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Teaching Assistant


Small groups of students (3-5) serve as teaching assistants to the course instructor. The goal of the assignment is for students to extend and apply their knowledge of course concepts by creating instructional materials to support student understanding of a course topic. Each group is responsible for preparing instructional materials for one or more course topics during the semester. The materials may include: 1) multimedia materials such as 1-2 PPT slides, audio or videoes, graphics, 2) class exercise or activity, 3) student handout(s), 4) instructor notes, and 5) 1-3 test questions. The audiences are the instructor and students in the course. Of course, the instructor decides whether to incorporate the groups' material into the class.

Instructor Notes

The assignment could be used in any class, including large lecture sections. In planning the assignment the instructor will need to:

-      create a list of topics and decide how to assign groups, assign topics to groups, and whether to use the groups’ material in class

-      create guidelines for the instructional material package groups will be expected to produce.

The group’s materials should focus on developing student understanding of the topic. The instructor will need to help the groups define understanding goal(s) for their topic and identify activities and material that support understanding—and not simply rote learning. The Six Facets of Understanding model by Wiggins & McTighe (attached) is a useful framework to help students define understanding and design materials.

Try to provide examples of well designed teaching for understanding materials so that students have some concrete models of what they are trying to develop.

Recommended: Ask students to submit their material for your review and feedback. Give them an opportunity to revise the material before final submission. The advantage is that their work may be closer to classroom-ready.

Sample Assignment