PROMISE: Maryland's AGEP

“Preparing for the Professoriate” Workshops on Fri. Nov. 5

In PROF-it, PROMISE: Maryland's AGEP on November 1, 2010 at 5:05 PM

On Friday November 5, two of our campuses will focus on teaching!  Our PROMISE program is an AGEP initiative (National Science Foundation’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate) that includes professional development workshops that focus on training for the professoriate.  We want our graduate students to be equipped and prepared for all aspects of faculty life.  This Friday’s workshops will focus on public speaking and preparing teaching portfolios.

UMBC Seminar:

Public Speaking for College Teaching

This is a PROF-it Professors-in-Training Seminar

Friday, November 5, 2010

12 Noon – 2 PM, Commons 329, UMBC Campus

Speaker: Dr. Renetta Tull, Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Development

Dr. Tull speaks across the US and Puerto Rico and will be sharing tips for teaching on 11/5.  Prior to coming to UMBC, she was a Faculty member at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is an Adjunct at the University of Maryland College Park.  As a student, Dr. Tull was a TA Fellow with  Northwestern University’s Searle Center for Teaching Excellence.


UMCP Seminar:

Teaching Portfolios

Speaker:  Dr. Spencer Benson, Director of the UMCP Center for Teaching Excellence

Date: Friday Afternoon, 3:00 – 5:00pm
Event: Ph.D. Completion Project Workshops
Location: Ulrich Recital Hall, Tawes Hall. RSVP:

Dr. Spencer Benson is the Director of the  Center for Teaching Excellence, associate professor in the Dept. of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics and an affiliate associate professor in the Dept. of Curriculum and Instruction.  He is responsible for overseeing more than 20 programs designed to improve teaching and learning through professional development of faculty, graduate students and undergraduates.

  1. Author: Judith Pollack
    Date: Thursday, November 4, 2010 10:37:51 PM EDT
    Subject: PROF-it 11/5/2010 – Public Speaking for Classroom Teaching

    Public Speaking for College Teaching

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    12 Noon – 2 PM, Commons 329, UMBC Campus

    Speaker: Dr. Renetta Tull, Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Development

    In this session you have the opportunity to teach a small section of a class. Your “students” are other graduate students who are not familiar with your field. Use these questions below to jump start the discussion.

    1. What are the challenges of teaching a concept that is new to your “students”?

    2. Any specific strategy or practice that you learned during this session, and plan to apply in your future teaching?

    1. What are the challenges of teaching a concept that is new to your “students”?

    One example of a challenge is: being able to convey the information at the appropriate level for the students. That is to say, to make sure that if you are teaching a subject to beginners that you tailor your material to beginners in that discipline and not for more advanced students. Another challenge is making the subject matter interesting and intriguing to the students. Although the students will hopefully come into the class already interested in the subject matter, this is not always the case. Also, if the professor does not also show a genuine interest in their subject matter, then it is hard to engender the same level interest in the students. In the sciences and mathematics, I have noticed that some professors are more concerned with getting all the information they can out to the students without really paying too much mind as to whether or not the students are absorbing and comprehending the material. It’s kind of a “sink or swim” mentality. I don’t think it has to be this way, but I understand the dilemma of having a lot of information that the student must be exposed to by the end of the semester versus taking the time to ensure that students actually understand that information.

    2. Any specific strategy or practice that you learned during this session, and plan to apply in your future teaching?

    I think the idea of including real life examples of how to use what the students are learning is always valuable and is something I would include in my teaching methods. Also, the use of in-class activities, although time consuming, I think is also a good way to make sure your students really understand and know how to use the skills and knowledge you are teaching them.

    Also, I was going to do a presentation about Water and it’s importance to life:

    I was going to start out asking the class about the structure of water and then go into an explanation about how the structure of water plays in to the properties of water that we observe, and that are beneficial to life, such as: the density of water in the solid phase is less than the liquid phase (atypical of most other similar chemicals) which allows for ice to float (this was going to be a class participation point). This is important for aquatic life because when ice floats on top of the water in the winter, it provides an insulating layer which protects the life below from freezing. Or, that the high heat of vaporization observed is beneficial for metabolism because the heat generated from metabolism can be dissipated through evaporation of water (ie, sweating).

    The take home lesson would be although water is a small, relatively simple molecule it’s unique properties are very important to the existence of life on this planet.

