I am at the ABD point in my history of science academic endeavor having made that pleasing turn away from further coursework and into the realm of focused dissertation research and writing. Along the way I satisfied my language requirements (reading ability in Japanese and German) and passed my qualifying exams in these three fields:
- American Science (with Ronald Numbers)
- Modern Physical Science (with Richard Staley)
- History of Technology (with Eric Schatzberg)
Now, under the supervision of my dissertation committee – Ronald Numbers, Susan Lederer, and John Rudolph – I am pushing ahead with an enjoyable dissertation which looks at the place of science in nineteenth-century American Catholic higher education. This is the best part of the gig.
Learning to T.A.
For the Spring 2008 semester I worked as one of three teaching assistants for Professor Richard Staley and his History of Science 202 course. This was my first time as a TA and it proved a learning experience for both me and my students.
In addition to guidance from Professor Staley and the other course TA’s, I benefited from the L&S Teaching Assistants office and their TA training session. However much of what I learned about being a TA was done ‘on the job’.
I found that giving frequent T/F quizzes spurred more student effort in doing the assigned short readings, which made the discussion sections more productive. In regard to writing assignments, I saw that giving feedback to students based on the first page from an essay draft worked well in helping them formulate their main argument and what evidence to use in its support (and it was a good use of my limited availability).
Overall it was a very good experience and I would like to TA again if the opportunity arises.