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Department of Civil, Structural and

Environmental Engineering

Student Name &


Alejandro Jiménez Rios 16335204
number

Student signature JRA

Module CE7R01-A-Y-201718: REFLECTIVE TEACHING ASSISTANTSHIP

Lecturer(s) Professor Niamh Harty

Assignment Title Assignment 1

Date 26/01/2018

I have read and I understand the plagiarism provisions in the General Regulations of
the University Calendar for the current year, found at: http://www.tcd.ie/calendar
I have also completed the Online Tutorial on avoiding plagiarism ‘Ready, Steady,
Write’, located at http://tcd-ie.libguides.com/plagiarism/ready-steady-write
I declare that the assignment being submitted represents my own work and has not
been taken from the work of others save where appropriately referenced in the body
of the assignment.

Signed ………………………JRA…………………… Date …………………26/01/2018…………………………


1. Introduction
This report presents a review of the material studied in the GTA module in which my personal
experience and the key concepts that caught my attention are described. The extra material
consulted, until assignment due date, as well as a list of future bibliography to be consulted in
the following weeks is listed too. After this a summary of the lab demonstration and the current
marking scheme used are presented. Based on the material studied and the current state of
development of the demonstration, a teaching plan is explained in which the problems expected
while teaching the lab, the proposals developed to address such problems, and the way in which
students will be surveyed described. Finally, a discussion of all the material presented in this
report and the conclusion derived are presented.

2. Review of the studied material


This is the first time that I get formal pedagogical training and most of the study material
provided in the GTA module was new for me. The concepts and definitions presented helped
me to better understand my role as a GTA, the learning process and the ways in which I can
contribute to improve the student’s learning experience. I felt very motivated while I was going
through the presentations and I also was able to identify and relate a couple of the examples
shown with my own teaching experiences.
While watching the presentations I found out that even if the concepts were new for
me I have already learnt and have been applying, in an informal way, some of the ideas. For
example in Block 2: Communications and Coping Strategies, where they talk about the different
resources available to carry on the different teaching sessions and how I, as a GTA, must make
sure that everything is prepared and ready before starting with the demonstration. This is
something that I always do by arriving to the lab 10 to 15 min before the demonstration starts
and by talking with the support technicians. On the other hand, the concept of the icebreakers
at the beginning of the session and their importance for the creation of a propitious
environment of learning is something that I have so far only experience as a student and that I
will definitely try to apply in my future demonstrations to improve the student’s learning
experience. Another concept learned from Block 2 is the one of asynchronous learning and its
pedagogy principles. From (Pelz, 2004): “… the learner is, for the most part, in charge of what
gets learned”. The creation of an online module will be discussed with the lecturer and subjected
to examination for its future implementation. Finally, the information provided regarding
feedback has been of outmost importance to me. I realized that I have been doing everything
wrong. No actual feedback has been given to students in past demonstrations. I think that by
applying the guidance provided and by giving students critical feedback focusing on their
behaviour (Jordan, 2018) their learning experience can be improved very significantly.

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In Block 3: How students learn the main learning theories were presented. They are
Behaviourism, Cognitivism and Constructivism. In the extend material content some pedagogy
concepts are defined by (Kwan, 2011):
1. Cognitive apprenticeship.
2. Vygotsky’s zone.
3. Bloom’s taxonomy.
4. Perry’s scheme.
5. Gardener’s multiple intelligences.
6. Motivation.

