Highlights from the Spring 2016 Teaching Conference

The Spring 2016 Teaching Conference provided an orientation for graduate students new to the GSI role. Discipline-Cluster (D-C) workshops led by experienced GSIs addressed pressing questions about getting started as a GSI. The afternoon featured a performance by Berkeley Interactive Theater, which led to a discussion of how GSIs in their role as teachers Continue Reading >>

Bringing Concepts to Life through Field Trips

by Allison Kidder, Environmental Science, Policy, & Management
I needed to find another way to help bring these concepts to life for my students. I recalled learning most intently when seeing examples of each concept out in the field in their unique spatial and temporal context. Using a little imagination and the wide variety of UC Berkeley’s campus resources available to us, I devised a series of field trips for my students on weeks they were learning new concepts. We traveled all over campus.

Bringing Astronomy Down to Earth: A Teaching Strategy That Helps Develop Intuition

by Aaron Lee, Astronomy
I found that students were far too trusting of their calculators, possibly due to a fear of math, and they blindly accepted whatever the calculator returned. My solution…was to include weekly activities that taught students how to relate new concepts to familiar experiences to develop their intuition about the subject matter.

Now Students, Don’t Forget to Play your Video Games

by John DeNero, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
The course’s original syllabus began with a conceptual roadmap of how various problems related to each other. But since our students didn’t understand the individual problems yet, they didn’t understand the purpose of the framework…To infuse continuity into the course, I designed a series of projects around Pacman, a classic video game with lots of retro charm.

Hide and Go Seek; or, Could We Play with Accounting?

by Tatiana Fedyk, Business Administration
At the beginning of this academic year, I chose a new strategy: make the subject itself interesting and funny, attractive and gameful. For every discussion, I created some entertaining exercise related to the new topic just covered in class. Though difficult at the beginning, it became easier with every new preparation and brought a lot of excitement into my classes.

‘Telling’ Tales: The Quest for Meaning in Indian Folklore

by Vasudha Paramasivan, South and Southeast Asian Studies
To my class, it seemed almost irreverent to read into such marvelous tales, prosaic explanations of power struggles and gender discrimination. While their skepticism was welcome, I had to find some way of addressing their resistance to the idea that there could be meaning and purpose behind folkloric narratives.

Undergraduate Astronomy Journal Club

by Louis-Benoit Desroches, Astronomy
My semester as a GSI for Astronomy 7A…reminded me of my time as an undergraduate taking the same type of course, eager to learn all I could about the wonders of astronomy. And indeed, students walk out of that course and the Berkeley astronomy undergraduate program in general with an excellent astronomy education. But just as I did when I was an undergrad, students here are asking for more.

How to ‘Show’ Sociology in an Academic World of ‘Telling’

by Ana Villa-Lobos, Sociology
“Showing” students how sociology is done, letting them witness the process of the sociological analysis of raw data, live and uncensored, is almost universally absent from the classroom. This leaves a shroud of mystery over the process, with many students intimidated and confused when it comes to their own research projects. I decided to try to incorporate this missing component into my own teaching.

Slimemolds vs. the MCATs

by J. Peter Coppinger, Plant and Microbial Biology
As a GSI for Biology 1B, my goal seemed simple in principle: get students to enjoy biology because biology is fascinating in and of itself. I wanted my students to appreciate biology simply because biology is worth marveling at — barnacles, slimemolds, and all. Unfortunately, many students often brush aside an interesting topic if it is not explicitly intended for an exam.