On February 22, 2019, I had the honor of sharing my experiences and thoughts on using podcast creation as an assignment in an economic course.
Below are some resources that you may find helpful:
Other useful outside resources:
This section serves as my teaching portfolio. Here I express my thoughts on various aspects of teaching, discuss and share some examples of my work, and talk about my goals and ways I am growing as teacher. For quick access, you can download:
Why I Teach
I teach to help students unlock the mysteries of the world and find their place in it. The world is beautiful. This beauty largely stems from how things fit together, make sense, and connect. I desire that students not only learn facts about the world (dots), but also the connections between (lines). The lines reveal the picture. Isolated facts have no value and, when they come at the expense of understanding and context, they can actually get in the way of fully understanding or appreciating the world’s beauty.
Teachers help students know facts. Good teachers connect those facts. Great teachers help students see how those connections make a picture of the world, and help students understand how they fit in that picture. My goal is to be a great teacher to as many students as possible that they may see the world, appreciate its beauty and impact it positively.
My portfolio is organized into the following sections:
- My Effectiveness: Is the effort I put into teaching actually paying off? Here I discuss measures of my effectiveness and share some samples of evaluations as well as other metrics and samples.
- Planning: Quality teaching starts long before class starts. In this section I share examples of and my thoughts about designing courses (syllabi) and preparing for classes (lesson plans).
- Student Assessment: I assess students know if they are obtaining the course’s learning objectives, and to help inform me of my effectiveness.
- Professional Development: I can’t maintain my enthusiasm and passion if I’m not learning and growing. In this section I share my goals for professional development as well as my experiences thus far.
Conferences, Workshops & Classes
Below are a selection of my reflections on some more formal professional development experiences I have had (such as conferences and seminars).
Cornell Course: The Practice of Teaching in Higher Education
This course encouraged me to critically reflect on teaching and who I was as an educator, and greatly helped me develop my professional teaching identity.
Cornell Center for Teaching Excellence – Graduate Teaching Fellow
In the 20015-2016 academic year I was a fellow at Cornell’s Center for Teaching Excellence. I have benefited significantly from the opportunity to think about teaching methods, talk about pedagogy and educational theory and become involved in teaching others. I have developed a commitment to intentionally pursuing further professional teaching development through seminars, or conferences as I have seen their value as I pursue excellence in my teaching. Furthermore, I have been able to put what I’m learning in to practice immediately, consciously pursuing active learning opportunities in class. This semester, after the midterm, I divided students up into groups to each solve one problem from the exam. Each group, with my help, explained their answer to the class. Students were so encouraged by their ability to learn from each other that I then facilitated the formation of study groups to empower that type of learning to grow.
Mentors & Peers
As I seek to continue to grow and develop as an instructor I recognize the value of learning from other teachers.
David Way is one teaching expert that I have had the opportunity to interact with and learn from. He was my instructor for the course “The Practice of Teaching in Higher Education”. This course encouraged me to critically reflect on teaching and who I was as an educator, and greatly helped me develop my professional teaching identity. He also observed and provided feedback for a workshop I taught on dealing with difficult classroom situations for the Center for Teaching Excellence in the Fall of 2015.
As a fellow with Cornell’s Center for Teaching Excellence one of the most valuable experiences has been the opportunity to interact with other graduate students who are also passionate about teaching. I have learned so much from hearing about their experiences and listening to their points of view.
Most quizzes that I have seen used in economics only test the most basic skills of memorization and regurgitation. Therefore, I am generally not a proponent of using conventional quizzes as any substantial part of assessment.
I have heard of promising alternative forms, such as unlimited try quizzes – where the quiz serves to promote mastery, that I would be open to experimenting with.
Another scenario in which I might employ a quiz as if I was teaching a class that was very dependent on student contribution and student work prior to the class. If I was having difficulty ensuring that students did the required readings prior to class and that harmed discussion, I would consider implementing a quiz to motivate students to properly prepare.
I take issue with exams that are more difficult than what students have seen before. I have had many exams where the problem was similar to things I had worked on, but with some twist. While I think these types of problems can be useful in promoting understanding rather than memorization, I do not feel they are appropriate for timed, high-stakes exams. Instead the twist and difficulties should be left for untimed, open book problem sets where students can wrestle with the material and work to learn it. Exams should test the basics and the conceptual understanding.
Here is an example of an exam I helped create. While I did not have complete control as this was not my course (I was the teaching assistant), this example does capture some of what I strive for.
One of the strengths of economics is that it uses equations and proofs to achieve a degree of rigor. Consequently, homework problems are typically technique-based. Students plug in numbers, go through the steps shown in class and reach “the answer”. They can go through these without doing any real thinking, seeing a connection to the real world or even seeing a connection to other parts of the course (link to example problem set). At times that strength of economics, the rigor, can impede for some students the formation of those critical conceptual connections.
