Here are the reports for the Fall 2003 UTAs.
It has always been said that the best way to learn how to do something is to do it. I've found that this is especially true with teaching. I have learned so much about both teaching and math through my experience as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant. It has been an absolutely wonderful experience. During the fall semester of 2003, I worked with Dr. David Lomen's MATH 129 course. I attended two out of the three classes per week so that I was well-informed about what the students were learning. I typically did three hours of homework grading each week. I also tutored in the algebra tutoring lab for three hours a week, and held weekly two hour review sessions for the class. All of these experiences were great and extremely enjoyable experiences.
One of my main goals this semester was to be very available to the students whenever they needed help. It is interesting that some students find it easier to ask the teacher questions, while others are more comfortable speaking to a T.A. To accommodate this, I held the review sessions and also gave the students my e-mail, so that I could answer any quick questions when they could not make it to office hours or tutoring. This seemed to work very well. I also held the review sessions Thursday evenings, which worked out extremely well, since homework was usually due on Friday. Sometimes, students would come in and work on their homework during this time and just ask me questions as they came up. I was very happy to see that they were comfortable enough to do that. For the most part, review sessions were simply question and answer sessions, but before a test, I would make up a review sheet and then the students would ask questions about the review.
Another wonderful part about this experience was that Dr. Lomen let me give a few lectures throughout the semester when he was absent. I would highly recommend any UTA to discuss this type of opportunity with their teacher if it is of interest. It was an amazing experience to actually have an entire class listening to you, relying on you to teach them something new. It was also a great experience with creating lesson plans and seeing how they worked in both theory and practice. I have to admit that it was extremely stressful, but also completely worth it.
Finally, the experience in the tutoring lab was a lot of fun. The students really kept me on my toes. At one moment, I would be answering a question about linear graphs, then shifts of sine curves, then integration, and probability. It really keeps you on the ball. An interesting side effect also is that you begin to understand math topics at a deeper level that you either didn't learn or have begun to forget. Frankly, my hours spent tutoring, either in the lab or at the review sessions, were usually a highlight of my week.
Overall, the UTA experience has been really rewarding. It has taken up a lot of my time throughout the semester and at times can be extremely draining, but I would not trade it for anything. The experience working with students, both on a one-on-one basis at tutoring and while giving lectures, has been fantastic. I knew that I wanted to be a math teacher before this experience, but now I am completely sure that there is no other career for me. I highly recommend being a UTA to any student.
This fall I had the unique opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant for business math. As a UTA I was able to interact with students, become a better math tutor, and to gain a deeper understanding of business math.
I signed up for the UTA program primarily as a way to make a little extra money, with the understanding that I would probably have to grade some homework and tutor the students. Instead I worked with my professor, Dr. Velez, on ways to elucidate the material for the students, different styles of presentation, and on various excel programs related to the text.
About once a week we would meet and discuss the student's current understanding of the material and ways that we could present the material that would be easier for the students to grasp. Due to the inherent difficulties in the business math material, many students had problems relating the mathematical concepts presented to them to the financial ideas in the text. Topics like Bayes theorem, expected value, and random variables are difficult for many math students; Taking those ideas and applying them in a meaningful way to concepts like the stock market was often very challenging for the students.
Dr Velez and I also worked together to fully utilize the technological aspects of the course. The text, which consists of a textbook and corresponding powerpoint slides and excel files, was a new presentation for most of the students. So there was a an initial adjustment period for the students, so that they could learn to use the powerpoint slides in conjunction with the book and excel files. Much of the course revolves around using the excel files as a source of data for the group projects. Therefore part of my duties involved helping students to use the excel files as they relate to the projects.
Business math is not a course with a lot of everyday homework so my grading was limited by that. However I did have the opportunity to grade the 2 class projects. That turned out to be a very interesting experience. It gave me a greater knowledge of the inherent difficulties involved with creating a feasible project for students to work on. Designing a project around a concept like predicting the value of stock options is certainly not easy and as I was grading the project I was able to appreciate the projects in ways the students could not. Trying to strike a balance between the technology available to the students through excel and the math at their disposal is a delicate art.
