Although I have been involved in teaching in the past, the CUTF has offered me a unique role in the classroom this fall. The greatest difference from my past experience is that I have been able to reach a larger number of students. I have gone from helping a small number of students in focused groups to teaching larger groups. Although the increased attendance has been exciting and rewarding, it was initially very challenging. The range of content comprehension and understanding always varies greatly in my sessions, so I have learned to become more flexible in my teaching style. One aspect of teaching I have struggled with is framing my sessions to develop new patterns of thinking for my students. For many, chemistry may involve memorizing the drill of problems. However, for courses beyond General Chemistry, it is necessary to apply learned knowledge to novel situations; for this reason, I encouraged my students to challenge themselves and each other. I found myself similarly pushed to devise problems that would accomplish this.
Interestingly, leading the sessions and seeing students interact with each other has shown the power of peer studying. Many students appreciated my help, but more interestingly, students would sometimes answer each other’s questions. This reinforces learning on the student teaching, and the one who receives help receives information communicated by another student. The dynamics of these exchanges in my reviews have been very insightful
Participating in teaching has contributed greatly to my development as a student and lifelong learner; I have never been so interested in refining my teaching skills. This experience has increased my confidence not only in the content but in speaking and teaching others. I noticed I have been more enthusiastic to study in groups and teach others content as a method of reviewing. Overall, the CUTF has allowed me to gain confidence and stronger communication skills, which have helped me succeed in other areas of my academics.
This concludes my journey in the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship. I will reflect on my time this semester to make my spring teaching semester even better. Dr. Bell and I will continue to refine the class homework system to maximize success for the students. As for what comes next for me personally, I must finish this semester and complete my final semester of Biology in the spring. In the meantime, I would like to explore teaching for other courses alongside Chemistry and further use what I have learned.
Finally, I want to thank my mentor, Dr. Pete Bell. His insight, patience, and kindness have enabled me to take on this project. I would also like to thank the Frederick Honors College and Brett Say for enabling me to explore my passion for teaching. This semester has been incredibly rewarding, and I am very fortunate that I am able to participate in this special opportunity at Pitt.