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Certificate in the Foundations of College Instruction - Course Comments GC 593

  • As a Ph.D. student, I have found this course invaluable. We are often thrown into leading classes that we know little about and have very little teaching experience. Thanks to this course, I already have numerous ideas for how to lead my next class creatively and effectively, and have strategies to reach out to all kinds of learners.

    While a Masters student at Northern Illinois University, I was lucky enough to participate in their Graduate Teaching Certificate program. Though this program wasn't perfect, it was a step in the right direction. If UIC implemented something similar, I would absolutely participate. Teaching is a skill that is often overlooked in higher education and I would love to see UIC embrace it to cultivate effective teachers in all disciplines.
    (PhD student – Communication)

  • I am an international student. The course is an excellent one and can be extremely beneficial.
    (MED international student – Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics and Assessment)
  • This class has already taught me so many things about improving my teaching skills and I believe they will be very valuable for my remaining years at UIC at a Graduate TA as well when I graduate and become a professor at another university.

    This course has finally answered why we like some professors more than others through our academic careers as students as well as why we 'perform' better in classes with effective teachers compared to others. The professors/instructors/lecturers that our GC 593 class has decided were our 'favorites' and most effective were those who prepared for their classes, had lesson plans that made sense (with a beginning, middle and ending), had teaching skills, and knew how to engage students throughout the semester.

    All of this I have learned in this class already. I feel that this course should be REQUIRED for UIC professors as a continuing education course to improve their teaching at UIC especially since we all know that so many professors have had little to no formal training in how to design and teach a course.

    This class is wonderful!
    (PhD student – Kinesiology and Nutrition)

  • I find this class intellectually stimulating and interesting. Almost every week, I leave the class with many good ideas and suggestions that could be applied within my own classroom. John is excellent at delivering the course material and preparing us for teaching and lesson design.

    I have one thought about the course and teaching assistants at UIC generally. It could be useful if TAs who have taken this course or TAs who want to take this course are offered the option of having a faculty member who is actively teaches. Specifically, a group of TAs would be assigned a faculty mentor and meet with him/her 2-3x for one semester. The TA could discuss potential lesson ideas based on a set of objectives, and the mentor could offer feedback based on successful classroom learning strategies. The TAs could have the option of meeting on a regular basis with each other to receive assessment or constructive comments on their teaching.

    This could be an undue burden on teachers, but it has the potential to be a worthwhile experience in motivating TAs to more carefully consider their teaching design and for teachers to have a conversation on assessment and course delivery from the future crop of professors.
    (PhD student – Biological Sciences)

  • I found this course very valuable as it exposed me to the techniques and research about methods to make teaching more effective. Not only that, it also prepared us to compete in teaching job market.

    Helpful: We developed through assigned readings and class discussions about necessary components of teaching like writing syllabus, lesson plan, critical thinking based lesson etc. and also got feedback about our writings from both instructor and peers.
    Unhelpful: Some of the literature was bit theoretical.
    (PhD student  - Electrical and Computer Engineering)

  • I am writing this email to inform you of the benefits I received from this class. As a student in a department where there is little to no guidance on new teaching assistants I find this class to be invaluable. It has improved my teaching and prospects of getting hired for a teaching position.

    Helpful content is numerous but the most important to me were the development of a teaching philosophy and designing effective lesson plans.

    This course would be even better if it was a requirement so that people in the same field of study would provide one another with more field specific feedback.

    John was a very energetic and effective instructor
    (PhD student – Criminology Law and Justice)

  • The course showed best practices is teaching which were completely unknown to me previously. It also showed an abundance of methods which are invaluable. Understanding of the system was incredibly helpful and this instructor has a large amount of his own experiences and practices that are unique and are of big value to this course. I would like more partner/smaller group discussions mixed in because it is difficult for me to participate in large group discussion.
    (MS student – Kinesiology)
  • This course was very helpful with formulating a plan for teaching. I feel much more confident about my approach to learning.  I really liked the information we discussed about hiring. I liked that we did portfolio which will give us an extra advantage over other instructors. Perhaps more use of the discussion board so we can look at other students' work aside from our typical neighbors would be helpful
    (anonymous student)
  • I have received a good foundations above the throw in the water mentality that we get in the biology department. Being exposed to practices from multiple fields opened my horizons as an instructor.