Another part of my duties was the creation of additional excel files that serve to help future business math classes. These fell into two categories: programs that would help future instructors with grading presentations and giving students interesting data for their projects, and programs that can be shown to students to illustrate the power of excel and ways to harness it. These programs were not always easy to create and by the end of the semester I have become exponentially better at using excel. This provided me with the opportunity to learn a useful skill that will be valuable to me in the future.
Finally my experiences in the tutoring lab have proven to be invaluable. I have increased my skill as a tutor and learned how to better explain complicated concepts to students. For three hours a week I would tutor students who came in for help. I got to know many students this way and had the opportunity to brush up on topics I had long since forgotten.
My experiences in the UTA program have been amazing. First I had a terrific professor who was eager to help me explore new ideas and methods. Secondly I was able to learn new methods in mathematics and ways to explore math through current technology. I would highly recommend the UTA program as a way to learn how to teach, get to know a member of the faculty, and get paid while doing it.
Forward by Leonard Nimoy
What you are about to read is the tale of a great man. A man who aspired to make a difference in the world; who dreamed of a legacy of change and innovation. A man who, during his illustrious tenure among an elite few, caused the world to rethink how it views the humble UTA. This is the tale of Adam Labay, his magnificent rise to power, and his eventual decline into teaching assistant retirement.
It all started one fine, spring day. I remember it well: I was at my post — the table by the vending machines — reviewing my studies the week before finals, when something caught my eye. Curious, I looked up from my volumes of forgotten lore and carefully surveyed my domain — the lobby of the math building — as a nobleman surveys the distant hills. Inspecting the stairway door, I noticed a yellow sheet inviting me to join the ranks of the prestigious Undergraduate Teaching Assistants. I had heard of the fabled organization before; the UTA for my differential equations class was a legend in his own right. Joining their ranks would fill an ever-increasing void in my heart, and the promised riches would nicely cover textbooks and my numerous parking tickets.
The application process was simple enough. After completing a test dredged from the annals of the Mensa library, all that was necessary was a papal declaration of my abilities. I was notified of my acceptance shortly thereafter, which was accompanied by the news that our program would be headed by the magnanimous Cetin Urtis, a king among men in his field.
I performed my journeywork under the master of Calculus 1, Dr. John Leonard. Dr. Leonard is a man of many hats, none of which read “sick day”. As such, I never lectured the class, per se, the exception being one afternoon when I treated them to an abridged version of my Nobel prize-winning dissertation on the applications of parametric equations, polar coordinates, and petal functions to orbital car buffers. Needless to say, the class was enraptured.
On numerous occasions, I treated the eager minds that arrived early to a detailed presentation of the ontological speculations entailed in the prior night's studies. When Dr. Leonard arrived to class, the already enlightened students were ready to absorb the day's material without excessive review. Homework was assigned daily and collected at random intervals, a strategy designed to weaken the students' mental defenses, leaving them vulnerable to the barrage of mathematics to which they were subjected five times a week. While I see the logic to the system, I couldn't help but feel some sympathy for the students, especially as week 16 rolled around and they were still churning out daily homework.
In addition to reviewing the homework, I held a total of four review sessions prior to exams. Several days before the review, I presented the students with a synopsis of the chapters covered, as well as a list of practice problems. Problems that I would work through at the review session were marked so that students could work on them ahead of time, and the sheets were scattered with hints and reminders, running the gamut from the more obscure half-angle theorem to the classic Eulerian parable, “don't forget +C!!!!!” Much to my surprise, people actually made use of my Calculus 1 Rosetta Stones, and when I held extended office hours on the mornings prior to exams, the flocks of students came prepared with pithy questions and pages of work.
This is not to say that students always took advantage of my temporal benevolence. In addition to time spent in the math tutoring lab, I had office hours once a week, which were typically visited only by the various vending machine refill personnel. My hours in the tutoring lab typically aligned with the pre-exam and pre-homework rushes, which meant that I worked hard for my daily bread. More important than the tutoring experience was the sharpening of my mathematical wits, and the exposure to the same problems that my students would be asking me when I visited the class later that day. I was surprised by how much vector calculus had embossed itself in my neural pathways, and dismayed by how little calculus 2 had done same.
