Problem: Where are the GSIs when you need them? Solution: ROG and iphone Application

Here at the University of Michigan, students always appreciate having their GSIs available to them to ask questions or receive important information pertaining to their course. However, the Office Hours that GSIs hold are often during the day, during inconvenient times for the students, or at inconvenient locations. Particularly preceding exams, increased Office Hours would be something that students would definitely take advantage of. Also, sometimes students have trouble understanding their GSI, or struggle to adapt to their particular teaching techniques.

A solution to this problem that edUMize created is called the ROG, or room of GSIs. The university is willing to designate the “Quiet Study Lounge” in the Student Union to GSI space only. The Union is right on campus, and is a convenient location for the majority of students. This lounge will have GSIs available for various subjects, as well as multiple GSIs for one subject. The GSIs will be able to be there from 7 am to 11pm, which gives students a chance to go at night while they are studying. Along with the ROG will come an iphone application that will allow students to find out which GSI is in the ROG, what subject they teach, and how long they will be there for. Through this application, a student can reserve up to 20 minutes of one-on-one time with the GSI of the subject of their choice. We think the ROG as well as the coinciding application solve the problem of inconvenient times, locations, and a lack of GSI understanding.

Please let us know your thoughts. Any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


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6 responses to “Problem: Where are the GSIs when you need them? Solution: ROG and iphone Application

  • angelidk

    I actually haven’t seen this be much of a problem based on the classes I’ve taken, mostly humanities and social science classes. Maybe this concept could be only applied to certain classes like economics, math, etc where lots of students take those classes and there are lots of GSIs who could take shifts for the “ROG.”

  • hollymj

    I think this is a really good start to something that appears to be a big issue on campus; however, I am not sure how reserving 20 minutes with a GSI is that much different from just emailing your GSI and setting up an individual meeting when both schedules permit. This way it is one-on-one and the GSI knows the relevant information to the class. My experience has been that GSIs are very available and willing to meet outside of class and this isn’t at any additional cost.

  • swgoan

    I think this topic is certainly one worth discussing, but I do have mixed feelings about your solution because I am currently an Instructional Aide (basically and undergraduate GSI) as well as a student at the University of Michigan. As a student, I would love to have almost unlimited access to my GSIs for my classes. I will agree that GSI office hours are often at inconvenient times, and to be honest I cannot make it to those office hours most of the time. However, as somebody who has the responsibility of holding office hours myself, the idea of the ROG is pretty intimidating. We have to remember that GSIs are still students at the University and have their own classes or research projects to attend to. I personally find it pretty time consuming to hold office hours for 2 hours a week right now, and I think it would be too unreasonable to ask a GSI to hold much more than that on a weekly basis. I do think it would be reasonable to have GSIs hold office hours at more convenient times for students, but to have GSIs hold office hours from 7am to 11 pm seems too unreasonable to me.

    One other problem that I can see with the ROG is that students typically prefer to be tutored by the GSI that actually teaches their specific discussion section because each GSI is responsible for the grades of the students in their section. For the most part, I think students would be most comfortable receiving advice from the GSIs that are responsible for their grades. With this in mind, if every student reserved a 20 minute time block with their own GSI, the GSI would have to hold almost 10 hours of office hours a week. Again, I think this is something that would be unfair to the GSIs.

    There is one thing that I have done in the past with my classes and fellow IAs that has worked pretty well. I was the IA for a BME 221 class that had about 80 students and 4 IAs. The four IAs each held one night of office hours from 7-9 pm on Mondays-Thursdays, which gave the students four nights to free up their schedule to attend office hours for this class. Before exams, we had students email us their questions so we could prepare thorough solutions at an exam review that we held for the students. I know that the personnel may not be available to do this for every class, but this is just a suggestion based on my past experience that worked pretty well.

    I definitely agree that inconvenient GSI office hours is a problem at the University of Michigan, but I’m not sure the ROG is a very feasible solution. I’m not saying that I have a better solution right now, but I do think this is an issue that is worth looking into.

  • blochhead123

    I think creating a room some what like the sweetland writing center in Angell Hall would be a great idea because it would give students the opportunity to visit a GSI and get their questions answered regarding homework problems and future tests. This way, students would be allowed to spend more time with their GSIs if necessary. I think students should have at least an hour alone with their GSI, for I think twenty minutes is too short of a time period. I think this is a good idea because the GSIs will be able to be there from 7 am to 11pm, which gives students a chance to go at night while they are studying.

    • davidkoz

      I understand that the ROG would certainly benefit Undergraduate students here at U of M but what you must realize is that GSIs are students as well. Whether GSIs are partaking in research or doing their dissertations, they would most likely be unwilling and unable to donate more of their time. Other than this problem of potential lack of willingness to participate, I think that the ROG would work very well for some classes but not for others.

      The reason that the ROG would not work for the majority of the social sciences is that psychology and political science courses and the like are individualized and are not as generic as math or economics courses, for instance. Thus, if the ROG were implemented, students who take math and economics courses and the like would get much more benefit than those who major in the social sciences since they would be more able to learn from GSIs that don’t teach their particular course.

      This may seem like a problem for your proposed solution but, in fact, this “problem” is a blessing in disguise for the ROG. Since Chris wants us to specify our proposals, you should consider another solution to office hours for those who major in the social sciences.

      Another suggestion for your proposal is to somehow incentivize GSI participation at the ROG. Without incentive, most GSIs wouldn’t care to participate in such a program.

      Overall, I think your proposal is good but could use a couple revisions like all the other proposals.

    • blochhead123

      Here’s an actual that Graduate student instructors walk out at University of Michigan

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