I am a senior in college and now that I am about to graduate I now realized that I want to devote my life to languages. I am already fluent in Spanish, but I want to teach it and I obviously need credentials for that.

I don’t really want to teach K-12, I want to teach adults, like a college setting or in an actual language school (I know ages vary from teens to elders, but I don’t mind).

My counselor told me to just get a masters in Spanish. I wanted to double major in Spanish and accounting but my counselor told me it was too late and that not all classes are offered every year.

What should I do?

I am a TA for an undergraduate class, and I have the following situation:

Usually, I give my (one-hour) lectures (which consists of solving exercises and reviewing theory as needed) at Thursdays 12 p.m., but this week they have the midterm right at this time, so I decided to move this week’s lecture to Tuesday (today) to help the students. The professor is aware of this and saw no problem, although it might be relevant to say that I had no obligation to do so: I could say “there’s no lecture this week” and be done with it. Instead, I said that this lecture would be at the same time, 12 p.m., but I mistakingly wrote 1 p.m. at the webpage of the course. When a student emailed me yesterday asking for confirmation, I hastily confirmed the 1 p.m. mistake, only to realize the screw up.

To minimize the harm, I decided to show up at 12 p.m. and give a two-hour lecture. I put a follow-up message on the webpage informing that I would be there earlier, and sent an email to that student (I do not have everyone’s email address). A lot of people showed up at 12, asked their questions, then a lot more people appeared at 1, visibly upset, and asked their questions. All in all, in the end, it seemed that everyone had their questions addressed, so I won’t lose any sleep over this.

I would like to know, though, if I could have dealt with the situation better. Or if there is a standard strategy for dealing with this kind of mistake (certainly I’m not the first nor will be the last TA to do this).

I am teaching a large Humanities class (150+ students) in the US this semester and am in the process of grading midterm essays. This is my first time teaching a class this large and I’m not sure how to handle feedback.

With smaller classes, I always liked to give students very detailed feedback, so that they could understand why they got the grade they got and so that they could improve their writing in the future. This is very time consuming and therefore unpractical with that many students. I also do not want to burden the TA helping me grade either.

I’m wondering what the best course of action is?
Should I just give them their grades and tell them to come to office hours if they want to have more detailed feedback ?

Related: How to motivate students to complete low-point homework?

One of my undergraduate professors had a similar problem to the OP’s in the above question, that is, that students would skip many minor low-point assignments in favor of studying for big exams, and the professor felt that not completing every single assignment resulted in a lower-quality learning experience even though a student’s average still might be passing or even excellent.

The professor’s solution was a policy that any student who failed to complete all assignments would be automatically assigned a zero for the course. That is, the student did not have an opportunity to accept a zero for the assignment that was not done – they would instead get an automatic F for the course. There was no requirement that each assignment be perfect, or even good – the requirement was that you had to at least attempt and turn something in for each assignment.

Are there any problems with this strategy from a pedagogical or ethics perspective? Obviously, some universities permit this and some do not, and the instructor in question did announce this policy in the syllabus at the beginning of the course, but I’m asking from a more general or best practices perspective. It seems to me that this is a non-optimal solution, more specifically one that is using an academic assessment system (grades/GPA) improperly as a behavioral management technique. That is, this strategy is similar/analogous to dropping a student’s grade from a B to a C because they brought a weapon to class, or (in reverse) restricting a student from attending a campus dance because they did not demonstrate sufficient mastery of Boyle’s Law (implementing a behavioral intervention when an academic one such as a lowered grade would have been more appropriate).

Is this a fair assessment of the situation, or is such a strategy a legitimate tool?

