Thursday, April 23, 2015

FWS Research Assistant Highlights: Karl Diaz

My project is the development of curricula and syllabi for several courses in the Social Work department. I work on creating and developing these courses for a Blackboard format. My supervisors are Drs. Ihara and Tompkins of the Social Work department though I work with other members of the department on occasion. On a weekly basis, I assign readings from the texts provided in the syllabi, research media relevant to the topics discussed and add articles for the students to read on the Blackboard course. I find media such as video clips or websites that clarify the topics and give the students visual examples of the concepts. The articles I find are added to the assigned readings and also stored separately in a Zotero database. This allows easy access for other colleagues and keeps the articles organized. My supervisors also sometimes assign me smaller projects such as research of a topic related to social work in order to help them write papers and perform research in the field.

On several courses, I create multiple versions of the same course. For example, I may create SOCW 375 but also design one for a 6-week summer course, 15-week online course and 15-week in-class course. To accomplish this, I have used my previous experience with online and in-class courses and helpful input from my supervisors in order to design the course in a way that caters to the demands placed on the students. This allows me to make the course clear and accessible and give them the tools to succeed. This week, I became adept at using Zotero and organized the articles I found in folders appropriate to the courses. This allows me to keep the articles organized in each folder and to have an available list of articles to see how the course progresses. This project has given me valuable experience of what it is to work in a professional environment, the expectations placed on me when working in such an environment and how to communicate my needs to my supervisors in order to improve the quality of my work. I hope this job will help me when interacting with professionals in my field in the future and to meet reasonable expectations.