This semester for intermediate microeconomics, I carefully designed an involved problem set on Consumer Surplus & Taxes that included connections both to previous ideas covered in the course and the real life decisions of investors. When I reviewed this problem during section, the students’ level of engagement surprised even me. Not only were they asking probing questions about the material and its relation to the world during class, but several students stayed so long after that I had to send them out in order to start my next section. In my second section I reached the end time and wrapped class up. However not one person moved from their seat. Instead all fifteen students stayed for at least five more minutes and kept asking probing questions to see more of the picture that I had helped to open up to them.
I do not currently have any video clip examples from my teaching, but I hope to add some in the coming year.
I hope to add more observer reports to share in the coming year.
In the fall of 2015 I ran a workshop through Cornell’s Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) on how to deal with challenging classroom situations. Professor David Way from the Center for Teaching excellence observed this workshop and provided feedback.
I have consistently received positive feedback on my teaching. I have experience serving as a TA for four different courses, leading workshops on teaching methods, and designing and instructing my own first-year writing seminar.
Below are summaries of my course evaluations, and selected student comments. Complete evaluation available upon request. A pdf version is available here.
Course Evaluations – Instructor of Record
First-Year Writing Seminar on The US Healthcare System – Fall 2016
- Mid-Semster Evaluation (14/17 students)
- I would rate the overall instruction as excellent: 100% agree (50% strongly)
- I would recommend this course to a friend: 100% agree (50% strongly)
- The instructor of this course cares about his/her students: 100% agree (53% strongly)
- The instructor of this course is enthusiastic about teaching the material: 100% agree (71% strongly)
- The instructor of this course encourages students to think by asking good questions: 100% agree (57% strongly)
- End of Semster Evaluation (16/17 students)
- the teacher was well-prepared: 94% agree (38% strongly, 50% very strongly)
- the teacher directed discussions well: 94% agree (25% strongly, 56% very strongly)
- I felt intellectually stimulated: 100% agree (44% strongly, 38% very strongly)
- I became a more skillful writer: 100% agree (50% strongly, 31% very strongly)
- I became a more confident writer: 94% agree (38% strongly, 38% very strongly)
- What are your overall impressions of the course?
- I thought this course was a great way to learn about a new topic while constantly being engaged in discussion. The instructor was always well prepared.
- It was very engaging and the instructor was dedicated.
- I enjoyed the course and thought the essay topics were chosen well. Discussions were involved and productive.
- The course was well planned.
- Generally, I enjoyed the course because it allowed me to gain a much better understanding of the US Healthcare system.
- Overall I liked the course a lot. I thought the subject matter was very interesting and well presented, and the writing assignments were engaging and relevant.
- It was stimulating and challenging and delivered on its course description.
- The course was a good balance between learning about healthcare and learning different writing skills.
- Do you believe your writing has improved?
- Were written comments on papers helpful?
Course Evaluations – Teaching Assistant
Applied Econometrics – Spring 2017 (Mid-semester Evaluation)
- The TA deserves an overall rating of (1 very poor – 5 excellent): 4.81
- 42 students enrolled (29 responses)
- Sample quotes:
- “Awesome TA. So well prepared and enthusiastic. I have no complaints”
- “Dan is very good at connecting the subject matter to real life examples, which is very helpful.”
- “Very knowledgeable of the course material and the concepts”
- “Very helpful and clear”
- “The TA is fully respectful and clear…”
- “Thumbs up”
- “I switched sections because I find you teach more effectively”
Intermediate Microeconomics – Spring 2016
- The TA deserves an overall rating of (1 very poor – 5 excellent): 4.76
- 38 students enrolled (21 responses)
- Sample quotes:
- “The TA sections were the best part of the class and honestly taught me more than the lectures. Great TA, very enthusiastic and friendly”
- “Daniel is great at explaining concepts and involves all students”
- “Dan utilized his time effectively to make each part of the section worthwhile, I really can’t say that there was any not-valued part of the sections.”
- “Dan’s explanation of the material was incredibly good. He was more helpful in section once a week than the professor was in three lectures per week.”
- “Dan’s a fantastic TA who is capable of effectively explaining the key concepts of the course and creating problems which test one’s knowledge of the material thoroughly. Definitely one of the better Econ TAs that I have had.”
- “Daniel is an amazing TA, very understanding and has great teaching skills. Something this evaluation doesnt ask but it is worth mentioning is that he is very approachable and looks out for his students, making sure they are doing well in the class and if they are ok in matters outside of academics. As someone who has struggled with personal circumstances, people like him are very helpful in order to perform well at Cornell after things dont go as planned”
- “The TA basically taught the course himself, in my opinion.”
