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Center for Teaching Excellence

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Five GTA/GIAs Awarded Teaching Resource Development Grants

Graduate teaching assistants Rochelle Altman, Camryn Garrett, Olivia Darr Weakland, Shea Ferguson, and Chihchi (Sunny) Tsai, were awarded grants for the development of instructional materials, modules, cross-curriculum assessments, online learning innovations, or other resources that will enhance the quality and depth of undergraduate student learning at the University of South Carolina. The resource(s) to be developed was chosen by the grantee, designed to be incorporated into a specific course or curriculum, capable of application and transformation into an array of disciplines and/or student learning levels, and shared with CTE for broad distribution. Grantees are provided pedagogical assistance in the development of instructional materials and resources, application and implementation of appropriate pedagogical theory, and guidance in usage of innovative teaching and/or assessment techniques whether in face-to-face or online modality. 

Bios and project descriptions provided by awardees.

Rochelle Altman and Camryn Garrett (team)

Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior

Rochelle Altman has a background as a school psychologist and behavior analyst in public schools and private practice in South Carolina and California. Her doctorate in school psychology was completed at Loyola University, Chicago and undergraduate in psychology at the College of Charleston. This fall she will enter her second year in the HPEB doctoral program and will continue to work closely with Dr. Rachel Davis conducting research involving marginalized and underserved groups. In the future, Rochelle hopes to contribute to research to advance maternal and child health equity.

Camryn Garrett received a Master of Public Health and her bachelor's degree in Global Public Health and Sociology from the University of Virginia. She currently performs research under Dr. Shan Qiao on a variety of projects exploring the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the future, she hopes to leverage innovative methods to advance research on social media platforms while increasing the accessibility of scientific findings.

Project Description

Altman and Garrett will be developing a series of training modules regarding mandatory reporting requirements for graduate teaching and instructional assistants (GTA/GIAs), to be provided during GTA/GIA Orientations as well as hosted on relevant university websites. The proposed project will develop recorded videos, supporting documents and resources, and potentially an interactive training session in order to facilitate a better understanding of mandated reporting procedures. These training products will aid GTA/GIAs (and others in the university community who are considered mandatory reporters) by detailing the reporting requirements with clear procedures and associated resources within the university and community, and will be accessible at any time. Special attention will be devoted to what constitutes a situation for reporting and what course of actions GTA/GIAs should take utilizing the available resources. These materials will be developed in collaboration with appropriate university offices, in particular the Office of Access and Opportunity and the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX, and will help ensure a safe and inclusive university climate, along with protecting the confidentiality and rights of students. As each reporting instance is a unique set of circumstances, preparing GTA/GIAs by equipping them with all the necessary information will strengthen not only their future skills as faculty and staff but will ensure a safe and inclusive climate at the university.

Camryn Garrett and Rochelle Altman

Olivia Darr Weakland

Health Services, Policy, and Management

Olivia Darr Weakland is currently working towards both a Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health.  She is also pursuing three certificates in Drug & Addiction Studies, Military Mental Health, and Psychiatric Rehabilitation. She serves as a teaching assistant for two undergraduate courses, is a graduate assistant for the College of Social Work, a research assistant with Dr. Christina Andrews within the Arnold School of Public Health and an intern for the Dorn Medical Center VA Hospital.  Her future plans involve continuing her education with a Ph.D. or DSW while pursuing full-time work within a Veteran’s Affairs hospital. Olivia also hopes to continue teaching endeavors within the public health or social work field.

Project Description

To promote student motivation, collaboration, and engagement, Darr Weakland will be developing and implementing a semester-long assessment project and rubric for HSPM 412 Health Economics taught by Dr. Nicole Hair, a required course for majors in the Public Health B.A. and B.S. programs. Darr Weakland will be using PeerWise, a cost-free, user-friendly online platform where students can create, share, and evaluate multiple-choice questions. She plans to develop a series of PeerWise assignments throughout the semester and as part of the final assignment module; in these assignments, students will develop a question, provide a detailed explanation of both correct and incorrect answers, and interact with other student-provided questions by providing feedback. By using this platform, students will be able to actively gauge their understanding of course concepts, help create a sense of community in the learning environment, and increase motivation and engagement. Darr Weakland also plans to create a user guide for PeerWise, detailing account creation and platform features for both students and instructors, along with assignment development guidelines and an assessment rubric that can be modified for other courses.  

Olivia Darr

Shea Ferguson

Educational Studies, Educational Psychology and Research

Shea Ferguson is a PhD student in the Educational Psychology and Research program and a member of the Motivation and Emotion in Learning Lab (led by Dr. Melissa Duffy, Assistant Professor). Ferguson received her undergraduate degree in social sciences from the University at Buffalo in 2015. She teaches classroom assessment (EDRM 423) and will be joining the Center for Integrative and Experiential Learning as a graduate assistant this coming Fall. Her research interests include learner beliefs, motivation, emotion, and self-regulation. Her teaching interests include fostering the three basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, relatedness) to best promote a classroom that is inclusive and intellectually stimulating.

Project Description

Ferguson will be assisting Dr. Christine DiStefano with the re-alignment and updating of the EDRM 423 Introduction to Classroom Assessment course. EDRM 423, a critical and required course for all pre-service teachers, is being updated and reassessed to ensure proper alignment between the new textbook, learning objectives, class activities and assessments, and student products. Classroom assessments and activities will also be revised to include current practices such as culturally responsive assessment and error analysis, active demonstration and modeling, self-reflection, and development of an authentic final project where student groups create a sustainable, shareable resource based on a specific assessment topic. Ferguson's role will be to both assist Dr. DiStefano with the re-alignment of the course, and specifically to take the lead on creating the final project assignment. Outside of the benefit to the EDRM 423 course sections, a workshop can be created that can be shared with other instructors in different departments for how to create a final project that is sustainable and aligns with the course goals.        

Shea Ferguson

Chihchi (Sunny) Tsai

Languages, Literatures, and Cultures / Chinese

Chihchi Sunny Tsai is currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree in Comparative Literature at USC with a focus on postcolonial theories and contemporary Taiwan literature. She received her B.A. from the National Taiwan University. She has taught Mandarin Chinese since 2019 and is creating modules of meaningful linguistic input for intermediate-level students.

Project Description

Tsai’s project will be integrated into CHIN 322, Advanced Intermediate Chinese, offered in Spring 2023. Current instructional materials focus on students’ reading abilities, and Tsai’s teaching experience has shown that despite excelling at reading Chinese texts, students have difficulty comprehending spoken Chinese at a real-time speed. This project aims to fix that problem by developing students’ Chinese listening skills at this advanced level through 14 listening-focused learning exercises assigned through the semester via online Blackboard modules. At the end of the semester, students will interpret a selected audio or video that contains conversations conducted in Chinese and discuss the content in a 20-minute presentation on their final oral exam. The benefit of online modules is that students can listen to the audio multiple times and work with the script simultaneously, helping students to bridge their advanced reading skills with listening skills. The format and structure of the modules can then be provided as a package to instructors that wish to develop such language modules, along with a guide on how to develop the module and associated assignments. 

Chihchi Tsai

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.