As with all great sagas, however, mine too must come to an end. After completing an illustrious and lengthy tenure as UTA, I washed the chalk dust from my eyebrows for the last time and prepared for retirement. While the teaching experience was certainly valuable, I didn't enter the program with the expectation of a teaching career, nor do I have one now. Tutoring was and still is enjoyable, but I much prefer the one-on-one interaction to instructing a large group. That, I am happy to postpone until graduate school.
To start off, I think it would be best to explain what my duties were as a UTA for the U of A mathematics department. When I applied for the position, I really was not sure what to expect. I was informed that the position would include tutoring as well as doing work for the professor such as grading and holding review sessions. The only aspect I was not informed about was the weekly meeting, of which I was unable to attend most of the time due to previously planned engagement. Each week I tutored in the calculus tutoring room. In the beginning, I started out in the algebra tutoring room, but luckily they needed people in the other one. My experiences from both are quite different.
When I was in the algebra tutoring room, it was apparent to me that most of the people who came in were looking for a cookie cutter method to solving every single problem. This is most likely due to the fact that high schools never really teach the act of solving problems. These students were like computers waiting for commands that were cut and clear, they were not ready for anything that didn't have direct meaning. In making these statements, I am not generalizing all students in Algebra, I am simply commenting on a good majority of students that were in need of assistance in the tutoring room. These students have the intelligence, they just haven't been given the experience that they deserve; they haven't been challenged. I didn't have a problem instructing the students, but many of them were not willing to accept what I had to say. But, many of them were ready to change they.re view on math and believe that there was more to it than just plugging and chugging through equations that are given to them without explanation. My experience in the calculus room was similar, but not exactly.
Three main courses sought help in this room; Calculus 1, 2 and Vector Calculus. I had a good time tutoring in these courses because the material was pretty fresh and I feel that I can teach it well. There were many students in this lab that were ready to do well in their classes. From talking with the students, as well as watching some of the professors tutor their students in there, I realized what the main problems were. In agreement with a majority of students who have taken calculus at this university, the books used are quite lacking in their educational approach, and most of the professors simply do not care about the courses they are teaching. I sat back and watched a vector calculus professor belittle one of his/her students by asking them why they couldn't just see the answer, followed by a machine gun explanation of the problem only a linguist could decipher. The students come in there with questions, drive, and hope that they will leave there with a better understanding of the subject. This is what I tried to do when I helped people. Unfortunately, I am not that privy on ALL topics of calculus, and students didn't like this. I never really thought about this, but when a person goes in for tutoring, they expect the people in there to be experts in all the subjects. Some of the graduate tutors in there were, but I was not, and students became quite frustrated when I couldn't solve a problem quickly. This wasn't really a problem for them, as I could simply ask another tutor over, but it does have negative effects on you as a tutor to not be able to help someone. Overall, I think that tutoring has helped me realize two things: I like helping people and I am not ready to teach vector calculus.
What about my experience in the class I was a UTA for? My experience was little different than everyone else.. I was a UTA for Math 522, Advanced Applied Analysis, which consisted of advanced vector calculus, ODEs, PDEs, Laplace Tranforms, and applications of PDEs to physics. My job as a UTA in this class was to complete the homework as a guide to the students were in the class. There were, in the end, 5 in the class including myself. I had to enroll in the class (actually I was enrolled in 422 because the graduate college is scared of undergraduates on their turf) and learn the material as well as finish and be ready to teach all the concepts I learned in the class. This was one of the most challenging classes I have ever taken, and I wasn't really surprised. What really surprised me about the class was that the graduate students struggled more than I did, even though they had degrees in engineering. What I realized was that once they were done with the math they needed for their field, they stopped taking math. ALL the students in there were agricultural engineers, which was kind of odd. The math that was presented in this class was not for the non-math mind. I held one review session before our first test, and again realized that I am not ready to teach vector calculus. Unfortunately, the book we were using was not the best one for the class. Using every letter of the Greek alphabet in on paragraph, the methods of instruction were intimidating. When I completed the homeworks, I made sure that I explained every step that I took in the hope that it would help. I think, in the end, the students did learn some new concepts. But, I think the best thing that came out of this class was the math department's realization that the course should be structured much differently, as it is now being revamped.
