In the fall of 2012, I was a Teaching Assistant for Dr. Edward Balleisen’s “American Business History” course. I led my own group of 16 students during a 75-minute discussion section on Fridays. I was extremely fortunate that my students were willing to participate in a series of new teaching experiments which involved them sharing contemporary media clips found through American Public Media’s Marketplace, NPR’s Morning Report, The Economist, and The New York Times and connecting these headliners to the overarching trends we saw throughout American Business History (systems innovations, creative destruction, barriers to entry etc.) This activity was a great opportunity for students to take what they learned in lecture and apply these concepts to their own lives and the major events and business trends that were shaping American society last fall. For example, one of my students discovered a clip on NPR’s Morning Report, “‘Adapt:’ Failure as an Option On the Way to Success,” which discusses the tendency of successful Internet start ups to emerge from general failure in their market. This student led a discussion on the theme of “failure” in American business, drawing comparisons between 21st century Internet startups to the topic of that week’s class: the growth of urban department stores (in which failure was common in many business ventures). This student asked a series of thoughtful questions including: In comparing that time to this NPR report, do you think this idea of failing to succeed was as common or necessary as it is today? If not, what conditions make it easier to bounce back after a failure in developing an Internet startup rather than in the nineteenth century with the department stores? Through this discussion, students were able to grapple with complexities of historical context in shaping the outcomes in various scenarios of American business.
Students also had the opportunity to approach these “media moments” from a cultural prospective by leading group analysis of movie clips, music videos, and television commercials that contain in their imagery and wording themes which speak to American business history. For example, one of my students led an analysis of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin” and compared Dylan’s portrayal of the US government and American discontent in the 1960s to that of the Populist Movement in the late nineteenth century. Through this discussion, my students were able to juxtapose these seemingly distinct periods in American history to discover commonality in the nature of social and economic discontent across decades.
On November 16, 2012, my class participated in an experimental collaborative note taking project through Google Drive. Students had the opportunity to contribute to regular discussion section while also typing notes and commenting on each other’s work using the comments feature in Google Drive. This document is linked to the class website I designed for my Friday section. Via this website, students can also find all of the class media moments archived along with helpful links to website that can help students further develop their brainstorming, research, and writing skills. I added a page to our class website titled, “Interesting Connections” where I brought trending articles and relative news reports to my students’ attention. One of my teaching goals was to inspire students to make connections between overarching historical trends and the current issues and debates that were shaping American society and culture.
On November 30, 2012, my students and I embraced and tried out a new pedagogical experiment: Twitter in the classroom. During our regular class discussion, my students live-Tweeted the interesting comments and points that their classmates made using our common hash tag #ABHLabor. In addition, students had the opportunity to supplement our general class discussion with tweeted questions and interesting statistics/facts that pertained to both our oral and digital discussion. Some students also used their smart phones to upload images of the schematics they mapped out on the board during our small-group activities.
I wrote a more in-depth blog post about these two experiments on the HASTAC website: “Heeding the Call: Experimenting with Google Drive and Twitter in the Classroom”
As a participant in the Duke Graduate School Certificate in College Teaching Program, I have had the opportunity to develop an online teaching portfolio and build upon my education in pedagogical best practices. For example, I took advantage of the Duke Graduate School’s Teaching IDEAS Workshops, which brought graduate students from across the Sciences and Humanities together to think through the challenges that all teachers face. I’ve outlined the events that I was able to attend below:
- “Take Your Teaching Skills Anywhere: Identifying Transferable Skills for Alternative Careers,” November 12, 2012
- “The Art of Teaching: Using Acting Techniques in the Teaching/Learning Process,” November 5, 2012
- “PhD Laboratory in Digital Knowledge,” October 1, 2012“Future Directions of Teaching and Learning in Undergraduate Education,” September 17, 2012
- “Future Directions of Teaching and Learning in Undergraduate Education,” September 17, 2012
Prior to my work as a Teaching Assistant with Dr. Edward Balleisen, I was a Grading Assistant for Dr. Laura Edward’s course, “Women in US History,” and Dr. Barry Gaspar’s course, “Caribbean History.”