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.
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.
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