Honors Teaching Assistantships
In 2007, we developed a new series of courses for entering students called the First Year Inquiry Series. The pivotal course for the first year experience was in the area of Comparative Cultures taught by Professor Susan Setta, Chair of the Philosophy and Religion Department. She repeated the course again in the fall of 2008: Theology, Ethics and Practice in the World’s Religions. Seven upper-class students were Teaching Assistants in her course its first year. After wildly successful first and second years, we expanded our Teaching Assistantship opportunity to other First Year Inquiry courses. Each year, we have a number of students who assist faculty in these classes.
Being a TA offers an opportunity for undergraduate honors students to work with a professor and peers, be part of the First Year Honors Program team, share knowledge and skills with entering students, and build their resume for graduate school or employment.
Our Honors Teaching Assistants attend all class lectures, facilitate/lead discussion groups, assist students in meeting class assignments, and are available to students in their classes during weekly conference hours among other responsibilities.
Look for the announcements for each semester’s teaching assistant slots or make an appointment with one of the Honors Advisors to learn more about the opportunity.
Spring 2013 Honors Teaching Assistants
Casey Ivanauskas: Professor Nicholas Daniloff, Department of Journalism
I am a sophomore from Baltimore, Maryland in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. Currently, I am majoring in Political Science and International Affairs while pursuing minors in Arabic and Global Social Entrepreneurship.
During the spring semester, I will be Professor Daniloff’s TA for HONR1205: Seeking Peace in Times of Terror. After personally taking Professor Daniloff’s course, I have aided in improving and modifying the syllabus in order to incorporate current events like the Arab Spring. In addition to research, I will assist Professor Daniloff and our guest speakers in the classroom, and partake in the grading process. Working as an Honors TA grants me invaluable one-on-one contact with an experienced Professor I would not receive otherwise. I am now able to study foreign affairs, religion, and terrorism alongside a professional, who also acts as my personal mentor.
Wanyi Jin: Professor Allen Feinstein, Department of Music
I am a second year majoring in international business with a concentration in management information systems and a minor in Chinese. This semester, I am a TA for Professor Allen Feinstein in his honors inquiry course, HONR: 1208 Making a Musical: Analysis, Craft, and Creation. Professor Feinstein’s course is an opportunity for first years studying a variety of disciplines to engage with the components and construction of a successful musical theater production. After examining the history of musical theater as well as the creative strategies of masterful productions, students apply their knowledge to writing an original musical. The course culminates in a complete staged reading of the original musicals by auditioned actors, allowing students to oversee the creative process from start to finish.
As a TA, I am responsible for organizing student meetings, coordinating audition and rehearsal schedules, and other various administrative tasks. Because I do not come from a musical background, the main benefit of this position for me is the opportunity to learn about the world of musical theater alongside the students and to witness the impressive creative work produced within the class. Becoming the TA for this course has also reinforced my respect for courses that venture outside the format of lectures and discussions, along with the additional organizational effort they require from the instructor.
Jennifer Lehmann: Professor Serena Parekh, Department of Philosophy and Religion
I am currently in my last semester as a Philosophy and Religious Studies double major and Art minor and this is my second semester as a TA for Professor Parekh in HONR 1209: Human Rights: Ideas, Institutions, and Laws. This course is unique because it looks at Human Rights from three perspectives: Law, Philosophy, and Current Events. The foundation that the students in this class get from studying the current law and organizations dealing with human rights and the philosophical roots of the idea of human rights, give them a great vocabulary and background to use in studying Human Rights violations today. I learned a great deal as a TA for this class in 2012, and I was very excited to be asked back for this semester.
As a TA for Professor Parekh, I am responsible for grading quizzes, organizing review sessions, and helping students when they have questions or need help with their papers. This semester I also had the opportunity to give a lecture on my own on Kantian ethics. This was an amazing experience for me since I plan to go to graduate school to get my masters in teaching after I graduate.
Fall 2012 Honors Teaching Assistants
Gail Batutis & Allison Smith: Professor Dennis Shaugnessy, Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Gail: I am a Teacher’s Assistant for HONR 1205: Voices of Development: A Seminar in Global Social Enterprise. I am a second year International Affairs student with a minor in Global Social Entrepreneurship, mostly because of the influence this class had on me when I took it as a freshman. This past summer, I traveled with Northeastern’s Social Enterprise Institute to the Dominican Republic and Cuba in order to study microfinance.
As a TA, my responsibilities include not only running classroom technology and doing preliminary quiz corrections, but also helping the students through a process to invest 10,000 dollars in a poverty alleviation organization. With Allie Smith, the other TA in this class, I will help the students through a process of evaluating and reaching out to charities and social enterprises in order to decide how to make the greatest impact on poverty. When I took this class last year, it drastically changed how I saw the world of poverty alleviation, and I enjoy seeing this year’s students grow in much the same way.
Allison: I am a second year student pursuing a B.S. in Economics and Environmental Studies with a minor in Social Entrepreneurship. I’m currently a TA for Professor Shaughnessy’s class, HONR 1205: Voices of Development: A Seminar in Global Social Enterprise.
My duties as at TA involve developing a supplemental reading guide for students, reviewing quizzes, coordinating in-person and virtual speakers via Skype, and meeting with students to discuss class material. I am also helping to plan the class’ final $10,000 impact investment project pitch event, along with my co-TA, Gail, and the Social Enterprise Institute. This experience has taught me that a lot more goes into making a class a productive learning environment than just showing up and teaching. Having the opportunity to view the classroom from the other side has been an invaluable experience.
Sean Burns: Professor Lee Makowski, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
This fall, I had the opportunity to TA for the Honors course HONR 1206: New Strategies in the Fight Against Cancer. Working alongside Professor Makowski, the seminar offered students a chance to learn how cancer therapies are designed and why the process is so difficult. Catering to the students’ wide range of majors and backgrounds, the seminar led to many deep discussions beyond just the science of cancer. Students presented on topics ranging from the social and economic implications of cancer therapies to the illustration of the “War Against Cancer” in the media.
As a chemical engineering student, I spent two Co-ops at Millennium Pharmaceuticals performing medicinal chemistry on novel cancer therapies. My interest in oncology continued when I was awarded the Steamboat Scholarship to conduct preclinical research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. My duties as a TA allowed me to contribute my own experiences in cancer research to each lecture. I also helped to aid students as they authored research projects on cutting edge topics in treating cancer.
When the students presented their reports, I was absolutely blown away by the talent and interest of the class. The students demonstrated that not only could they understand the incredibly complicated biology of cancer, but they were also able to form their own opinions about the topics and what should be done next. The course truly demonstrated that this next generation of scientists, policy makers, and journalists has the ability to revolutionize the treatment of cancer.
Melanie Jessel: Professor Waleed Meleis, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
I am a 4th year Mechanical Engineering student. I currently TA for HONR 3302: The Limit’s of Scientific Knowledge: Chaos, Complexity, and Computability.
The principle of determinism, the belief that future behavior can be known and determined from an analysis of current conditions,has shaped contemporary scientific community. This course explores the the four important conceptual challenges that were discovered during the 20 century, which reduce the applicability of determinism: chaos, complexity, uncertainty, and noncomputability. It was my responsibility as a TA to hold office hours, answer homework questions, and grade the homework. I’ve learned the different nuances that go into grading and the desire that instructors have for students to succeed.
Esther Laaninen: Professor Michael Patrick MacDonald, Honors Program
I am an International Affairs and Human Services combined major and the teaching assistant for the author Michael Patrick MacDonald’s honors inquiries class called HONR 1205: The North of Ireland: Conflict, Reconciliation, and the Ongoing Quest for Peace with Justice. When I was a student in the fall 2011 semester class, I was riveted by the coursework, subject material, and discussions that enveloped the classroom experience. Therefore, I am exceptionally excited to return as a TA this year.
The course examines the concept of “peace with justice” in Northern Ireland by studying the country’s history, the sources and various forms violence which have caused much suffering to all its inhabitants, and the ongoing quest for peace. Although the majority of class material focuses on the issues and complexities within the North of Ireland conflict, there is an emphasis on the importance of drawing parallels between similar conflicts and issues in South Africa, Israel/Palestine, America, and Boston community itself.
As the teaching assistant for the class, I perform routine classroom tasks, serve as a liaison between the professor and the class, and lead the class when emergencies arise in the professor’s schedule and commute. The experience has helped me grow both professionally and academically. The study of social justice issues through the lens of the Northern Ireland conflict has continually kept me questioning the meaning of peace when solutions must address such a morass of complexities.
Jeffrey Newton: Professor Stephen Nathanson, Department of Philosophy and Religion
My name is Jeffrey Newton and I am a second year Philosophy major with minors in French, International Affairs, Business Administration, and Industrial Engineering.
I am currently an Honors Teaching Assistant for Professor Stephen Nathanson in his Honors Inquiry Series Course, HONR 1209: Government, Markets, and Economic Justice. This course discusses the philosophy behind different economic systems. An important aspect of this course is identifying what each system considers just and comparing these views. As the Teaching Assistant for this course, I am available to assist students with any questions that they may have and to assist Professor Nathanson with some administrative work. In addition, I gave a presentation on global aid. Having taken the course in my first year, I was able to see clearly how courses can teach the same material while changing to fit the needs of each class. This is important for understanding how course dynamics work and has raised my interest in teaching.
Katie Stember: Professor Waleed Meleis, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
I’m a 5th year Behavioral Neuroscience major and I’m currently one of the TA’s for the Honors Seminar called HONR 3302: Limits of Scientific Knowledge: Chaos, Complexity, and Computability.
My responsibilities include monitoring the discussion board which students post on weekly as well as grading and commenting on their weekly reading responses. I think one thing I learned from this course, which has really been reinforced during my experience as a TA, is that although the topics in this course seem only pertinent to students studying engineering and computer science, they are applicable to every major and discipline. I am so glad I challenged myself by taking this course and then becoming the TA for it because it has made me a more well rounded student.
Peyton Veytia: Professor Jeffrey Burds, Department of History
I am a third year student originally from Spartanburg, South Carolina. I am majoring in International Affairs with minors in History and Social Entrepreneurship.
I serve as the Teaching Assistant for Professor Jeffrey Burds’ HONR 1205: Spy Wars: History of Covert Operations in World War II. My primary duties include taking attendance, grading reading quizzes, and providing feedback on student presentations. Some things that I’ve learned from this experience include the importance of staying organized and how to remain objective when grading student assignments.