    The course in general was very helpful, however felt a bit stretched after 9 weeks. I think a practicum would be of great help in breaking up the material. Some information about structuring lesson plans, from the basic idea of I have a concept, how do I apply it to teaching would have been helpful in advance of designing a whole course.

    John was joyful and brought great vibes to the class. I have already recommended the class to other fellow TA's in my department.
    (PhD student – Biological Sciences)

  • This course exposed me to a variety of techniques with which to approach learning, teaching, and preparation for teaching. I'm now more confident in my ability to be an effective teacher and to facilitate learning. The most helpful content was not a specific topic but the way in which we analyzed both (1) the teacher's and (2) the student's perspectives in any given classroom interaction.

    I would have liked a few more structured opportunities to observe teachers who are particularly effective.  I think a nice addition to this course would be an assignment in which pairs of students videotape each other teaching while applying specific techniques learned in this class. It would be fun, practical, and good to be able to have Dr. Coumbe-Lilley assess portions of our actual teaching.
    (PhD student – Anthropology)

  • I took this class because I felt a sincere passion for teaching and I was actually recommended to take it by you (Graduate College). It was one of the best decisions I've made and I thank you for that as well. I've learned so many new ways to improve teaching methods to facilitate learning and also improve student engagement.

    (It was helpful) learning a lot of the theories in actual detail (Bloom's taxonomy, ADDIE, the Japanese feedback loop, etc.) made a lot of abstract things concrete. Most of the articles were amazingly helpful. My favorite was the one including tips to maximize classroom assessment techniques (formative assessment). I didn't find anything unhelpful.

    I personally feel like it would have been better for the whole class if there was more personal interaction with John. Of course John did an awesome job and most of us including myself feel like he's a trustable friend but I like to think that there's always more we can do and John's a cool guy, I'm sure he'll agree.

    More of those activities involving us doing out-of-the-classroom research like the teacher interviews and so on would be beneficial.

    John and this class was a significant learning experience for me and I'll be sure to keep in touch with John. This class was worth it. Thank you.
    (PhD student – Psychology)

  • My sincere appreciation for introducing this course and making it available to all graduate students. First, the course has been invaluable to me. Not too sure I will be able to quantify its impact but the fact that I'm much more aware of my teaching, content delivery, students' learning, students' engagement, evaluating myself, seeking feedback from students, and influencing (in every little way possible) my fellow TAs and professors (sometimes) were all made possible by this class. In a nutshell, I learned a lot.

    Second, I think writing my teaching philosophy and designing a lesson plan were the most helpful content as they both help me to think very deeply about how I'd like to teach, what I'd like to pass on to my students, and how students learn. The articulation of these thoughts has been invaluable. Also, the various resources about teaching and learning generally, interviewing/observing faculty members, working in a team, and developing a teaching portfolio (though I have some reservations about this) - were all part of the contents of the course that I found very helpful.

    Third, I think more feedback by peers and instructors on presentation style and presentation slides should be emphasized. More time should also be spent by each student talking/presenting to his/her peers and it would be a nice idea to incorporate observation by peers. By this I mean, apart from observing faculty members, we should also observe our classmates in action and give/get feedback accordingly.

    Fourth, some of the ideas about making the course better have already been incorporated into the new practicum part of the course. But, in addition, group formation should be done at the beginning of the course so that the class can get to know each other better. Furthermore, over the course of a semester, it would be a good idea to have more than one group i.e. each person being a member of two to three different groups over the course of a semester would facilitate better understanding and appreciation of the diversity in the class.

    I think John is a fabulous instructor who sometimes go out of his way to be too nice. This is good however, I think he could (and should) be a bit more critical of our works - personally, that helps a lot as it affords the opportunity to grow and learn quicker. Also, at a point in the semester, the course got confusing and I was unsure of what was required of me - I think the communication and the clarity of what's expected each week can be improved upon. And the emails! - They do get too frequent sometimes. Better to send one long email than series of short ones (my preference though).