    -This comment is mirrored on UMBC’s Blackboard site for Prof-It (Professors-in-training)Program.

    • 1. What are the challenges of teaching a concept that is new to your “students”?

      I do not currently teach, however, I have been a tutor. The thing I find the most challenging about teaching new concepts to students is discovering where the disconnect in the topic is for them. Although a subject matter may appear to be straightforward to me that doesn’t make it so for the student. Another challenge is understanding HOW your student learns and processes information because every student isn’t the same. There is no cookie cutter approach to teaching.

      2. Any specific strategy or practice that you learned during this session, and plan to apply in your future teaching?

      I like the idea of being well prepared, or even overly prepared. It allows me to settle deeper into my comfort zone and teach with ease when I know that I have all of my “ducks in a row”.

      5 tips for teaching and public speaking:

      1. Show sensitivity and concern with class level and progress.
      2. Be well prepared and organized for the course.
      3. Demonstrate knowledge of the subject as well as enthusiasm.
      4. Show clarity and strive to be understandable.
      5. Encourage students by showing a high level of availability and helpfulness.


      -This comment is mirrored on UMBC’s Blackboard site for Prof-It (Professors-in-training)Program.

  2. Here are a couple tips that I found to be helpful when conducting public speaking. I gathered these resources directly from Toastmasters International

    1. “Know your material”. It is important to choose a topic you are interested in such that when questions arise you are able venture outside of your prepared material if need be.

    2.”Concentrate on the message – not the medium”. This tip focuses on the importance of concentrating on the message of your talk and your audience rather than your own anxieties.

    3.. “Know the Audience” This tip is important because the speaker needs to understand the background of the audience to ensure they will be able to follow the talk/lecture. If under-prepared, the audience members may follow the lecture. If overprepared, the audience may become bored.

    The next 2 tips come from Iowa State University’s Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. Source:

    4. “Create a non-threatening environment”. Learning a STEM subject can be intimidating for some students. Therefore creating an environment where all students including those who traditionally are not enrolled in STEM majors is important to ensure their retention.

    5. “Be Accessible” Many students have questions but some may be uncomfortable asking them in front of their peers. Being accessible outside of the classroom is important to student learning.

    In regards to the question posed above, challenges teaching a concept new to other graduate students is the challenge of gaining their interest. Graduate students are very busy with many responsibilities, therefore in order to grasp their attention you must have a dynamic method of teaching. A topic that I would teach other students in my department would surround drug delivery devices that are used with biologic drugs for treating rheumatoid arthritis. I would choose this topic because it is completely different from what we learn in our core courses and also can be helpful for students interested in learning about medical devices. I would use visual items to grasp student’s attention as well as would put students in teams to work on activities. I would briefly expose the students to the FDA regulation 21 CFR 820.30 which deals with Quality System Regulations for Design Controls of Medical Devices.

    • -This comment is mirrored on UMBC’s Blackboard site for Prof-It (Professors-in-training)Program.

  3. Challenge of Teaching New Concepts

    Students are often required to take classes that are not related to their major. This is often a challenge because some students become complacent with the logic of their academic disciplines and have difficultly thinking from other perspectives. Instructors must be able to entice students into thinking outside of their normal scope; this will enable students to fully understand the concepts introduced in the class. For some students the solution may be to forget everything they have been taught while in the new class setting, while others may be able to build an understanding of the new subject from concepts taught in their discipline.

    Future Strategies

    In the future I plan to utilize the outline strategy explained during the session. I appreciated how the outline highlighted the main portion of the lecture. This strategy will help students stay on track during the class. I also will try to engage my audience more in the future. I learned that when you engage the crowd it helps everyone stay alert and aware of the subject.

    Teaching Session

    The concept that I planned to “teach” was a basic overview of computer networks. I also planned to draw a diagram of a mock network. In my presentation I planned to explain:

    − The first three levels of the OSI model

    − Subnets

    − VLANs

    − MAC addresses

    − IP addresses


    Five tips for teaching and public speaking:

    1. Beginning the lecture (or course)

    − Begin the course or the lecture with a question or questions which help you to understand what students are thinking.

    2. Inviting participation

    − Create an atmosphere that encourages student participation by using a conversational tone and not criticizing student questions or comments in front of the class.

    3. Punctuating the lecture with questions

    − Ask questions throughout the lecture, so that the lecture becomes more of a conversation.

