Q: What has been your most rewarding moment as a TF?
A: “My most rewarding moment occurred when I was working with a student on a concept that was particularly difficult for her to grasp. We discussed it, used examples, drew on the board, took a break, and continued our attempts at fully grasping it. Finally, a light went off, and it all came together for her. She was able to explain it in her own words and provide a concept relevant to her life. It felt wonderful to know that I could be a part of helping her arrive at that place of understanding.”
Q: What is a method that you find particularly useful in helping students learn?
A: “I find that using the blackboard to map out concepts for students is most helpful. Whether we are simply writing a list or connecting ideas with pictures, the students I’m working with usually participate more actively in their learning. After doing so, I’ve noticed that students have an easier time explaining the psychological ideas in their own words.”
Amy is a senior Psychology TF who has eventual plans to do graduate work in psychology.
Q: What has been your most rewarding experience as a TF?
A: “My most rewarding experience was helping an organic chemistry student with her first synthesis. I helped her understand how to work backwards from the problem, asking her where she thought bonds were cleaved. I wrote the problem on the board and instead of going through the motions myself, I had her use the chalk and think about it on her own. With a bit of guidance, she was able to complete it. The next couple syntheses she tried on her own and each time she got farther and more confident. It felt good for me to see her improvement and I could tell she was becoming less stressed. She left hours and did what was left on her own. I think the material was starting to click.”
Q: What is a technique you use during your hours that has been effective and helpful in helping students learn in Chemistry?
A: “The most helpful technique (especially for chemistry teaching fellows) is getting groups of people to work together on the same problem. Chemistry fellows tend to get very busy on nights before problem sets are due, so the most effective strategy is to pair people up so they can help each other. Sometimes having one student try and teach the material to another (instead of doing it myself) ensures that the student really knows the material. I always say you really know your stuff if you can teach it to someone else.”
Alexa is a TF in the Chemistry department and won a Goldwater Honorable Mention in March 2012 for her work in chemistry and research.