In my opinion, being a UTA was a great experience. I would have also enjoyed to be up in front of one of the undergraduate classes giving a lesson, just to see what it is like. I enjoyed tutoring to a point, as the further students came in Vector calculus, the worse the book did at explaining concepts, and harder it became to teach people what they were actually doing. Overall, it was food money, I learned a lot about myself and I learned a lot about the learning styles of other students.
I didn't know what to expect when I decided to become a UTA. I always had enjoyed teaching people, but I had never taught in a formal setting. I been a coach for a number of years on various teams and in different sports, and I loved it, but I had never taught math outside of helping friends. So when Dr. Hartman allowed me to teach a class of Math 110, I was very excited. I wanted to be able to discover, first hand, the difference between teaching a class and tutoring. What I found is that there are a few similarities but more differences. I'm going to explain the differences I found as well as how they affected me.
I had been tutoring in the math tutoring room for a few months at that point and was very accustomed to it. It was easy to sit down with a person, one on one, and explain either a concept or how to do a certain problem. This is not a luxury that one receives when in the classroom. When working one on one, it easy to take time and explain things in detail. It is also easier to figure out what the person does not understand. When tutoring, you are working at a person pace, not a pace that works for the majority of students or a pace the is predetermined by others. I found tutoring to be much easier on myself because I feel that when there are students that don't understand, I have failed. So when I tutor I can take as long as I need or use as many examples or analogies to explain. It makes it much easier on me as well as allows me to make sure the student fully understands each concept or problem that has been taught.
When it comes to teaching in a class, I found it easy to stand up in front the students and teach them. What I didn't feel was very easy was making sure everyone understood what was happening. I tried to take time to make sure everyone understood the concepts that I was teaching but I could never be sure. When I asked if there were questions about what I was teaching, I rarely got response. Usually the students would just look at me with a blank stare. It was hard for me because I had been so used to tutoring where the students are not afraid to ask questions, no matter how simple or basic they may be. But in a class, the students were not nearly as open. Also, I had a timeline that I had to follow to make sure I lectured on everything I was supposed to that day. Those two things made it hard for me because I want to take the time to make sure everyone has a solid understanding of everything being taught.
After teaching the class, I realized that I have to just teach what I can and hope that students will ask for help if they do not understand something. That is what the tutoring room is for. It helps students catch up when they may be behind or gives them a place where they can get extra help in an area that gives them a problem. I enjoyed both teaching in front of a class and tutoring students one on one. They both had their advantages and disadvantages. I liked and disliked parts of both. In the end, though, being a UTA was a very valuable lesson in that I now understand better what has to be put into teaching each lesson so that the students receive a fair chance to learn. I also better understand that I can't teach everything to everyone in a single lesson. No matter how hard I try some students will just not understand some things. That's why tutoring is important and why there are so many differences between tutoring and teaching.
I have never been good with math. My personal history with the learning of math has consisted of me skipping through math without out ever really learning or understanding it very well and getting a C in the class. If C's don't bother you that much then this approach to math works until one of two things happen; you decide you have to learn it better, or you go to college. Fortunately or unfortunately both happened to me. Not only did I go to college, but I majored in engineering. What was I thinking? Quickly finding myself in a very deep hole, I realized that something had to be done. You see, I never took calculus in high school; which, by the way, resides at about three on my top five deepest regrets of all time. Not being “calculus ready” when you enter an engineering program at any university will put you at the bottom of the food chain in a real hurry. To add to my academic embarrassment I achieved no less than a C in college algebra and college trig and calculus I. My cognitive/mathematic security took a grievous turn towards to floor when I took calculus II. I would take calculus II no less then three times in two years here at the University of Arizona. The third time I took this class turned out to be the turn of the tide. Not only did I get a B in the class, Thank God, but felt that for the first time in my life that I was actually understanding the material, Perhaps having something to do with it being the third I've seen it. Amazingly, I could in fact predict where the professor was going with the material. That B I spoke of was the third highest grade in the class; regardless of what that means logistically, it gave me a never before felt sense of mathematical confidence.