    4. Varying the format

    − To vary the traditional lecture format, ask students, by section, to make presentations, do role plays, illustrate a position dramatically, debate a point. Or, ask TAs to give short presentations on areas of their expertise. Then invite the whole class to discuss the points illustrated.

    5. Closing the lecture

    − Allow time for questions at the end of lecture.


    Harvard University Derek Bok Center and Learning. “Twenty Ways to Make Lectures More Participatory.” Harvard University Derek Bok Center and Learning. Harvard University, 2002-2010. Web. 9 Nov. 2010 .

    This post is mirrored on UMBC’s Blackboard site for the PROF-it
    (Professors-in-Training) Program.

  4. Here are some tips that I found at the Mind tools website:

    1. Understand what you want to achieve: WHO are you speaking to, WHAT do you wish to communicate, HOW can you best convey this message, and WHY are the listeners interested?

    2. Keep it simple: Limit the content of each bullet point on your presentation, and remember that the audience will not have to be experts after the talk.

    3. Be prepared: Be mindful of the communication process, and ensure your communication is effective.

    4. Unforgettable delivery: Delivery of the presentation will make it or break it. Use examples, have up-beat body language, don’t talk too fast, use different tones of voice, and use visual aids.

    More general tips for public speaking can be found at

    Some tips on this website address how to use visual aids, choosing content for your speech, and how to prepare your voice for your presentation.

    5. Avoid Dairy products before your talk (this keeps your throat clear); practice breath control and find a natural standing body position. (This tip is something that really helps me prepare for a presentation)

    A basic class that I could teach would be a General Chemistry course. I would create goals for each class (keep it simple). I think the best teachers I have had in the past always understood the different backgrounds of their students. It is important to tailor a class for STEM-majoring students slightly differently than for non-STEM students (know WHO you are speaking to). I would also give plenty examples for each lesson; I found this particularly helpful in many of my chemistry classes that involve mathematics.

    This post is mirrored on UMBC’s Blackboard site for the PROF-it (Professors-in-training) Program.

  5. 1. What are the challenges of teaching a concept that is new to your “students”

    One of the challenges of teaching a new concept to students is for students to understand fundamental concepts that serve as “building blocks” for the information expected to be learned. To clarify, as a scientist and researcher I encounter numerous equations that are committed to memory. Sometimes the use of these equations becomes commonplace such that it is natural to apply them without hesitation. However, for a new student who is just learning the same material, he or she may not have the same experience in using the equation and may struggle to pick up why the equation was used. For example a Professor writing a math proof may use the multiplication of polynomials. It is conceivable that the professor will employ the ‘foil” method to multiply the polynomials but students who are unfamiliar with the method may struggle to understand the proof.

    2. Any specific strategy or practice that you learned during this session, and plan to apply in your future teaching?

    The strategy of “Think-Pair-Share” allows the instructor to teach concepts to larger groups while still have incorporating active learning. Think-Pair-Share divides the classroom into groups and requires the groups to discuss and report about the assigned topic. The professor can ensure that the discussion is being carried out by randomly selecting groups to report to the class. This method has application for study groups and classroom discussions
    In addition to receiving tips and strategies for teaching in a classroom setting, several members of the audience were able to demonstrate their teaching methods with a 3 to 5 minute lesson. The topic I chose to present covers “Planar Kinematics”, with an emphasis on determining degree of freedom for planar mechanisms and structures. I would first draw the attention of the class by comparing their arm to a planar mechanism. Students would then be called on to describe the types of joints necessary to fully move the arm. An explanation about the degree of freedom that each joint allows the arm to move would follow. At the conclusion of the lesson students will understand how to calculate degree of freedom in planar mechanism and structures as well as the different types of planar joints.
    -This comment is mirrored on UMBC’s Blackboard site for Prof-It (Professors-in-training) Program

