Lessons Learned: The Keck Postdoctoral Fellowship Experience Xenia Morin May 2004
Keck Postdoctoral FellowshipGoal: Training College Teacher/Scholars Mentored Research Mentored Research Teaching Experience Supervisory Experience Teaching Supervising Research
What I have learned… • Students come eager to learn; some are eager to talk and to discuss • Classroom dynamics are different in all-women classes versus mixed classes • The assessment part of teaching is difficult to do well and time consuming! • Teaching is very emotional • Some students are “received knowers” and need to be encouraged to think and analyze • Students love field trips…. • My research postdocs did little to prepare me for the teaching role of a liberal arts faculty member
What I have learned… • Students love field trips…. Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal 1782 Fuch’s Di Historia 1551
What I have learned… • Students come eager to learn • Most want to be successful and will rise to a challenge, sometimes to their own physical detriment (sleep deprivation; eating disorders) • Be open to different learning styles or abilities • Get excited about trying different styles of teaching, both in and out of class e.g. “Fun Fridays” • Get to know the students personally and this will help you to guide their learning • e.g. summer student research
What I have learned… • Classroom dynamics are different in all-women classes versus mixed classes (even when men make up 10% of class; Bio210) • Most women, although not all, are much less likely to voice their opinion in mixed classrooms • Think-write-pair-share exercises reinvigorate discussion by giving a safe environment to test out initial ideas before sharing in large groups • Our women in science and math need to be encouraged to talk and discuss • Classroom size and space matter! Choose carefully!
What I have learned… • Teaching includes assessment which is difficult to do well and time consuming! • Multiple ways of assessment can be useful: written, quantitative, visual (e.g. structural representation), and public speaking • Not all assignments need to be graded carefully • Some forms of assessment can be useful feedback tools • …Still have to figure out how to reconcile my desire to assess in certain ways and the amount of time and energy I have!
What I have learned…. • Some students are “received knowers” • I have learned to deal with plagarism • Sadly, some students just want to cut and paste from internet resources, sometimes edit, and present as their own work: the internet has become the best tool for “received knowers” (learning to deal with plagarism); students need much more guidance here! • As teachers we must encourage our students to grow and develop their own voices and thoughts • e.g. Position papers (Bio210); Designing laboratory protocol (CHEM242 lab); analysis of scientific papers (CHEM546)
MyBackground • 1985 B.Sc. in Biochemistry, U. of Toronto • Summer research experience • 1992 Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Dept. of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology, Cornell University • Always knew teaching was my passion • Started Grad Teaching Workshops • 1992-1996 Post-doc experience at EMBL, Germany and Hospital for Sick Children • Research focus due to nature of fellowships • 2001- present Keck Fellowship was re-entry to work force
Introductory Courses • My assignment: to teach the biochemistry and chemistry section of an Introductory Biology (Bio101 Fall) course to undergraduates and post-bacs • Challenges: convince biology students that understanding some chemistry is important yet many will only be starting introductory chemistry • large class sizes, lecture format; variety of backgrounds • Stimulation: break up classes with “Fun Fridays” • used hands-on activities (e.g. building molecules out of marshmallows and toothpicks), • songs (Cold Spring Harbor Books), • mamba-line (demonstrate primary structure of proteins) • The ribosome and protein translation done with students
Biochemistry Laboratory • Assignment: teach the laboratory section of an introductory biochemistry class (Chem242) • Challenges: content vs. concepts; introducing new • Time and energy! • Stimulation: • Model good technique • Use smart classrooms for computer-based work • Create a variety of labs that have good visual appeal • Change lab partners midway through semester; • Field trip to BioMol
Non-Majors Course • Assignment: Teach Biology and Public Policy (Bio210) • Challenges: writing course; students want lots of discussion but class size is large (46 students); classroom dynamics; get up to speed on policy issues and ethical considerations; don’t want to scare the students too much! • Stimulation: • Think-Write-Pair-Share exercises • Videos: lot of good material here • Planned debate • Introduce the ethicaldimension (Bioethics Workshop)