In this calculus II class we were blessed with the aid of an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant. I felt inspired by this 18 year old kid (at the time I was 20), who we will call Josh and seemed to know and understand about as much of the material as the group of PhD's who wrote the book. All of this put together (the better grade, the fundamental understanding, the aid of not only the professor but a genius kid who spoke on my level) led the inherent confidence building and the personal revelation that... “Yes, it is indeed possible to understand math fundamentally without being fundamentally predisposed to it”. And that was the key to my breakthrough and the root to my current feelings and pseudo-propensity towards math. I got A's and B's in calculus III, calculus IV and linear algebra; since then I feel that I owe it all to that calc II class for elevating my confidence in mathematics. I found that having a fundamental understanding of math is much easier then practicing recipes and formulas. If you can understand how numbers move and interact, there is no need to remember a formula for you can manifest it in a quick derivation.
My largest flaw in math and what eventually came to be my salvation was algebra. I honestly believe that if you do not fundamentally understand algebra very, very well and are idiotically scratching your way towards an engineering degree, you are screwed. Calculus is not hard, but if you do not have that foundation of algebra you will feel like you.re trying to learn auto maintenance in a foreign language. How do you learn algebra late in the game? Well you pull out your algebra book from freshmen year, the class you got a C in by the way, and every time you look at a physics, chemistry, or engineering question that requires properties of logs, exponential growth or decay, or one of a million other things, you look it up. My college algebra book got more use in Physics 141 and 241 then it ever got in math 110. Give it some good honest work and a semester or two and you'll understand math better then you ever had before. But how do you finalize the personal question of how good you are at math? Teach it!!!! Regardless of how much “The best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else” sounds like a cheesy bumper sticker, it is absolutely true. I was in the math building one afternoon and saw the flyer for the UTA Program and thought to my self, “what the hell, I'll give it a shot”. Little did I know that it would turn out to be one of the greatest things I have ever done for both my resume and confidence. Not only am I now able to say that I was a Teaching Assistant for the Math Department, I can also say that I tutored for the Math Department. Me, the kid who took calc II three times. Never before have I felt this confident in math.
Perhaps this story is not meant for the masses. More specifically it is probably not meant for the demographic of mathematical prodigies interested in the UTA program for it is safe to say that most of you have not experienced much difficulty in math. No, this story is meant for the few of you who have felt it necessary to test yourself, to justify your confidence in math or to just validate your ego. Who knows, but I will promise you this, the UTA program has a great deal to offer. Whether it is to test you public speaking skills, your teaching skills, to get tutoring experience or because you have a genuine desire to help people. This list of plusses is too long to describe; just take my work for it, you want to do this.
To whomever may happen to stumble upon this: I was an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA) for the Department of Mathematics, Fall Semester 2003. During this time, my experiences with the program were all positive.
It was, of course, not all fun and games, there was work to do. The task I found myself doing the most often was tutoring in the calculus room. This was rewarding in itself. Not only was this a wonderful chance for me to showcase the little amount of mathematics I am procient in, but it provided a comprehensive review of some topics I have not seen in a couple of years. I have tutored before privately and not seen the same positive results that I did in the UTA program. Perhaps this can be attributed to the type of people who are willing to stick it out in the math study rooms vs. the type whose rst response when faced with a math course is to hire someone to do their homework for them and tell them what is likely to be on the next exam. I have to say that I was quite impressed with many of the students I tutored. Even when explaining topics such as innite series and integration in non-cartesian coordinates (areas students seem to be the most troubled in,) it still seemed as if the people understood what was being taught to them.
In addition to tutoring, my other responsibility was to T.A. for Dr. K. C. Chen for three sections of math 223 (vector calculus.) Grading papers, well what's new that can be said about that that, but the pay was the same. On the other hand, I did get to give lectures on applications of vector calculus to electro-magnetic theory, namely Maxwells equations. This was entertaining and also rewarding. While my lectures may not have appealed to the population of students who had no desire to learn anything new, I did recieve several comments on how much more sense my lecture made than when they saw the same material in their physics course. I do not believe that my lectures were anything spectacular, perhaps math just makes more sense the second time around. In regards to working with Dr. Chen, I could not have hoped to work for a nicer, more professional individual.
Lastly, in regards to the general business of being a UTA, again, I have nothing but positive feedback. This semester Dr. Cetin Urtis was in charge of the program. I feel that he did a remarkable job of making the most of our experience.
