Teacher Training Programs- MIT & Columbia University

The TA Strategy Kit at MIT and Columbia University

MIT and the Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL) have partnered to produce an online learning environment to support novice teaching assistants. TASK, the TA Strategy Kit, is a web-based tool designed to help teaching assistants, new faculty, and novice instructors become better teachers.

TASK features short, annotated videos that model good teaching and effective interactions with students, allowing users to see concrete, practical techniques they can implement in the classroom immediately. Complementary text reinforces the points illustrated in the videos, discusses other effective strategies and tactics, and explores the theory and research that support the techniques suggested.

While access to this resource is restricted to members of the MIT and Columbia University communities, this approach is something that other institutions could consider for improving their teacher training in any field.


Syllabus for Teaching TAs How to Teach (Quarter version)

Any Fine Arts or Art History graduate student who wants to teach a class in the University of Cincinnati’s School of Art must successfully complete the “Graduate Teaching Workshop” course before receiving any teaching assignment. (This is true for TAs who assist a professor in the classroom, as well as for TAs who are assigned full responsibility for the teaching of a course.) This is the syllabus for that course.

Because UC is currently on the quarter system, this syllabus reflects a 10-week experience. When UC moves to semesters in the Fall of 2012, the syllabus will be revised to reflect a 14-week experience. In semesters, more time will be spent on pedagogical theory, guiding and evaluating group work, and how to effectively critique art work. I will post that updated syllabus in the Fall of 2012.

Teacher Training Programs- University of Cincinnati’s PFF Program


The Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program at the University of Cincinnati is one in which graduate students in terminal degree programs (i.e. PhD and MFA) can get training and mentoring, do student teaching, and gain a teaching certificate. This could serve as a model for other universities or colleges interested in improving training for future faculty, as well as improve the learning experience for their students while still TA’s.

Many individual programs at UC also offer courses in teaching in their individual areas of specialization.

PFF programs grew out of an initiative started by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Council of Graduate Schools. The PFF approach prepares graduate students for a “variety of responsibilities, not just research or teaching”. Currently, there are 45 doctoral degree-granting institutions and nearly 300 “partner” institutions in the US where PFF programs have been implemented. To learn more about PFF programs, go to the Preparing Future Faculty website.