What GTAs need to know to prepare them for success at S&T. Written by Irina Ivliveya, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Russian.
Most departments expect their GTAs to perform a variety of duties, including but not limited to:
Every department has different requirements, so the bottom line is to check with your department on policies, procedures, verify individual responsibilities and define expectations, reporting schedule, etc.
There are several things all students expect:
Analyze each problem from the following standpoint:
NOTE: Explaining the material right the first time will save you and your students time and headache!
Know your material. Admit when you are wrong or don’t know
“No, that’s wrong!” is not the right answer!
Use the responses that support a student’s willingness to speak while gently correcting the mistake. Memorize them!
The situations will occur in which the GTA will not
understand what a student is saying. Thus, it is necessary to ask the
student for clarification. An effective way to check one's understanding of
what was said or meant is to restate the comment or question and ask the
student if this is what s/he meant.
Some common phrases in checking one's understanding of what
has been said or asked are:
GTAs need to check whether or not their responses to
students' questions have been understood correctly. There are many ways to do
this. The most effective method is to have students apply the information they
gained from the explanation.
Miscommunication also occurs when students phrase their
questions poorly or in an ambiguous manner. The GTA must help the student state
the question clearly or check with the student in order to be sure the question
has been correctly understood.
There is a relationship between student learning styles and
the subjects they choose to study. Atomistic learners tend to be
attracted to departments in which knowledge is hierarchically structured; they
spend a great deal of time on rote memorization of facts and may find studying
tedious and unrewarding. Students who favor the global approach are
often found in departments in which knowledge is more subject to personal
interpretation. They spend a long time studying, find the material more
interesting and feel that studying is gratifying. Thus, successful learning
depends on the student's ability to combine the best of both learning styles.
Knowing about these differences in approaches may help the
GTA to interpret students’ behavior. For example, when students ask extensive
questions about the exam it might be easy to assume that these students don't
want to study or are not interested in learning, and therefore want to be given
answers (i.e., "spoon-fed"). In reality, students may just be trying
to find out what is expected of them so they can concentrate their efforts on
the appropriate learning style necessary for success in each particular course
International GTAs: Learn about American culture and your students’ interest
When you have to tell the student an unpleasant truth:
NOTE: related issue – Sexual Harassment
Please check the Missouri S&T policies at http://affirmativeaction.mst.edu/
You may also consider:
If a student brings to your attention what he believes to be an injustice on
your part, take a critical look at your own behavior toward the student
Some examples of complaints you might hear:
Examples of requests for special consideration: