What should I do if the TAs don't know the right answer?

Please Sign In or Register* to view this video

*To protect students' privacy, you must register for a PhysPort account and prove you are an educator
Episode 204: Tough luck University of Colorado Boulder

Teaching assistants are expected to have greater content expertise than their students, but they too may find certain concepts counterintuitive. What should we do if TAs don't know the right answer?

July 3, 2018

Pedagogy Content
Not giving the answer, Coping with frustration
Physics Content
Newton's laws, Rotation
Instructor Interaction
STEM-wide audiences

Lesson Contents (4 MB)Student Handout
Transcript, discussion questions, and problem

(2 MB)Specific Lesson Guide
Facilitator's guide for this lesson

(1 MB)General Facilitator's Guide
Background and best practices

(141 MB)Video
Captioned video


Sample Discussion Prompts

  1. What did you notice in this episode? Talk to your neighbor about what you noticed.

  2. The TA supervisor (Linda) establishes that there is “definitely a student split” in answers to the pretest question, but she doesn’t say which answer is right. Why do you think she keeps her description neutral?

  3. Andrew asks Linda to tell them the answer, and Linda doesn’t do so. What does she do instead?

  4. Does Andrew seem uncomfortable to you? Why might he be uncomfortable?

  5. Does Linda seem uncomfortable to you? Why might she be uncomfortable?

  6. Do you think this interaction will have negative consequences?

  7. What does this episode suggest that we should do if the the TAs don’t know the right answer?

Collections featuring this lesson

Dissatisfied students6 LESSONS How to Run a Prep Session3 LESSONS