Obviously, the minimum level of effort required to constitute “completing” an assignment was vague and something I did not actually inquire into – one might wonder whether or not turning in a piece of paper with “I like pie, here is Boyle’s Law, Boyle’s Law is great, the answer to all of the questions on this assignment is THREE.” would have sufficed (well, it would have been more than a blank page!). That also concerns me – whether or not being able to identify a boundary between making random guesses that effectively constitute not trying at all and an entirely incompetent, but sincere, attempt to complete the assignment (e.g. answers are all wrong, student failed to apply recent best practices covered in lecture, student confused Ohm’s Law with Boyle’s Law, student did not express all results to two significant figures as insisted upon in the instructions, answer was in French when English was required, student claimed that Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy was invented by Freud in 1543 and is generally considered effective in treating acute alcohol intoxication, student claimed that Orange is the New Black is a prime example of early twelfth-century Anglo-Saxon epic poetry, etc.), matters in determining whether or not such a penalty should be allowed.

This question has nothing to do with cheating or plagiarism.

Note: This was NOT Competency-Based Education (CBE). This was a regular engineering class that just happened to have this odd policy tacked on because the instructor was sick to death of students skipping his little 2 point assignments that he thought were critical. The course was otherwise entirely normal.

In response to @aeismail, yes, assignments could be turned in up until the date of the final exam, at least for purposes of not automatically failing the course for failing to turn something in.

I do not have a stellar first authored publication record as I am finishing towards earning a PhD in environmental science. I do have several conference abstracts and a few coauthored publications, however. I came across a non-tenure track academic job that is purely focused on teaching elementary environment science courses with an additional academic management role. Assuming the search committee is primarily interested in my teaching experiences, is it worthwhile to list my publications/proceedings in my CV? What are the pros and cons? My fear is that the search committee might flag me as a candidate who is occupying the position temporarily (they are looking for someone permanent) based on publications/research interests. I am genuinely interested in the job to gain teaching experience no matter how much I love doing research. Thanks in advance!

I am a PhD student and will be teaching my first class in the fall. I would like to have an engaging class. Meaning that I would rather not just stand at the front of the class and lecture the entire time. I have had some teaching experience with smaller class sizes (up to 20) but am not sure how to handle a larger class (enrolment of 80+).

For smaller classes, I have used: in class discussions, games, breaking out into small groups, student-led discussions/debates. I feel these would not work for a large class.

What are your tried and true methods and ideas for engaging a larger class?

My class is a 3rd year class, expected enrolment of 80, and I will have access to an iClicker.

Added notes based on comments:

  • The class I am teaching is Adult Development and Aging
  • Based in Canada
  • I will have one teaching assistant (TA), with about 70 hours


I am organising and conducting the exercises for a graduate course.
The exercises mainly exist to give the students the opportunity to learn by doing.
However, the students also need to participate to some extent to be admitted to a final exam.
Exercises are given out as homework one week before the class.
During the class, students present their solutions to the exercises, which are discussed by other students and me.
We evaluate this as follows (which is mostly standard at my university):

  • At the beginning of each exercise class, a paper containing student names and the numbers of the exercises is passed around and each student checks those those tasks for which they feel that they can present a reasonable attempt to solve it.
    This attempt does not need to be complete or correct; they should just be able to show what they tried and, if they failed, elaborate where they are stuck.

  • During the exercise class, the student presenting a given task is selected at random from those who checked it.

  • Tasks are so small that most of them cannot be reasonably divided into subtasks.
    (This should reduce the uncertainty how to report when only half of a task was attempted.)

  • To be admitted to the final exam, a student has to have checked at least half of all tasks.
    There is no benefit for students who have checked more exercises.

Mainly, the system seems to be working well:
I haven’t spotted an overly optimistic self-report yet and I currently expect that 0.3 students will fail the exercise criterion.

Actual Question

My biggest issue with this system is that there is a huge variation amongst students regarding how optimistic or pessimistic their self-assessment is.
In particular the system can make life more difficult for pessimistic students.
For example it happened that a student who (legitimately) checked a task and was chosen to present her attempt was stuck at some point, and another student volunteered to help out even though he did not check the task.

Hence I am asking: Is there anything I can do to effect less variability in these self-reports? In particular, I would like to flatten the pessimistic side of the spectrum.

And just because somebody is bound to remark that life is harsh and the pessimistic students need to be more optimistic anyway: Yes, but I may be able to help them learn this.