Thursday, April 27, 2006

top of the class

There were some murmurings as we graded exams last week that perhaps two of the lab sections got screwed over. They had lab after the in-class exam, and some of the material we went over was directly related to the short answer questions. As I told my own students: "You've covered all of this material in lecture, except for these small experiments. It's fair game."

So when the grades were combined and arranged and finished, they did averages for each lab section. The later labs were not particularly worse than any of the other classes. Only five points separate the best from the worst. Pretty even distribution if you ask me. But something interesting shook out from the numbers as well.

The top two sections are both mine. I was actually surprised to hear that, though I knew my students had done well overall. The top numbers are all close, but no other TA has both their classes even remotely that close to each other. Being modest and a scientist I politely brushed off those who noticed with a smile and: "Well, yes, but it isn't a significant difference between the top and the bottom." I was early for lecture and chatting with one of the professors, and she brought up how well my classes did. I gave her the prepared line, but she shook her head. "That is true," she said, "but one does notice."

Not bad for a novice TA.


At 4:39 PM, Blogger ScienceWoman said...

Good for you!

At 5:27 AM, Blogger Abel PharmBoy said...

One does notice, indeed!

My positive experiences in teaching while a grad student gave me a leg up in competing for pharmacy faculty positions because I was one of few asst prof candidates with evaluable teaching expertise.

Nothing was more satisfying than having a student come up to me and say, "You know, most grad students don't take their TA assignments as seriously as you do and I just wanted you to know how much we all appreciate your efforts."

I wish I could find that guy today because his simple expression of gratitude helped me define what I wanted to do in this crazy scientific life. It hasn't been easy since, but it has been incredibly rewarding and satisfying.

Perhaps we may have found our niche, my friend?


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