The concepts presented in Block 4: Session Planning were of paramount importance for me
to understand the preparation and structure of the lab demonstration. I like the idea of
organising teaching by stablishing aims and learning outcomes. This help the
lecturer/demonstration to organise the session and identify the required resources to achieve
such aims. Stablishing the learning outcomes is as well useful for the students. They will know
what they actually need to learn and how they may be evaluated. In this block the pedagogical
model of a flipped classroom was presented too. This model seems to be used by a growing
number of educational institutions. In a flipped classroom method more responsibility is given
to the students to achieve the learning outcomes, this is in agreement with the Pelz quotation
mentioned before and with a constructivism approach, and it gives them greater impetus to
experiment (EDUCASE, 2012). This concept will be as well discussed with the main lecturer and
I will try to implement it together with a more active learning approach to improve the learning
experience of the students.
The demonstration I presently facilitate does not have an online module available. The
creation of this technology enhanced learning tool will be proposed to the main lecturer for
discussion and in case of approval it can be implemented following the guidelines of Block 5:
Technology Enhanced Learning.
Assessment and feedback are two stages that can be greatly improved in my demonstration.
Until now, beside from the final mark, no feedback was provided to students and the grading
criteria has never been explicitly explained to them. Other kinds of assessment can as well be
implemented in this module such as self and peer assessment as stated in Block 6: Assessment
and feedback. Moreover, I learned how important feedback is as part of the learning process
and how to provide effective feedback tacking into account time, technology and institutional
policies (which I personally do not know yet, and which I will try to find and apply).
Finally, the concepts studied in the last block, Block 7: Reflecting on and Evaluating your
Teaching, will help me to create and complete a reflective diary. Furthermore, I will be able to
carry on a reflective evaluation of my personal performance and hopefully it would help me to
improve in future demonstrations. The concept of a Personal Teaching Philosophy Statement
(PTPS) was also introduced in this block, it was completely new for me. I would try to develop
my own PTPS based on the ideas presented in the study material and in the examples provided
in the extended material.

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3. Literature review
The extended material that has been read up until this point and that helped me to better
understand some of the concepts presented in the module and at the same time influenced the
proposed teaching plan are:
 A journal paper in which the principles of an effective online pedagogy are presented
(Pelz, 2004).
 A report from EDUCASE LEARNING INITIATIVE in which the main key ideas about
flipped classroom are explained (EDUCASE, 2012).
 Chapters I, IV, & XII of Kwan’s book about general concepts of teaching assistantship
(Kwan, 2011).

To improve the assessment and feedback provided to students of the demonstration I would
like to read:
 Chapter IX of Kwan’s book about grading, assessment and feedback concepts (Kwan,
2011).
 TCD Feedback Policies (CAPSL, 2018).

4. Lab summary
I demonstrate the 2E8B lab session which is part of the 2E8 Materials course. This lab has already
been subjected to improvement twice in the past, therefore, modify it and try to improve it
happens to be quite challenging. The topic is related to the Civil Engineering Component of the
class and is about the production and testing of fresh and hardened concrete. Students do this
lab session in second year. Each session lasts for 2 hours and I will facilitate 20 out of the 40
sessions of the Lab. There is only one task and different students perform it each week. Professor
Roger West is one of the lecturers in charge of the course. 2E8B lab sheet is reported in Appendix
1.

5. Marking
The current marking scheme used to grade the student’s reports is presented in Appendix 2.

6. Teaching plan
The main problems expected while facilitating the lab demonstration are:
 Lack of engagement of the students.
 Lack of proper feedback.
 Accidents.

Accidents are usually avoided thanks to the safety talk given at the beginning of each session
and to the use of proper safety equipment, namely: lab coats, gloves, mask to handle cement,
and goggles. The main proposals developed aim to tackle the other two expected problems:
 To talk about a concrete structure landmark at the introduction to get the attention of
the students.

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 To implement a self-assessment approach by asking to the students to attach a self-
assessment sheet with their reports and grade their own work.
 To implement a flipped-classroom approach by asking to the students to learn a piece
of material and during the demonstration ask them to support the demonstrator
explanation with their previous knowledge. This will hopefully foster student’s
engagement and make the learning experience more active.

At the end of each session students will be asked to complete a “One minute paper” survey
(see survey in Appendix 3). Once all surveys are collected the results will be analysed by the
means of “Word cloud” charts and further changes and improvements could be proposed based
on the analysis of such charts.
A reflective diary will be elaborated. It will include an anticipatory and a retrospective part
about each one of the demonstration sessions. In week 7, the analysis of this diary will help to
revise the teaching plan and to propose further improvements for the demonstration.

7. Discussion and conclusions


By getting acquainted with the main teaching concepts studied while covering the study material
provided in the online GTA module it was possible to identify some flaws in the demonstration
and proposals were stated in order to improve the student’s learning experience. Trying to mend
this demonstration has turned out to be a real challenge since it has already been modified twice
and it is currently very successful. Nevertheless, proposals have been developed and will be
applied with the aim of increasing student’s engagement in every session and of improving the
assessment and feedback provided. A qualitative analysis based on the reflective diary and the
survey answers will allow me to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposals and to implement
further changes in case it is deemed to be appropriate.

