A post from Ali Mehlsak:
So a few weeks ago Cindy mentioned that I was headed to Rice University in Houston for a conference. I promised a blog entry, and finally, here it is!
What to say first about my trip…Well, I left a clear, crisp forty-degree Boston morning for the muggy eighty-degree afternoon of Texas. In retrospect, not too shabby. (But like any New England native I do prefer my heat without the humidity.) I was in the good company of other non-Texans though, so we all managed together. There were representatives at the conference from Brown, James Madison, Pitt, UCLA, Berkely and Oberlin. We were all there to discuss our student-taught course programs, and though my trip was short (just 36 hours!) it was fabulous to trade ideas and lessons with the other schools. (Here at the ExCollege, our student-taught programs include Explorations, Perspectives and Peer Teaching.)
Of the many things I discovered at Rice, one of the most interesting was the fact that the ExCollege is unique in allowing our students to grade their own full-credit courses without faculty or administrative input. Not only do we truly trust our students with the responsibility of teaching and grading, but they live up to our high expectations and often receive wonderful course evaluations.
Throughout the course of the day-long conference, I found that no two programs were exactly alike. Each school put its own unique spin on the simple process of undergraduates teaching undergraduates. However, what did remain constant across the board was the enthusiasm that each school exuded for the concept. Students teaching students is just plain awesome.
My advice? Don’t miss out on your chance to take part in one of these programs while at Tufts!