Intermediate Microeconomics – Fall 2015
- The TA deserves an overall rating of (1 very poor – 5 excellent): 4.75
- 53 students enrolled (13 responses)
- Sample quotes (some from emails):
- “This section really helped. Dan Ludwinski is by far the best TA I had in Cornell.”
- “Literally the only reason I’m able to do even remotely okay in this course, the discussion section taught me more than the lecture did, and when coupled with the readings and homework assignments”
- “Dan was helpful and without his discussion sections I would not have learned anything.
- “Much more learning occurred in the section that the lecture. Most valuable aspect of the course!”
- “Dan, without question, made the class”
- “Very good TA. Flexible with his time, always willing to stay late after section to help people with what they didn’t understand and held useful review before each exam”
From unsolicited emails:
- “I REALLY thank you for how you helped us out this semester. You were one of the most productive TAs I have ever had and very informative… Your problem sets made me understand the concepts when I was not getting it and you explained it very well.. I think the best i can say , and it is not a lie, is that you will be a great professor and I will be jealous of those kids who will take your class.”
- “During this semester, I have benefited from your instruction and passion for Economics. I want to express my sincere gratitude for your help.”
- “Thank you so much for your patience I couldn’t have asked for a better TA.”
- “Thanks again for an awesome semester. I thoroughly enjoyed the course material and that was in a large part due to you. You’ll be an awesome professor in the near future!”
- “I would like to say a big thank you to you for being great educator this whole semester!”
Intermediate Macroeconomics – Spring 2015
- The TA deserves an overall rating of (1 very poor -5 excellent): 4.25
- 74 students enrolled (32 responses)
- Sample quotes:
- Very likely the best and most effective TA I’ve had at Cornell, certainly in my economics classes
- “Daniel did a great job clearly explaining most of the concepts within the textbook that were difficult to grasp previously”
- “The TA really had his hands full with this class. Students did not get much from lecture so the TA had to teach the brunt of the material. With that said, he did a splendid job… [E]very section, I came out knowing more than coming in.
Introductory Macroeconomics – Spring 2012
- The TA deserves an overall rating of (1 very poor -5 excellent): 4.17
- 62 students enrolled (27 responses)
- Sample quotes:
- “Very helpful and Dan is a great TA- the best one I have had at Cornell thus far.”
- “[Dan’s] worksheets [were the most valuable part of section] – they force you to actually apply the material instead of just watching the TA/professor do the problems”
- “The TA was able to explain things clearly and break down the points that were mentioned in class. The TA was a lot easier to understand as he didnt use the brain dead teaching device known as PowerPoint every single lecture like the professor did.”
- “Good TA, his office hours were useful, productive, and engaging. It is so important to have a TA whom not only knows the material but is social and can communicate effectively”
- “Sections are very helpful in understanding and applying the course material, so I think it is important that the TAs are good teachers.”
Introductory Microeconomics – Fall 2011
- The TA deserves an overall rating of (1 very poor -5 excellent): 4.47
- 92 students enrolled (44 responses)
- Sample quotes:
- “My second TA, Dan was absolutely wonderful. A great teacher who used examples and practice exam problems to convey the Professor’s lectures each week.”
- “He did an excellent job of taking the subject matter and making it understandable, both vocally and through practice problems.”
- “Dan did a great job covering the material taught in lecture. He was clear, organized and very attentive to questions. Dan was very prepared for class and was an enthusiastic TA. He taught me a lot.”
- “great TA; will make a great professor one day”
- “Nice TA! Really has a good understanding of economics”
- “The most valued part of the section was that my TA choose topics that were covered weekly in the lectures to explain. He helped to break the concepts through examples, which helped me a lot to be able to understand what I needed to know.”
- “Dan did a great job. Many people not in my section came just to learn from Dan because he knows what he is talking about and he does a great job explaining everything especially in office hours.”
- “I think the TA did a better job teaching the course then the professor, he was very competent in the subject matter, and i couldve all but stopped attending lecture, and still have the same understanding of the subject meeting once a week in section.”
Effectively Dealing with Challenging Classroom Situations (CTE Workshop)
- I would attend this workshop again (1 strongly disagree – 5 strongly agree): 4.3
- This workshop was valuable (1 strongly disagree – 5 strongly agree): 4.5
- 10 participants (10 responses)
- Sample feedback:
- “Great Delivery!”
- “One of the many dynamic classes I’ve been to – good job! I appreciated that you weren’t afraid to voice your own opinion in response to some of our opinions.”
Holding Effective Office Hours (CTE Conference Workshop)
Electronic Portfolios as a Tool to Enhance Learning and Assessment (CTE Workshop)