    All in all, it's been a very pleasurable and knowledge-filled experience and I couldn't commend both you and John enough for this fantastic opportunity - I learned a lot.
    (PhD student – Chemistry)

  • It was of a great value for me. I appreciate the different styles of teaching. I really know how to become a great teacher and what that really means. The ignite presentations were really helpful. It was a great experience. I have never thought I'd do something like this. I learned how to be succinct and manage my speech according to time.  The book we read and the review we wrote was really helpful. It answered a lot of questions and concerns I had previously. Different learning styles was great. I was exposed to different ideas about it.

    Probably the most helpful lesson was the critical thinking lesson. I really learned a lot from that. I learned from the articles and the websites he provided. The LEAP report was great. It helped me personally. I know where higher education is heading towards and what the most important skills students must learn is. I can change my teaching accordingly.

    The interview and observation was good. But the project (putting it all together) wasn't. The reason is because the presenters had to do most of the work.

    I would like more of the teaching styles. I would like to go deeper in that.  Less of the project. I feel that the project wasted some of our time. The presentations were good. But I feel that if we talked about something else it would've been more beneficial.

    Incorporating some videos of awesome teachers (either in class or as an assignment before class) would be interesting. This would emphasis a point or an idea you’re trying to make. At least we can observe how it looks like in real life.

    I really appreciate Dr. John for all his effort. He was really great in this course. I have learned a lot from this course and from him personally. After the first class I wasn't really satisfied or I didn't think I'll learn much. But, I kept talking about the class unconsciously all week to my friends and family. I realized then that I've learned a lot just from the first class and it'll be great and it was. I was a bit stressed during the semester (especially before his class), but after his class I would leave full of energy for the whole week. Finally, I will really miss him in my future academics.
    (PhD international student – Kinesiology, Nutrition, and Rehabilitation)

  • I found that this course is invaluable for someone who has not had a ton of teaching experience. I also found the introduction of teaching theory and design was unique to this course that is not offered in other similar courses with the same intentions. This foundation will help me as I move forward in my career as an academic.

    I found the multiple online resources and PDF's provided by my course mates and introduced by Dr. Lilley to be incredibly helpful. I did not know there was that much literature out there on how to teach at the University level. The hands on skills I have learned in this course will definitely be applied in my courses during the rest of my career.

    I would like to see more group discussion and less in class presentations. The group project did not add to my experience but the discussions that came out of the meetings were incredibly helpful. I think this course would be even better if the group built a WIKI or helped update a UIC website.

    I really enjoyed taking class with Dr. Lilley this semester. He is a very dynamic instructor and applies many student engagement techniques in his lesson plans. He is a great person and his enthusiasm and passion for academic learning is obvious from his teaching style and energy he brought to the classroom every week. I would really like to see this course continue and thrive.
    (PhD student – Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology)

  • I was lucky enough to be funded through this MA program by a Teaching Assistantship for the past 4 semesters. The main reason I decided to take the GC 593 course was because I do not have a teaching background and I wanted to learn how to improve my teaching.

    I am going to tell you about the aspects I really enjoyed in the course. I enjoyed that most of the work was done in class, especially since this is my last semester at UIC and my time became more constrained. Through this course I have been able to develop new strategies to help my students learn the material and have been encouraged to go outside the box as well. I have also learned to reflect on my teaching and improve on my mistakes from one class to the next. For example, when I held a review session in my discussions, I was not able to effectively steer the review session in my Wednesday class, but was able to improve this in my Friday class by being more assertive and guiding the review session towards subjects more pertinent to the exams. Through this course I also became more confident and better able to evaluate my own teaching.

    I wish I had taken the first part of the course, because I feel I was lacking some theory when starting the course. I don’t think I can develop a teaching portfolio on my own, but with some guidance I could. This might have been covered in the previous course, but a little more emphasis in course design would be nice and how to develop a course. Overall, I really enjoyed the course and I am recommending it to the graduate students in my department.
    (MA student – Latin American and Latino Studies)

  • Some of the students taking GC593 are very enthused and were going to meet for coffee to talk about the course and our own teaching. It's a really great class. Thanks again for helping me get registered.
    (UIC postdoc)

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