Lesson 4: Develop strategies

Lesson 4: Develop strategies

Read each scenario below and answer the question that follows. We have provided some ideas to get you started. Based on your context and your experience, however, there may be many more options! If you are unsure about how to proceed, connect with the instructor of record for their advice.

Scenario 3 – Fair grading practices

You are one of four TAs for a large enrollment class and have just finished grading the first assignment of the semester.  The instructor calls a meeting to discuss grading disparities within the team of TAs, expressing concern about the vast differences between the grades given by each TA. 

How could this grading disparity scenario have been prevented from happening?

Meet Instructor of Record and teaching assistant colleagues (prior to the start of the course, if possible) to discuss marking guidelines / rubrics.

Have one teaching assistant mark the same question for all exams.

  • Set consistent expectations by having all teaching assistants mark the same sample of papers.
  • Pick 3-5 random papers/exams from a class set and have each person grade them individually. Then come together (i.e., Set up a Zoom meeting) to compare your grades. These conversations are essential to help calibrate the grading expectations of all markers.
  • Create an email chain or online chat group consisting of your Instructor of Record and teaching assistant colleagues for ongoing communication among the team.
  • If you are unsure of how to grade an unusual assignment, share with Instructor of Record or double mark with another teaching assistant in your course.

Scenario 4 – Handling questions

It is your second class of the semester. A student raises their hand and asks you a question related to the topic of the day that you don’t know how to answer. You respond by posing the question back to the class and asking if anyone knows the answer. There is silence in the room as they stare back at you waiting expectantly for something to happen.  

What are your various options for handling this scenario? 

Repeat the question and ask students for their input.

If time permits, ask a student to look up the answer in real time. If you are online, the student can share the answer and/or a link in the chat feature.

Reply honestly that you are not sure, and indicate that you will revisit the question next class after both you and the students have had a chance to find an answer.

Additional resources

You may be asked to support learning by helping grade assignments and tests. Remember that feedback is essential to learning.

Creating meaningful online assessments poses distinct challenges for instructors accustomed to teaching in face-to-face contexts. It is possible to develop effective, rigorous online assessments but special attention needs to be given to alignment with learning outcomes, technological limitations and academic integrity. 

Lesson checklist

  • Reflect on your experiences as a student  
  • Consider these experiences from the perspective of a teaching assistant
  • Review the scenarios below and answer the questions that follow
Develop strategies

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