Graduate Teaching Assistant, mathematics
Years at OSU: 6
Bruno Barbosa has always loved math. When he was younger, he participated in math competitions that led to scholarships. And that, eventually, led him to Oregon State University in 2014.
“It all happened so organically that it was not really a choice,” Barbosa said of his pursuit of a math degree. “Mathematics unlocked some doors to me, I just opened them.”
Barbosa has been a graduate teaching assistant since his arrival at OSU. He has also been an instructor for various math courses, and a tutor at the Mathematics and Statistics Learning Center. He has won awards for his academic excellence as well.
For spring term, Barbosa was assigned to work with an Ecampus class, which was already online, so at first, the COVID-19 shift to remote teaching wasn’t that big of a deal. But he quickly ran into challenges when administering exams, which are normally done via proctoring services, since mathematics exams usually have to be done by hand. Instead, all exams had to move online.
Additionally, his work in the tutoring center suddenly shifted as well, and Barbosa was an active participant in creating an online version of the tutoring center to continue that important work. There are around 60 graduate and undergraduate tutors working in the MSLC, and they logged hundreds of hours, chat posts and Zoom sessions helping students with mathematics questions.
“After the first preparation obstacles, the ongoing challenge of this transition was definitely to retain students attention and commitment in a remote environment,” Barbosa said. “This makes it even more rewarding to see students returning every week, displaying the discipline to work hard even under the current conditions.”
But the online transition wasn’t the biggest challenge. Instead Barbosa found himself frequently addressing the stress and anxiety his students were feeling. He quickly learned that asking “How are you doing,” wasn’t well received because no one was really doing well. Instead he just focused on being supportive and flexible.
“Even so, humans are very adaptive and the situation was mostly well managed,” Barbosa said.
Because of the things he’s learned during the temporary move to remote learning, Barbosa has decided to improve his video producing and editing skills, because he’s recognizing that videos are a great way to promote learning, especially in this new remote environment.
Barbosa will graduate with his Ph.D from OSU this summer, but he said the lessons he’s learned under difficult circumstances will help him as he interviews for jobs after graduation.
“All institutions faced many challenges because of the recent events, so being prepared and having solutions for remote learning will be crucial moving forward.”
~ Theresa Hogue
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