Teaching as Coaching

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JANET CONRAD: So the course is three hours long each, and it meets twice a week. We also have one extra meeting on Friday that they can come in if they want to. And during that time, there are very few lectures.

We start out at the beginning with just a few lectures. There's lectures on how to give a talk. There's lectures on lab safety of course. There is a set, a few lectures at the beginning. But after that, the students immediately go out and they start working on their different experiments.

And what I do is I go around from group to group-- the lab groups are always two people. And so I go around from group to group and most of the time what I do is ask them questions. What are you doing is a good start. And then from there, they'll tell you where their problems are and so forth. And you can help them figure it out.

One of the things you're teaching them for example is how do you debug a system, which, by the way, is the same for debugging code as debugging hardware. The approaches that you take are exactly the same. So that's what I do actually when I'm in the lab itself and I'm coaching them along. If they don't look like they've actually tried, I encourage them to give it a try. If they come up with a question, we talk a lot about how it is that they might test the question that they thought of. And so that's the kind of thing that I do in the lab itself.

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