How should teaching assistants prepare for a physics tutorial?

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Episode 202: Newton University of Colorado Boulder

Tutorials are hour-long sessions in which small groups of students work collaboratively on a series of questions designed to address a particularly difficult concept. TAs and LAs help create an environment in which students express their ideas, engage with each other’s reasoning, and get closer to a scientific understanding. How should TAs and LAs prepare to teach a particular tutorial?

July 2, 2018

Pedagogy Content
Physics Content
Newton's laws, Rotation
STEM-wide audiences

Lesson Contents (6 MB)Student Handout
Transcript, discussion questions, and problem

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

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

(139 MB)Video
Captioned video


Sample Discussion Prompts

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

  2. Andrew says more work is done on the spool than the block. Do you agree?

  3. Andrew says that Newton’s second law requires that the spool and the block cross the finish line at the same time. Do you agree?

  4. Andrew seems to have done this tutorial before (perhaps in a previous semester), because he says “This one stuck in my head real hard from last time” (line 1). What made it memorable for him?

  5. Brooklyn pulls a spool across the table. What might she be trying to accomplish?

  6. What are these TAs and LAs doing in this episode that is preparing them to teach this particular tutorial? Name at least three things.

  7. What does this episode suggest about how TAs and LAs should prepare for a tutorial, in general?

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