8. References

CAPSL. 2018. Student Feedback on Assessments [Online]. Trinity College Dublin. Available:
https://www.tcd.ie/CAPSL/TIC/guidelines/assessments/feedback.php [Accessed
22/01/2018 2018].
EDUCASE 2012. 7 things you should know about flipped classrooms. EDUCASE LEARNING
INITIATIVE.
JORDAN, A. 2018. GTA Draft, Graduate Teaching Assistant Content. Dublin, Ireland: Trinity
College Dublin.
KWAN, A. 2011. Getting started as a teaching assistant. Center for Excellence in Teaching &
Learning, University of Rochester.
PELZ, B. 2004. (My) Three principles of effective online pedagogy. Journal of Asynchronous
Learning Networks, 14, 103 - 116.

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9. Appendix 1: 2E8 Lab sheet

Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering


Trinity College Dublin

Senior Freshman Engineering


2E8 Laboratory Session: Production and Testing of Fresh and Hardened Concrete

1. Introduction:
The objective of this laboratory practical is to gain first-hand experience of the production and
testing of concrete in both its fresh and hardened states.
Concrete is a composite material consisting of aggregates of varying sizes held in place by a
cementitious binder. A viscous fluid when first produced, the cement in concrete reacts
chemically with water in the mix (that is, it hydrates) to harden and form a dense mass. Concrete
has been produced for upwards of 2000 years and is the most used man-made material. It is
employed extensively in the construction industry in structures such as dams, skyscrapers,
bridges, tunnels and roads.
2. Production and Testing of Fresh Concrete:
2.1. Materials
Table 1 outlines the quantity of each constituent material required to make a sample batch of
concrete designed to have a compressive strength of 35MPa at 28 days. The group will first
weigh out the correct amount of these ingredients into a number of containers. Your
demonstrator will then mix the constituents in a particular order in a concrete mixer to produce
a batch of fresh concrete.

Material: Mass Per 1m3: Mass Per Batch (0.01m3):


20mm aggregate 700kg 7.0kg
10mm aggregate 350kg 3.5kg
Fine aggregate (sand) 700kg 7.0kg
Cement (CEM II/A-L) 400kg 4.0kg
Water 210kg 2.1kg
Total 2360kg 23.6kg
Table 1: Concrete Mix Constituents
2.2. Slump and Density Testing
A so-called slump test (conducted in accordance with the European standard, IS EN 12350-2) is
performed on fresh concrete to assess the consistency of the batch. It can be used to establish
whether the correct amount of water was added to the mix, and how workable the concrete is.
Workability refers to the ease or difficulty with which a concrete flows and can fill a mould.

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Slump tests are used as a method of quality control when inspecting concrete delivered to a site
or project all over the world. An engineer typically specifies a desired slump class (a range of
values in which it must be) for a concrete mix and uses the slump test to infer whether the
concrete provided for a project is as specified and ordered from a ready-mixed concrete
supplier.
The test itself involves filling an Abram’s cone with fresh concrete in three equal layers. Each
layer is compacted by providing 25 tamps via a special steel bar. The cone sits on an
impermeable level base, and is lifted carefully from this base over a period of circa 10 seconds.
Upon removal of the cone, the concrete will slump under its own self-weight to a lesser or
greater degree depending on its consistence and reduce in height. This change in height
between the highest point of the slumped concrete and the top of the steel cone is recorded, to
the nearest 10mm, as the slump value. Also of importance is the type of slump observed. Figure
1 illustrates three possibilities – true, shear and collapsed slump. If either of the two latter occur,
the test is repeated and the concrete rejected if it occurs again.

Figure 1: Types of Slump

The concrete that you have produced was designed to have a slump of approximately 50mm.
State in your report what the slump value you recorded/calculated. Was the desired slump
value achieved? If not, comment on the possible reasons for any discrepancy.
You are also required to assess the fresh concrete density, as test conducted to the standard IS
EN 12350-3. Weigh a plastic cylinder (which has dimensions 150mm diameter and 300mm
depth), fill it with concrete in six layers, compacting each layer on the vibrating table, trowel it
off level with the top of the mould and then re-weigh it. Hence, calculate and report the fresh
density in units of kg/m3, comparing the density with that predicted by Table 1.
2.3 Test Cube Manufacture:
The concrete will be remixed upon completing the slump test. Each member of the group will
subsequently produce their own concrete cube from the concrete, in accordance with IS EN
12390-2.
Cubes are produced during concrete pours on site as a further method of quality control. They
are tested in a hardened state to determine the compressive strength of a batch, and can also
be used to determine the density of the mix.
In Ireland, 100mm cubes are the size and shape of specimen of choice. The cube mould is to be
filled in two equal height layers and tamped 25 times per layer using a special tamping rod. This
will compact the concrete and remove trapped air. The top of the cube should then be levelled
off and a smooth finish applied by using a steel float/trowel.

