The Role of Project Assistants in PBL

During this meeting, the community of practice discussed skills that future project assistants will need to be successful in classes with community engagement aspects. At Middlebury, project assistants may not be needed to help with grading, but rather facilitate reflection, manage team dynamics, and communicate logistically with community partners. In Profess Magri’s first year seminar, she said that her project assistant had been helpful in reigning in the scope of the class’s community project. Another skill that project based learning requires from assistants and students is the ability to edit and give honest feedback. Professors have found that this increases the final product of a student’s work. It is yet to be determined how project assistants could be formally trained, but eventually their work may resemble Oratory Now or the writing center’s tutors.

The group also discussed the need for transportation access in community engaged classes. While the CCE does have a roster of student drivers that could be used for an entire class trip, it is not yet at the capacity to take individual students off campus for the purpose of interviews and site visits. This issue also arises when planning for summer interns and J term interns to be able to visit the state capital and Burlington.

Finally, the group talked about the role that first year seminar  symposiums play in giving students a place to show their projects. Although the symposium was cancelled in fall semester due to COVID, it will continue to be an important part of the first year seminar program.

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