Podcast #29

In this episode Parama Chaudhury joins us from University College London’s Department of Economics. Parama is a teaching fellow at UCL where she does all sorts of innovative things in the classroom. We spend most of our time talking about Parama’s experience with Team-Based Learning (TBL), but she also tells how she ended up starting the world’s first Centre for Teaching and Learning in Economics.

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Show Notes

0:00 Intro

0:38 Introducing and welcoming Parama. Doug went to London, Parama came to New Haven. Founding a teaching center inside an economics department. Approaching teaching innovation with an economist’s skills.

3:55 A speaker series, a web site, an undergraduate research conference. Undergraduates doing research.

7:06 Teaching faculty co-teaching with ladder faculty.

9:22 Avoiding changing an established course too much. The Socratic method is hard with some students. Students feeling free to ask questions.

11:10 Team-based learning: technology optional. College graduates need to be able to work in teams. Innovating teaching as part of a wider culture.

13:32 “Team-based learning is a cult.” Deviating from the highly-structured format of TBL. Some essential elements of TBL: student preparation, trust, and listening. Assessment at the start of each module.

16:58 Everyone loves scratch cards–They’re like a quizzes on a lottery tickets. Promoting student engagement through small group discussion. Scratchers do some things that clickers can’t.

21:31 Making sure students have a handle on the content before moving on. Semi-random groups. The importance of having a team leader. Parama skips the peer evaluation part–because of logistics. Some peer feedback methods.

27:52 Teaching issues like immigration in an economics course. Pursuing open-ended questions that use course concepts. Helping students how to form and answer open-ended research questions. Students are uncomfortable shaping the question or making assumptions. Learning from student course evaluations.

31:53 Allowing shy students to opt out. Social support for students reluctant to speak in class. TBL at various sizes and piloting new techniques in smaller courses. Ideal group size.

35:35 From 12 students to 75 students. One student says: “This is hard because we have to do work all the time.”

36:54 Something you tried in the classroom that did not work out so well. “If you succeed in everything you try in the classroom, you’re not trying hard enough.” A group wiki goes wrong. Students often balk at chatting online using the tools you assign them. Students may not want professors observing them, and they may not want social life to merge with school.

39:41 Using digital tools in the classroom seems to scaffold their use outside the classroom.

41:19 “Do you miss lecturing?” Parama does bite-sized lectures. “I’ve heard my voice enough.”

42:07 Thanks and signing off.

Want to learn more about Team-Based Learning? Check out these links: