Saturday, February 26, 2011

Another TA stint is complete

This quarter, I was a TA for an course called the Economics & Financing of Journalism. Unlike Careers, a first-year required core course for which I was TA last fall, and Innovator, another core course I'm TA-ing next quarter, this journalism class was an elective. It was offered in, I believe, 2007, '08 and '09, but unfortunately not last year, so in needing a TA, the professor knew that in choosing a second-year student, he'd be choosing someone who had never taken the course. I decided to volunteer because I was a journalist and did pricing-strategy work over the summer at the Associated Press. And I was going to take the class anyway; this way, I didn't have to do the assignments, and I got a small stipend (quite small, it turns out, since it was an elective with only 11 students).

Anyway, this stint is over. As a TA, I have to say I didn't feel like I did all that much because the professor handled the grading and the logistics of bringing in each week's guest speaker. I mostly tried to support him -- making dinner reservations for the students after class, answering his logistical questions about the school, and things like that. Ultimately he asked for my opinion on grades for all the assignments. He kindly told me our assessments were uncannily similar.

I'm glad I did this because I really enjoyed the class, and getting to know the professor and guests, and I got the benefit of the material without having to be responsible for the assignments, which were substantial. One was a case study of a media organization in transition, and the other was a suggestion for a new business model that could support quality news journalism. Those are both pretty big issues.

I think the class went well and that the students enjoyed it. Almost everyone participated a lot; I attribute that, actually, to the cherry-picking effect that would come with not having offered this course last year. Consequently, I think we got the most interested students from the Class of 2011 and the Class of 2012. I hope that, somehow, next year's group is as enthusiastic.

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