Why should TAs work through a tutorial themselves?

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Episode 601: I've learned more Texas State University

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. Instructional assistants (such as TAs and LAs) have supposedly already mastered the material they are helping to teach, yet it is often highly beneficial for them to do the tutorial methodically themselves before they teach. Why should TAs and LAs work through a tutorial themselves?

September 21, 2019

Pedagogy Content
Physics Content
STEM-wide audiences

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

(0 MB)Specific Lesson Guide
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(1 MB)General Facilitator's Guide
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(395 MB)Video
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Sample Discussion Prompts

  1. What stands out to you in this episode? Talk to the person next to you about what you observed.
  2. Here are some things that teaching and learning assistants do to prepare to teach. Which of these things do you see happening in this episode? Mark which lines of the transcript you associate with these preparation tasks.
    (a) Checking their own answers (b) Tracing the logical development of ideas in the instructional materials (c) Predicting specific student responses (d) Predicting what students will find easy or challenging (e) Sharing past experiences teaching this material (f) Advising each other as to how to cannily observe student understanding
  3. Dustin says, “I’m going to write that down, and I’m probably going to get more out of that than any student would” (line 44). What is he planning to document? Why does he think he will benefit even more than the students would?
  4. What does this episode suggest about why teaching assistants should work through tutorials methodically themselves before they teach?

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