I thought it might be useful to lay out some syllabus-like details about this course from the instructorís point of view. The course is self-paced, and if it is to succeed, there are certain critical parameters that need watching, located in slightly different places than those in the traditional lecture-and-exam mega.
As a TA in this course you never need to prepare lectures, quizzes, review sessions, etc for your section meeting. There are no essays to grade. There is no such thing as late work, so you never need to collect (or listen to) excuses from students. There is no such grade as "incomplete", nor is it possible to be absent from the final exam. The students who show up in your office hours are likely to have a noticeably different mind-set than those in a traditional course. I think you will find it a lot more fun to teach one-on-one in office hours than in the traditional section meeting. See the undergraduate syllabus for more details (it's the first few pages of the textbook).
At the graduate level this course is intended to serve as an easy and relatively low-stress introduction to teaching, primarily for first and second year graduate students in our program. It is designed to address what is often a major source of anxiety among people first learning how to teach: how to be confident about your judgment when you assign grades to student work. (That was a major source of anxiety for me, anyway.) Specifically: how to construct and write fair exams, and how to grade them fairly. During the course of the semester, we will meet at least six times (once per unit) to talk about tests and answers for the given unit. Each of you will write six sample tests with potential items for the given unit, and get feedback on them. I plan to use your items to construct the tests that will be used in the "Final Exam", whose writing will in effect be a collective effort; and those items will also be absorbed into the monster database of test items which provides the foundation for the self-paced structure of the course.
Grading of logic items is sufficiently straight-forward that by the end of the semester I think that you will be a lot more confident about your reliability as a grader; and many of the principles and skills you learn will carry over to grading other philosophy assignments.
I hope to make the monster database a resource that UConn Philosophers can use later in their teaching careers, should they get the unaccountable urge to teach intro logic. Consider this an invitation. Ticket price for such a use: contribution of some worthy items to it, while serving as a TA.
This is the one meeting that is not simply a test session. The two critical tasks are
After those two tasks are done, you can ask if anyone is ready to take a test on unit 1 (this will be after one day of classes!), and dismiss everyone else.
The transition into this is very important, since it will set people's habits for the rest of the semester. The main thing is to re-arrange seating. If you let people sit in clumps, right next to one another, you will then have to watch them like a hawk the rest of the semester. Sadly, some of the people sitting in clumps are doing so in order to try to cheat. It will get tiresome watching such clumps for 14 hours, as they take tests for the rest of the semester. The simple solution: have the students re-arrange seating, so that they sit only in every other row of desks, and there is always an empty row of desks between people taking tests. Just tell the class that that's how the tests will be done, at the very beginning, and everyone will comply. (It's very easy to establish rules at the very beginning, but hard if you don't do it from the very beginning.)
The other issue is how to manage handing out tests. The problem here is that tests within a given unit need to be randomly shuffled. We'll talk about this in our first meeting.
Revised June 2002
The Self-paced Logic Project homepage.
Austen Clark's homepage.
The Philosophy Department homepage.