Being a UTA for MATH 110 was so much fun. I was paired up with Jim Barrett, who taught 3 sections, one at 8am, one at 9 and one at 12. He asked that I attend at least one section every day, so that I could see what material was being covered as the semester progressed. I actually cleared my schedule so that I could go to all three if I wanted, but ended up sticking to the 12 o.clock for the most part.
Turns out that clearing my schedule was a good idea: Jim would pick out one or two sections from the text every month or so, and let me teach them to the class. For the sake of consistency, we agreed that I should teach all three sections. 8am was the most difficult for a lot of reasons. First of all, I'm not a morning person, and I don't think too many freshmen are either. So me teaching a freshman class at 8 am wasn't the best idea in the world, but you have to start somewhere. By 9, I felt like a pro. I knew exactly what to say, what problems to go over, and how much time to spend on every section. 12pm was my favorite. The students were all awake, and sometimes actually asked questions. Teaching is way more fun with class involvement.
Every time I taught a section I was over prepared, which I found comforting. Before this semester, I had really bad stage fright. I used to hold review sessions for the SALT Center, but I would request another tutor to come up to the front of the classroom with me because I was too scared to go by myself. I found out that my comfort level as the center of attention has a lot to do with how well I know what I'm talking about, and even more to do with how well I know the people I'm standing in front of.
Getting to know the students is crucial. When standing up in front of a classroom, I have no idea if I'm making sense. The students. responses were limited, especially in the 8 and 9 am classes. Tutoring in the lab gave me a better idea of which material they had the most trouble with, but I really didn't find out who didn't get what until the reviews came around.
I held a review session around 6pm one or two days before every test. There was always a huge turn out. Students would bring questions they had from old homework assignments, and Jim always told me exactly what sections to cover, so that I didn't miss anything. Most of the time I saw the exams, so I could be better prepared.
This experience as a hole gave me a new outlook on teaching. It takes an incredible amount of devotion to be a math teacher. I had an awesome time this semester, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend this assistantship to anyone who has the time.
This semester, I participated in the Undergraduate Teaching Assistant program. As a UTA, my time each week was spent divided between three hours of grading, three hours of tutoring, three hours of office hours/discussion with the teacher, and an hour of meetings with Cetin etc. This was an experience that I believe I gained a lot from, and I hope to be able to repeat it next semester.
To preface, I must admit that I severely underestimated the difficulty in staying neutral in the classroom setting. When one student regularly comes to office hours and is polite and personable, it is very difficult not to give into the temptation to give them a higher grade than a student who barely comes to class and is rarely, if ever, polite. This dilemma has given me a greater respect for the teachers I've had.
This experience also gave me greater insight into the teacher's side of things. Between the amount of time spent grading both tests and homework, it makes sense now as to how a teacher would be upset about a student not performing well on homework, or even not doing it at all. Because of the time investment that is put in by the teacher, the students should be willing to put in a similar amount in order to understand the material. It was gratifying, however, to find that a good portion of the students cared enough about the material to come to my study sessions before each test.
Tutoring was perhaps my favorite part of being a UTA, since it gave me the opportunity to help out various students in different math classes. This in turn allowed me to see both the different teaching styles that the different professors have and the reactions to those styles that the students have.
All in all, being a TA was a very gratifying and rewarding experience for me, and I thank Cetin and Brink Harrison for being such a pleasure to work with, and I again, hope to be able to repeat this in the near future.
For the last five years I have been inspired by 3 math teachers. Not only did they help me to understand and appreciate mathematics, but they have also instilled in me the joy of completing a problem which I have worked so hard on. I have never felt the way I do when I come to the answer of a problem I've worked on for hours. It is this same joy that I have felt that I wished to pass on to the next generation of mathematics students.
I was a TA for Math 110-College Algebra. Some of the students in the class seemed to care about their grade, however, the majority of them just wanted to “get by”. This was difficult to accept at first, but it became an evident truth by the end of the semester. Many of the students dropped because the course was “too hard”. Being a student myself, I understand their feelings and sympathize for them.
