Graduate students play an important role in supporting UF’s teaching mission. Research has shown that when graduate students teach there are benefits to both the graduate students and their students. But ensuring those graduate student instructors have the support and resources they need to be successful in the classroom is no small feat. When Dr. Barbara A. Zsembik, the department chair of Sociology and Criminology & Law, reached out to find ways to support graduate students teaching SYG 2000 we were excited to help.
SYG 2000, a Gen Ed course that typically sees enrollment of at least 700 students each semester, is taught predominately by graduate student instructors. To bring some level of standardization to the course and support graduate instructors with a variety of teaching experience, Dr. Corey McZeal, a lecturer in the department and the coordinator of graduate instructors teaching SYG2000, and I worked together to develop a flexible course template that provided new instructors with a course architecture, course schedule, suggested assignment prompts, and supplemental resources.
We also created an e-Learning shell dedicated to teaching resources that provided instructions for using the course template, technical guides for e-Learning (Canvas), and best practices in teaching (accessibility and accommodations, facilitating discussions and groupwork equitably, creating assessments and activities). Corey still met with all the new graduate instructors before the semester started, but they now also had resources to refer to whenever they needed them.
The course template and resources launched this fall for 13 graduate student instructors, right in time to support the pivot to remote teaching. Dr. McZeal says that new instructors especially appreciated having ready-made quiz banks and a wide variety of teaching resources customized to the course for them to explore.
Dr. McZeal says the process of developing these resources together also taught him a lot about instructional tools and the importance of creating clear course guidance for students, including detailed weekly to do lists.
Does your department have graduate student instructors? Don’t hesitate to reach out to CITT to see how we can help you support them as they deliver engaging courses and develop into great teachers.