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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


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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Outstanding article by Kamau

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

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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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How arrogant would I be if I hadn't watched so much TV?

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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.
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