I began by going to the classes every other day, and observing the professor's style of teaching. This proved to be one of the wisest things I did. The students often had a hard time understanding what was being taught. Fairly simple concepts were being lost in the jumble of word problems that were being solved on the board. By the time my office hours came around, I had a group of at least 3 or 4 of the students come for clarification. In a way I felt sorry for them because they were being used a guinea pigs for the professor's new book he was writing. Many of the problems in the book had typos. Even more than that, the book used concepts such as compound interest without introducing the equations first.
Sessions lasted about an hour each week. I tried to re-teach many of the concepts in simpler terms, and most of the time, I got positive comments at the end of the session. This was a great reward for me and made being a UTA much more pleasant. The students came to me not as a UTA, but more as a friend and a counselor. They needed someone to vent to, someone to listen to, and someone to give them words of encouragement and advice. I think above all, that was the most important job off all. I tried to give them some sort of a “haven of mathematics” where they didn't feel nervous about being wrong. They were comfortable making mistakes at sessions, and they became more confident. Ultimately, I have great satisfaction knowing that I instilled in some of my students a feeling of confidence about what they were doing. After all, I believe that this is the most important thing to have in a college education.
Grading was intense for me. A normal week would bring around 3 hours of grading. When the work load was too much, I chose a few problems to grade, and just went to it. My students loved me because I only took a quarter of a point off for each problem wrong. At this level, I believed that if they were attempting the homework, they should be given most credit. After all, homework is more for their personal enrichment, and not for testing.
I enjoyed the tutoring room. When it was slow, I spent my time grading papers. That was a great help in time-management. I think that UTAs have a much easier job than the teachers, because they only have to reiterate what was taught, and not teach it for the first time. Students in the tutor room were always very thankful for the help.
At the end of the year, I gave 3 study sessions for the final. These sessions made me realize that I truly love teaching math. The students were very responsive, and they were very grateful that they could understand what I was saying, and what I was teaching. I think that the study sessions were by far the best part of the program, because I got to help form the students thoughts. I helped them become better math students, and I helped them to not be so afraid of mathematics.
I am glad that I became a UTA. The money was a huge help this semester, and I enjoyed myself a lot. The only problem I had with the UTA this semester was the time commitment. I am an Engineering Math major with tons of units left to finish. Unfortunately, I was obliged to drop my own math class, because I did not have enough hours in the day to eat, sleep, go to class, grade papers, make review problems, tutor, and do my own homework. I would advise a prospective UTA to consider the amount of time they have to put into the program before committing.
Undergraduate Teaching Assistantship is a very helpful program for people who want be a teacher or a professor in the future. This program has taught me the difference between teaching the class and taking the class. When I took Math 129, I received 99% in the class, this semester when I tutoring that class, I felt there is a lot of mater I didn't understand. Also there is a lot of question that I couldn't answer for other students. I learned that for anyone to teach a class, they must completely master the material. During this semester, I also learned a lot of math 129 material that I never learn when I toke that class. Material such as integration by trig substitution has helped me in my other ECE class.
I didn't do much as a UTA, simply there aren't any people showed up during my office hour and there isn't that much stuff to do. Every week I did grading homework and tutoring other students. I have learn a lot experience how to tutoring other students, such as guild them though the problem instead of you do it for them and let them watch. This helps them to think though the problem, next time when they see similar question, they can do it by them self. By tutoring other people, I learned math other skills how to solve the same problem that I never thought of it work.
As a UTA, I did a lot of grading. Before this semester, I see homework as easy grade booster; they are easy points to get. During this semester, my homework average for that class is about 70%; this is mostly due to people not doing there home. There is about 25 people in the class, I receiver about 15 people that do there home work everyday. At end of this semester I see there are about 20% people having A as homework grade and 50% people have D or less. This is mainly due to they are not doing their homework.
Another interesting experience that learned as a UTA is preparing the lesson on “how to use TI-89”. I feel that I taught many other UTAs to use TI89 in there classes. Before I give the presentation, I feel it is a boring presentation. Afterward I feel it's not bad at all.
Undergraduate Teaching Assistantship is a well designed program for student to learn more about math. Also this program gave students a chance to learn other skills that they couldn't learn anywhere else except in this program. Such as there is difference between teaching the class and taking the class. I would like to return to this program in future if I can have another chance. Thanks to this program, I learn a lot for my self.