As a young instructor I continually work to develop and enhance my educational skills and techniques. Beginning my teaching career as a teaching assistant, I taught classes mainly through lectures and PowerPoint presentations. Mirrored after my own professors, I thought lecture was the only way to teach my students. That is, until I received my first course evaluation and noted that many students asked for a wider array of learning styles and tools. Shortly thereafter I applied to a University of Delaware program that seeks to prepare future educators.
The Higher Education Teaching Certification Program, offered by the Center for Teaching and Learning, is a four-term learning experience that focuses on pedagogical and professional content. The courses are designed for graduate students who wish to work in academia. Sessions allowed me to learn as an individual through readings and experiences and within groups through shared experiences both in the classroom and through online interactive learning tools.
The HETC Program taught me pedagogical learning skills and techniques, provided me with practical ideas to use in and out of the classroom with my students, and helped prepare me for a career in academia.
In conjunction with the HETC Program I have volunteered to assist at the University of Delaware Annual Conference for Graduate Teaching Assistants. The conference, also administered by the Center for Teaching and Learning, asks advanced teaching assistants, like myself, to share their knowledge with newly appointed graduate students. Through sessions, workshops, panel discussions, and presentations I have shared with new teaching assistants the tips and tools I have learned during my semesters as a teaching assistant and independent lecturer.
Finally, to improve my teaching effectiveness I have gone straight to the source: my students. Using an idea learned through the HETC Program I have begun implementing midterm course evaluations. Midterm evaluations allow me to hear directly from my students how I can improve my teaching and the course for the second half of the semester. Asking for midterm feedback each semester allows me to adapt and accommodate the course to each set of students promoting a more effective learning environment. The midterm evaluation, in conjunction with the end-of-term evaluation, is just one type of indicator that I can use to evaluate my effectiveness. I utilize the knowledge gained from these tools every semester.