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Jeff Forbes
Works at Duke University
Attended Long Valley Middle School
Lives in Durham, NC
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Jeff Forbes

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We are developing an evidence-based peer teaching fellow (i.e, undergraduate teaching assistant) training course.

We invited several experts in running large enrollment introductory courses to share their knowledge with the our project staff at a one day meeting on July 27, 2015. The attendees included faculty from University of Washington (Stuart Reges), Stanford University (Mehran Sahami), Harvey Mudd College (Colleen Lewis), Harvard (Daven Farnham), and University of Virginia (Mark Sherriff). The representative(s) from each institution with large-enrollment introductory courses then provided an overview of their teaching assistant program. We focused on the main ideas behind recruiting, training, and management.

We are piloting the training course at NC State, UNC, and Duke in Fall 2016. At each institution, students will learn about logistical aspects of TAing (tools and evaluation of student work); student interactions and concerns (including office hours and diversity training); and educational theory (active learning; creation of assessments, evaluation of teaching; and effective education). Students will be expected to complete a project, teaching sample, and reflection. Upon successful completion of the training course, a student will be able to:

1. describe and execute successful strategies for guiding students to solve problems in their coursework
2. evaluate student deliverables efficiently while providing formative and summative feedback
3. support course instructors on common administrative items
4. effectively use course tooling to support student learning
5. evaluate teaching - of themselves and others
6. apply strategies for student interactions that support inclusion and diversity
7. identify strategies for handling student issues and students of concern

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Jeff Forbes

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The overarching objective of the Research Triangle Peer Teaching Fellows project is to increase CS retention and diversity by developing a highly scalable, effective, evidence-based peer teaching fellow training program. In our initial Observation & Design stage, we have been:
- assessing current peer teaching and undergraduate teaching assistant practice;
- gathering data for analysis on in-person office hours and asynchronous Piazza discussions; and
- expanding existing peer teaching opportunities at each campus.

One added benefit of our project has been the opportunity to share approaches across institutions. With Duke, a private research university; UNC, a liberal arts public research university, and NC State, a land-grant university with a strong engineering focus, the context for the respective CS2 courses are different, but we've learned a great deal from each campus. In addition, we convened a meeting of leading experts in PTF programs for large enrollment CS courses. One important finding is the importance of community in a successful PTF program. As we work on building our PTF program and training program, we are emphasizing community building and its impact on PTF recruitment, retention, effectiveness, and diversity.

Researchers at UNC have developed My Digital Hand as part of this project and we have deployed the tool at the three institutions. A student's Digital Hand is raised when he or she needs help. Using My Digital Hand, we are able to measure how students use one-on-one peer teaching resources. This tool has helped confirm some anecdotal observations - e.g, 5% of students take up more than 50% of the PTF service time at each institutions and Duke students have to wait far longer than UNC or NCSU students for help. It's also shed light on some previously unknown characteristics of PTF-Student interaction. Female students have substantially more interactions with PTFs than male students. Similarly, students who rate themselves as Less Confident have more interactions than those students who rate themselves as More Confident. As we develop our PTF training course this summer, we will specifically address how to help these students who are more likely to spend seek help in one-on-one sessions.


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Jeff Forbes

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cut is quite useful. I didn't know about paste.
A brief introduction to cut and paste. (a.k.a. I want to select columns from one file and stick them together with columns from another file). After using cut and paste for the "millionth" time, I dec...
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It's like sideways cat!
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Jeff Forbes

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Awesome. It's particularly interesting how the most popular major has changed over time and how much Stanford's students' major choice differs from its peers.
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Jeff Forbes

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I've been grabbing material from this course for years. Now, I'll actually try to take it!
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There should be some sort of list for people who make these kind of lazy generalizations that can be easily refuted.
Juan Williams asks a question that he could readily answer.
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Jeff Forbes

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As I prepare to read about lots of projects designed to engage students in computing, I hope people will take note of the lessons from this post and elsewhere. Good material and good intentions do not necessarily result in an effective camp or other enrichment program.
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Jeff Forbes

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Outstanding article by Kamau
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Jeff Forbes

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Also looking forward to taking another really interesting course that I borrow heavily from...
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Jeff Forbes

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How arrogant would I be if I hadn't watched so much TV?
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What a straight line.
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Jeff Forbes

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Not everyone is going to be a "Rock Star Coder," but nearly everyone should be able to write some scripts and enjoy the awesome feeling of getting a computer to do something useful.
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I'm surprised there's even a debate about this. Non-CS-major people are already programmers. They program in Excel, in VB, in Access or SQL, in a little sprinkling of Javascript. If they're bio people, they probably program in Python or Perl. If they're engineers or other scientists, they likely do some amount of Matlab.

We should be happy about this, embrace it, and try to make it easier for everyone to get things done more efficiently. That's what computers are for.
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Have him in circles
153 people
Ying Zheng's profile photo
Obyadur Rahman's profile photo
Melissa Cox's profile photo
SHIF Ambient's profile photo
jun pang's profile photo
nhatcong hana's profile photo
friend Dora's profile photo
Evelyn Diamante's profile photo
Susan Rodger's profile photo
Work
Occupation
Professor
Employment
  • Duke University
    Associate Professor of the Practice, 2001 - present
  • National Science Foundation
    Program Director, 2011 - 2014
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Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Durham, NC
Previously
Arlington, VA - Oakland, CA - Long Valley, NJ
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Introduction
Working on improving CS Education 
Education
  • Long Valley Middle School
    1985
  • Delbarton School
  • Stanford University
    Computer Science
  • University of California, Berkeley
    Computer Science
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Male