Thanks to all who attended our reception for CUT recipients, 5/4/12

On Friday, May 4th, the CTE’s Division of TA Resources (DTAR) held a reception to celebrate the awarding of certificates to 14 TAs who successfully completed our Certificate of University Teaching program in the spring. Hosting the celebration were the two people most directly responsible for this program, Aymara Boggiano and Dr. Tamara Fish, along with the CTE Director, Dave Mazella (DTAR’s Bruce Martin was unable to attend due to sickness). TA Supervisors Ruxandra Prodan (ECON) and Flavia Belpoliti (HSD) also attended.

The reception began with presentations of teaching portfolios by Lena Ogrokhina (ECON) and Maria Alvarez (HSD), where they each talked about the usefulness of compiling the portfolios.  Both agreed that the portfolios were a huge help in reflecting upon, and learning from, their own teaching experience, and in preparing for a competitive job market.

After the presentations, Ms. Boggiano and Dr. Fish presented certificates to the candidates [click on thumbnail to enlarge]:

At the conclusion of our ceremony, Ms. Boggiano announced that this would be her final semester with the CTE and DTAR, and that she would be moving on to a new post at the University of North Texas.  Drs. Mazella and Fish thanked Ms. Boggiano for her superb work establishing the DTAR and CUT programs, and wished her the best in the future.

Dr. Mazella also announced that Dr. Fish will take over supervision and coordination of the CUT program beginning this summer.  The CTE is currently searching for a full-time replacement for Ms. Boggiano, which will carry the job title of Associate Director.  Drs. Mazella and Fish will remain in contact with participating departments and supervisors until a replacement is found.

Our best wishes for all of you who have completed the CUT program.  We hope everyone has a happy and productive summer.

David Mazella,

Director, UH CTE


Thanks to all who attended our DTAR Workshop on Error Correction and Leading Discussion, 2/17/12

On last Friday, 2/17, the UH Division of TA Resources hosted a workshop on Error Correction and Leading discussion.  Ms. Aymara Boggiano led discussion with TAs from a number of departments, including English, History, Economics, Biology, and Hispanic Studies, among others.

Ms. Boggiano began the discussion by talking about the embarrassment of making errors as both teacher and student, and how that embarrassment sometimes led to panic rather than learning.  The biggest danger comes when students (or teachers) become afraid of asking for help.

To help make her point, she referenced this TED video from Kathryn Schulz, which is about a phenomenon she calls “error blindness,” the inability to recognize when we are mistaking mistakes:

Ms. Boggiano asked TAs at each table to talk first of all about the types of errors they encountered, either in writing or in discussion.  Responses included:

  • failure to follow instructions
  • failures of processing, or sequencing
  • lack of practice
  • failure to make transition from lower- to higher-order understanding of material
  • difficulties learning how to “think like an expert,” or taking on the vocabulary, concepts, practices of the discipline being taught

Ms. Boggiano then asked TAs at each table to name some of their favorite techniques and strategies to address these kinds of errors:

  • try to identify the small part of the process that students are getting wrong, to pinpoint what’s missing in their solutions
  • try to mix assignments between “process,” where students can be rewarded for practicing solutions without penalties, and “product,” where students can practice for high-stakes projects, like Engineering projects, that demand a consistently high performance across the board
  • provide students with self-checking or self-monitoring protocols or strategies, so that they can learn how to check for their own errors
  • ensure that students are using the appropriate, discipline-specific vocabulary introduced by reading assignments
  • recasting oral errors in restatement, so that other students can hear the correct formulation; this is best done with leading questions addressed to erring students, so that they can be the ones to restate their initial, incorrect formulation

Finally, Ms. Boggiano asked the group to consider how to target which errors to correct?  Do we correct all errors?  If not, what is the criterion to intervene?  TAs came up with the following suggestions:

  • lead students to reexamine their thinking by asking, “why?”  Often this work of explanation leads students to recognize their own errors; so request clarifications when it seems like student thinking is fuzzy
  • monitor small group discussion, and if necessary ask groups to rethink and redo a particular exercise; easier in groups than with individuals
  • in large or whole group discussion, be prepared as with small groups to elicit the correct formulation, lead students to correct themselves
  • remember the importance of trust throughout: students who trust their teacher will accept correction much more easily; for this reason, make it clear that you can accept correction when you make mistakes, as teachers inevitably do
  • there is an interesting overlap between practices of correction and those of classroom management, because they are both about how the teacher makes and enforces rules in order for learning to take place; your ability as a teacher to maintain fairness, consistency, and high expectations helps to create a positive learning environment that allows students to volunteer answers and receive both encouragement and correction whenever necessary.

The workshop broke up around 12:45.


TAs and TA Supervisors: Please attend our Error correction and Class Discussion Workshop this Friday, 2/17, 1-2:30pm.

Have you ever found yourself frustrated by the kinds of errors that your students make, either in class or in their written work, and wondered where you could even begin to respond?  Or have you ever come down hard on a student after he blurted out a mistake, then watched that student shut down and hide from you for the rest of the semester?

Correcting errors can be an inhibiting experience for the instructor–many of us are wary of offending young learners and remember negative experiences when professors handled our errors poorly. Yet correcting errors outside of formal assessments has the potential to become a great learning experience for students if it is handled well, in context, and with the ultimate objective of improving student learning.

Teaching students so that they learn how to self-correct builds self-efficacy, which is different from self-esteem. Self-esteem can be a false-indicator of performance mastery and can be easily manipulated. It does a disservice to students to praise their work without attending to their recurring and persistent errors.  But there is another way: help students understand their own patterns of errors and how to correct them, and they will acquire real confidence in their subject and develop true performance mastery.

In this workshop, you will discuss and learn how to best correct student errors — in class discussion — to strengthen their own critical learning strategies.

The workshop will take place Fri. Feb. 17th 1-2:30 pm in 306 MDA Library. A light lunch will be offered. To register go to:

This workshop will fulfill one workshop requirement of the Certificate of University Training.

See you this Friday.


Aymara Boggiano

Bruce Martin