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2.4 Curing:
In order for concrete to reach its desired strength, it must be cured. Curing is the process
whereby the freshly poured concrete is protected from moisture loss and excessive fluctuations
in ambient temperature. Proper curing results in a more predictable, stronger, less permeable
concrete with less induced cracking. A standard concrete takes approximately 28 days to reach
90% of its projected compressive strength.
Your concrete cubes will be cured under wet Hessian cloth wrapped in polythene sheeting for
the first 24 hours. At this point the cubes will be sufficiently solid to remove them from the
plastic moulds. They will be stored under water in a dedicated curing tank for 6 more days at a
temperature of 20oC (+/- 2o). The normal 28 days curing period will not be used so that you can
be given your cube result in time to write up your report.
One of your cubes will be tested by a future group one week after your laboratory session. The
technical staff will produce and publish a spreadsheet illustrating the compressive strength of
each concrete cube. This will allow the class to observe the variability inherent in manufacturing
a man-made product such as concrete.
3. Testing of Hardened Concrete:
3.1 Compressive Strength
A number of tests can be carried out on hardened concrete to determine the inherent properties
of the material. In this part of the session, the group will observe a compression test performed
on a concrete cube made by a previous group. An axial load will be applied to the specimen by
way of a hydraulically-powered test rig. The compressive strength, , of the sample can be
determined by dividing the maximum load (P) applied at failure by the cross sectional area (A)
of the contact surface, thus:

𝑃
𝜎= (in N/mm2 or MPa)
𝐴
A data acquisition system has also been set up to record data from the test. Both the load applied
and the resultant axial deflection of the cube are recorded in real time. The test results, in the
form of an Excel file, will be uploaded to the link found on the on the final page of this hand-out.
With this data you will produce a plot of load versus deflection for the cube test.
You will subsequently be able to determine another important parameter for the concrete in
question – the elastic modulus, E, which is also known as Young’s modulus. Young’s modulus
defines the relationship between stress and strain in a material. The E value for the concrete
cube can be calculated by using the load and deflection data, as follows.
Stress is equal to force divided by area. Stress is also equal to strain multiplied by Young’s
modulus, according to Hooke’s Law.
𝑃
𝜎= = 𝐸. 𝜖
𝐴

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Strain is defined as the change in length divided by original length.
𝛿𝐿
𝜖=
𝐿
Therefore:
∆𝑃 𝐸. 𝛿𝐿
=
𝐴 𝐿
Rearranging:
∆𝑃. 𝐿
𝐸=
𝛿𝐿. 𝐴
where:
P = Load; A = cross sectional area; E = Young’s modulus; ε = strain; L = original length (i.e. 100mm); δL = change in
length

Eurocode 2 (IS EN1992-1), the pan-European design document for concrete, provides an
alternative method to determining Young’s modulus from a compression test.

E = 22[Fcm/10]0.3
where: E = Young’s modulus; Fcm = compressive strength of a cylinder (in MPa).

For the purpose of this lab session, we will assume that a concrete cylinder is 80% as strong as
a cube produced from the same mix (i.e Fcm (cylinder) = (0.8)(Fck (cube))).

Include your plot of load against deflection in your report. Calculate a value for Young’s
modulus in the linear elastic range of the stress-strain plot using the load and deflection data.
You should then compare and contrast the calculated value to the estimation provided by the
equation above, as found in Eurocode 2, commenting on the difference.

Note: The EC2 value will be in terms of GPa. The experimental value will be in terms of MPa. 1
GPa = 1000 MPa.