  6. Don’t Cover It All: Base lecture on most important materials in text or material that students may need extra help understanding.
    Make Choices: Lecture should only have three to four main ideas that are detailed to avoid overwhelming students.
    Get Active: Have the students engage in active learning by allowing students to “solve problems, answer questions, formulate questions of their own, discuss, explain, debate, or brainstorm” during the lecture.
    Pose Reflective Questions: Ask difficult “reflective questions” and explanation questions that require and explanation instead of a yes or no.
    Get Them Writing: Ask students to write about a discussion question first for 3 to 5 minutes of lecture so they can gather their thoughts, feel more comfortable, and will not forget about
    If I were teaching a basic college level course such as “Introduction to Optical Engineering”, I would start by highlighting four important topics that are related closely and have clear connections. The physical meaning of the effects and equations will be explained, such as “Snell’s Law”, which governs the direction of like that is incident, reflected, and transmitted through a material. In order to get the students active, laser light will be transmitted through a container of water, and students will be asked to explain the reason why light changes direction in the water. Other topics, examples, and experiments can easily be set up for later lectures.
    “This post is mirrored on UMBC’s Blackboard site for the PROF-it
    (Professors-in-Training) Program.”

  7. 1. What are the challenges of teaching a concept that is new to your “students”?

    One of the challenges I had to overcome was keeping up with “new” material. It is not always easy to try to teach something “new”, by “new” I refer to something that the students are not used to or it is the first time they are going to be exposed to, and at the same time capture their attention to follow the discussion. I see this challenge as a very important one because it will determine the flow of the class, and the beginning of the semester you will know how you’re supposed to make your lectures. Another challenge is to make students understand that you don’t have all the answers, and that there might be sections in classes where one is supposed to take a moment and go back to correct oneself about something that might not be clear.

    2. Any specific strategy or practice that you learned during this session, and plan to apply in your future teaching?

    The specific strategy that impacted me from the main rules provided, the green sheet we were given, was the Review-New-Review method. This is not always used by professors, and I recall having a couple of instructors that applied it, and it was extremely helpful, that would be something I would definitely use.

    My class was going to be related to common knowledge, my topic’s title was: “About Tijuana…”. I was going to start my lesson with something that amazed me when I got to Baltimore and that is that some people believe that San Diego is too far away from the International Border. I was going to continue talking about general ideas that many Americans I have the pleasure of crossing paths with have regarding border crossing and that as soon as you cross the border into Mexico, you will not catch a bullet. Then I would have continued with general fun facts on the topic.

    “This post is mirrored on UMBC’s Blackboard site for the PROF-it (Professors-in-Training) Program.”

  8. 1)
    Is the information presented at an appropriate level for the class?

    * For example, an introductory class should not get into details intended for more advanced students

    The number of topics covered vs. the scope of those topics

    * Student are expected to learn the concepts of the class, but they should not be overloaded with so much information, that it is hard to tell if they are absorbing the information. Some topics need to taken slowly, stressed, or even repeated. The professor must determine which topics should be touch on and which should be covered in more detail.

    How to keep the students engaged?

    * Some topics/subjects can be less interesting as others, so it is important to incorporate some sort of activity or discussion to keep the students involved and interested.


    The biggest key is preparation. Have a plan of what you are going to teach that day, that week, and that semester. A future technique I will use is to engage the class, whether it’s choosing a random student to answer a question or starting a class discussion about a topic.

    What I was going to “teach” was TCP/IP packet structure and how it relates to my research.

    -TCP/IP packet structure (source/destination IP/port, sequence/acknowledgment number, Flags, timestamps)

    -TCP 3-way handshake (with a diagram)

    -How to calculate packet round trip time

    “This post is mirrored on UMBC’s Blackboard site for the PROF-it (Professors-in-Training) Program.”

  9. Challenges:
    1. Dry subjects: I have a little experience of teaching in high school and from that experience, I can tell that most students looked at Mathematics as a dry subject, a subject that did not appeal to them or was relevant.
    2. Participation: Students are rarely involved into the material that is being taught. What I would like is active participation from students.

    From my personal experience, making a lesson plan ahead of class really helps. Your lesson plan is usually divided in various parts: credit problem that is based on previous class, followed by a question that leads into what will be taught today, then the material you will teach (using audio-visual tools if necessary), and finally exercise based on today’s lesson.

    I was also able to find some tips about student participation online from :

    1. leading students: providing clues to lead them to your expected answer
    2. students’ thoughts: encourage critical thinking
    3. group work: let students work in group and then present their thoughts
    4. comfort level: talking to students informally before class helps them relax
    5. audio-visual tools: by using audio-visual tools, provide activities for students to learn material in a different way.
    This comment is mirrored on UMBC’s Blackboard site for the PROF-it
    (Professors-in-Training) Program.

  10. […] “Preparing for the Professoriate” Workshops on Fri. Nov. 5 […]

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