GTA Training

Graduate Teaching
Assistant Training
Steve Rooney and Stuart Johnson
Student Development
Who are we?
• Facilitating group learning
• Introduction to (some!) learning and teaching theory
• Putting theory into practice
• Q and A
Learning names
• How can we learn
students names?
• How can we teach if we
don’t know who our
students are?
Facilitating group learning
• Facilitating group learning
• Introduction to learning and teaching theory
• Putting theory into practice
• Q and A
“…the corporal and
Colonel Korn both
agreed that it was
neither possible nor
necessary to educate
people who never
questioned anything.”
Introduction to teaching approaches
• There are different approaches to teaching and learning
• There is a body of theoretical discussion and academic
research that informs how we think about teaching and
• Thinking about educational theory can help us to
improve the way in which we teach
Reflecting on learning
Task one
• In pairs, list the factors that impact on the activity of
Some pointers from psychological research
• How do students learn?
• Psychological research is concerned with the individuality of
cognition: knowing, understanding, remembering and problem
• What factors impact on the activity of learning?
– human behaviour
– motivation
– achievement
– personality
– self-esteem
Key theories influencing pedagogy
• Social constructivist theory
• Information processing theory
• Theories relating to learning styles and strategies
Task 2: Theory and Practice
Working in three groups, read through the main points of
the theory you have been given. As a group discuss and
prepare a presentation (max. 10 minutes) to give to the rest
of the group in which you:
• teach the main points of the theory;
• explain the implications of it for pedagogical practice;
• devise one or more activity/activities that would be
appropriate for this theory of learning – you can try these
out if you wish.
Ausubel, D.P. (1968) Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View, New York:
Holt, Rinehart and Winston
Bruner, J. (1983) Child’s Talk: Learning to Use Language, Oxford: Oxford
University Press
Gagné, R.M. (1977) The Conditions of Learning, New York: Holt
Kolb, D.A. (1976, 1985) The Learning Style Inventory: Technical Manual,
Boston Mass.: McBer and Co.
McCarthy, B. (1987) The 4MAT System, Barrington, Ill.: Excel
Riding, R.J. & Rayner, S. (1998) Learning Styles and Strategies, London:
David Fulton
Stones, E. (1992) Quality Teaching: A Sample of Cases, London: Routledge
Vygotsky, L.S. (1962) Thought and Language, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT
Vygotsky, L.S. (1978) Mind in Society: The Development of Higher
Psychological Processes, London: Harvard University Press
• Facilitating group learning
• Introduction to learning and teaching theory
• Putting theory into practice
• Q and A
Getting students to talk
If I look at
my shoes he
won’t pick
Why won’t
she just tell
us the
I hate
speaking in
front of other
I haven’t got
anything to
Why do students talk?
• Some students are more inclined to speak up
• Some groups bond well or are less intimidating
• However, what you do as a tutor/facilitator makes a lot of
difference to whether students speak
Techniques to get them talking
Develop ideas
Understand task
Input new but
related task
Whole class feedback
Tutor summary
Get talking
Check understanding
Other techniques
• Rounds
• Case studies
• Role play
• Changing the rules
Factors influencing student motivation
During a term what factors might affect the performance of
your group?
Week 1
Week 5
Week 10
Responding to external factors
• Be aware of the stresses and strains that are motivating
and impacting on your students.
• Respond to them where appropriate, e.g.
– Reduce reading where there are more thing competing for
student time.
– Explicitly address assessments in class.
• Report them to module convenor where you think that
there is a more fundamental problem.
Case studies
Lesson planning
Some questions to ask:
• What are my learning outcomes for the coming session?
• Is it appropriate to design a highly structured session or is
greater flexibility required?
• How much time do I have?
• What resources will I need?
• What space will I be working in?
• Where does my session fit into the programme?
• Do I need to stipulate what needs to be done in my absence?
Learning outcomes
• One definition of education is “an observable change in
• So learning outcomes describe what a student will be able to
do (what you can observe) at the end of the session/course
• Usually learning outcomes will describe one of the following
– knowledge and understanding
– intellectual skills
– practical skills
– key/transferable skills
Learning outcomes
Student preparation
Students will have:
• read chapter Fine Art and the Cold War
• discussed the topic
Introduction: overview of seminar
• articulated key
differences between
fine art traditions in the
East and West
0-5 • Energiser: best paintings - divide group into
East and West
10-15 • Set question – thinking time
15-20 • Discuss answers in pairs
20-30 • Groups of 4 to come up with best 3
30-40 • Feedback
40-50 • Mini lecture – schools of thought
50-55 • Rounds – response to lecture
Next week…
55-60 • Prepare group presentations
• gained experience in
working in groups
• encountered the main
schools of thought and
made an initial
response to them
More scenarios
I’m confident I
would know
how to deal
with this
I have some
idea about
how I would
deal with this
I’m not sure I
would know
what to do
about this
Aaaagh! I
would panic if
with this!
Withdrawn student
• Towards the end of the semester, you notice that a
student who had always contributed to discussion has
gradually become withdrawn and is failing to complete
coursework. During the first term her marks were
consistently good, work had always been handed in on
time and she had prepared for each small group session.
There is now a noticeable deterioration in the standard of
her work.
Not sure
Non-native speaker
• Xu is a non-native speaker within your tutorial group.
She takes notes attentively at every class but rarely
speaks. When she does speak her speech is heavily
accented but comprehensible. When asked direct
questions she often misinterprets what she has been
asked or asks you or other students to repeat what you
have said. On occasion her misunderstandings have
provoked laughter from native speaking students.
Not sure
• Bob, one of the men in your first year tutorial class, is a model
student in many ways. He seems particularly highly
motivated. He is quiet in class but clearly prepares well and
his first essay is excellent. He is often the first to arrive at a
session and the last to leave. He has questions he wants you
to answer at the end of most sessions.
• Recently, he has taken to knocking on your door once or twice
a week, either to ask a question about what is required in
class, or to discuss the book, play or poem being studied. He
invites you to coffee to discuss academic issues and
to Some
continue debate on the course areas that he considers
Not sure
• You have a student in one of your seminar groups who
has to give a presentation in a future session. The
student tells you that s/he just cannot do it and is filled
with panic at the very idea.
Not sure
• You have a student in one of your seminar groups who
discloses to you in confidence that they have dyslexia
and dyspraxia. The student explains that this is the
reason why she/he has been unable to prepare properly
for the seminar.
Not sure
• You have to fail a piece of work on the grounds of
plagiarism. This student did not show you any drafts of
the essay and you suspect that her other two
assignments for other subjects (due in the same week)
may also be heavily plagiarised. All students have
received notification of the University guidelines
concerning plagiarism in the Departmental handbook
and induction sessions.
• It is four weeks into the first term and a first year student
knocks on your door and asks if it is alright to talk to you.
You invite her in and she tells you, through her sobs, that
she is very homesick and is thinking of changing
university of leaving university altogether.
Not sure
• Facilitating group learning
• Introduction to learning and teaching theory
• Putting theory into practice
• Q and A

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