Exchange to West Virginia University, USA
Semester 2, 2017
Whilst at West Virginia University I took 4 different subjects in a 15 semester. The First was Called ‘Human nutrition and food 171’ (HN&F 171). It consisted of 2-hour and a half lectures a week in a big lecture hall with around 100 people. 200 would be there on exam day, funny that they can’t make it to the lectures with the information. Each lesson would consist of the same teacher giving in depth basics of how the human body digests food and the effects of malnutrition of any kind of nutrient. This also included learning about the ‘SAD’ Standard American Diet and how health problems in the USA are strongly related to poor American eating habits. Through the course there were 4 exams worth 25% of the total marks. These exams were like nothing we’ve seen before. Around 200 people cram into a lecture hall (very similar to the Gleeson auditorium at ACU Mount St Mary) and we complete an exam almost entirely multiple choice. Every few minutes the 1 supervisor in the room will tell people to keep their eyes on their own answer paper as it’s so easy to cheat. Nobody even checks your identification upon entry or submission of the exam. Additionally, the teacher gives the opportunity to earn bonus points to make up for incorrect answers in exams. These can be earned by completing charity work. I donated blood and worked at a charity shop. With these bonus points and my exam results I managed to be graded a B on an A to F marking scale. This is a great addition to my resume’ as a TAS teacher in NSW. Especially if school needs to employ me to teach food technology.
Another class I took was titled Wood adhesion and finishing 337 (WDSC 377). This consisted of two 1-hour theory lessons and a 90-minute practical lesson in a chemistry laboratory with a class of 4 students. Course content consisted of learning about a variety of adhesives, how they are applied to timber and how Timber can be finished for aesthetic and functional considerations. During week 8 we made a ‘field trip’ to Buckhannon West Virginia to look visit a timber board factory. This was not just relevant to the course. It was an insight into the working life in rural areas of the USA. The course assessment schedule consisted of 4 exams and a lab report. My final result was an A minus which is a great talking point in the likely event I have a teaching job interview for a position as a wood technology specific TAS teacher.
My first of two special education classes was titled ‘Special education in contemporary society’ SPED 304 it was a simple 3-hour lecture a week for the full 15 weeks. Additionally, each week would also feature and online multiple-choice quiz based on the textbook. These quizzes along with 2 major exams, 2 research assignment and a group presentation made up the marking criteria. Each week a new topic would be covered covering a variety of disabilities and special abilities. From this we were taught how we can cater for the educational needs of these students. One week featured a special guest speaker who brought a series of goggles to demonstrate how various vision impairments affect students and their learning. In the final week a service dog was brought into class to demonstrate the benefits of service animals in education. My final mark was an A+.
The second of two special educational classes was titled ‘Individualized educational programming’ This was also one 3-hour class a week for 15 weeks. The course covered the long process of writing an individualized education (IEP) plan in the USA and around the world. In short, I learned every step of the process including how to test a student’s present levels of performance, evaluating the performance and how to write an Individualized education plan to cater for a child’s specific needs. The assessments consisted of each step of the process being completed and marked by the teacher. In the final week we sat a mock (IEP) meeting. The course overall was incredibly well planned and performed to maximise student performance outcomes. I was fortunate enough to achieve an A for the subject. This along with my A+ in the other special education subject is an outstanding addition to any teacher resume’.