Fill in the data in a table as below, showing also any calculations:


Cube Strength (MPa) E from Stress vs Strain Plot E from EC2 Formula
(GPa) (GPa)

Table 2: Compression Test Results

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3.2 Isotropy and Homogeneity:
An ideal concrete cube is both isotropic and homogenous in nature: the elastic properties are
independent of the orientation in which the cube is tested, and also independent of the part of
the mix from which the cube was produced.
This is not the same for all materials. You will observe a demonstration of compression tests
carried out on two timber cubes. One of these cubes will be orientated in the direction of the
wood grain, and the other tested perpendicular to the grain. Compare and contrast the
differences in behaviour under load. You should also note any difference in ductility observed
between the timber and concrete specimens.
3.3 Non-Destructive Testing:
When representative cubes from a concrete mix are not available or there is doubt about its
strength in-situ, it is often possible to obtain cores from a structure. A diamond-tipped coring
drill can be used to cut into a concrete slab, for example, and retrieve a cylindrical sample. This
can then be used for a compression test. Sometimes, however, it is not feasible to obtain cores
from a structure. In such instances one may have to utilise non-destructive test methods. Two
techniques to examine concrete non-destructively will be demonstrated briefly to the group.

1. Cover meters are used to determine the amount of concrete cover around a steel
reinforcing bar. Cover is important as steel will corrode by oxidation in the presence of
water and air if too close to the surface.
2. An ultra-sound test, whereby the velocity of an ultrasonic wave passing through a
material is measured, can be used to estimate the density and elastic properties of the
material.

You will be shown a sample concrete slab which has a single reinforcing steel bar in it. Find the
steel using the covermeter, sketching its location and shape on the top surface of the slab using
a piece of chalk. Hence establish the variation in cover to the steel. Report on your findings
using a sketch.
There has also been a deliberate inclusion of a void in the slab. Again, locate this void by placing
the ultra sound transmitter and receiver on opposite sides of the slab and use chalk to identify
the extent of the void. Report on your findings using a sketch.
4. Display:
The demonstrator will exhibit some common materials used in the concrete industry. These will
include:
- Reinforcing steel
- Alternative reinforcing materials
- Numerous types of aggregates
- Cement replacements
- Admixtures
- Specialist concretes

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5. The Report:
You should report on all results and any observations that you make, as highlighted in bold italics
above. In addition, you should include notes on the following:
- The reason for your concrete cube strength and Young’s modulus value being different
to those reported by other groups
- The effectiveness of non-destructive tests for concrete
- The timber compressive strength results, as well as the behaviour of these specimens
under load
- Observations on brittle and ductile materials
- A description of any problems you may have encountered in the laboratory
- Any general comments

Please note that sketches, calculations and critical observations are essential parts of this report.
The submission date is typically two weeks after completion of the laboratory session. A physical
copy of the report must be submitted to the relevant box in the Museum Building, with a cover
sheet.
6. Links:
The results from the concrete cube compression test completed during your laboratory session
can be accessed via the links below. Please use the Excel file which corresponds your group
name. Each student’s individual cube strength and a histogram illustrating the frequency
distribution of all 2E8b cube results for the year are also available via these links.

https://goo.gl/BuqB1T

Course lecturer: Prof. Roger P. West rwest@tcd.ie


Technical Officer: Michael Grimes mgrimes@tcd.ie
Laboratory attendant: Mark Gilligan gilligma@tcd.ie
Demonstrators: Alejandro Jimenez Rios jimnezra@tcd.ie
Unnikrishnan Brijitha brijithu@tcd.ie
Madhavan

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10. Appendix 2: Marking scheme
The marking scheme is based in the learning outcomes of the demonstration and aims to
evaluate the acquired knowledge of the students. The scale goes from 0 to 10, being 10 the
maximum grade. The marks are distributed among the different activities of the lab as shown in
the table below:

Assignment content: Points assigned:


Slump value 1.0
Density 1.0
Cube strength 1.0
Experimental Young’s modulus 1.0
Theoretical Young’s modulus 1.0
Material’s behavior comparison 1.0
Non-destructive tests sketch 1.0
Reasons for variation in cube strength and Young’s modulus 0.5
Effectiveness of non-destructive tests 0.5
Timber strength 0.5
Observations on brittle and ductile materials 0.5
Description of problems in the lab 0.5
General comments 0.5
Total 10.0

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11. Appendix 3: One minute paper survey

Q1.- List at least 3 things that you learned during the demonstration:
*
*
*

Q2.- List at least 3 things that were not clear during the demonstration or that you would like to
get more information about:
*
*
*

Q3.- If you had to design and facilitate the demonstration, what would you do differently?
*

Link to the survey:


https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/L9FKLVT

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