The Teaching Assistant Syllabus

  ©D.D.VonDras 2005  



Teaching is an opportunity to learn again, and to develop a deeper understanding about special topics and issues. Indeed, as Thomas H. Green (1998, p. 24, When the Well Runs Dry) suggests, "It is a striking fact that we often learn more from teaching than we do from studying.  The teacher, in attempting to communicate his knowledge and ideas to others, is himself or herself brought to a much greater clarity and depth of understanding about the matter in question." Thus the profession of teaching has great personal rewards as well as challenges. The syllabus I have created for the Teaching Assistant is personalized to the student's interests and abilities, and specific responsibilities and learning goals are to be listed in the student's Independent Study form application. I am always seeking new ways to structure the syllabus so as to afford the student an exceptional learning experience. Thus, below you will find information regarding expectations, meeting schedule, evaluation, resources.  The Teaching Assistant responsibilities and activities are often flexible, however, the following are required aspects of the syllabus:



Meeting schedule: 


Weekly/bi-weekly, usually following class.





(A) Successful completion of all responsibilities listed in syllabus; (B) Successful development of a readings portfolio comprised of teaching and learning articles; (C) Short paper on teaching philosophy; (D) Observation of teaching.



Information from other students who served as Teaching Assistants: 


Read about the special benefits, insights, and challenges experienced by other Teaching Assistants for Professor VonDras' classes:  Teaching Assistants Talk



Resources in the Professor's library:


Brookfield, S. D., & Preskill, S.  (1999).  Discussion as a way of teaching:  Tools and techniques for democratic classrooms.  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.


Davis, B. G.  (1993).  Tools for teaching.  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.


Eble, K. E.  (1988).  The craft of teaching (second edition).  Boston:  Jossey-Bass.


Gullette, M. M.  (Editor) (1984).  The art and craft of teaching.  Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press.


Hoover, K. H.  (1976).  The professional teacher's handbook (second edition).  Boston:  Allyn and Bacon.


McKeachie, W. J.  (1986).  Teaching Tips:  A guidebook for the beginning college teacher (eighth edition).  Lexington, MA:  Heath.


McKeachie, W. J.  (1999).  Teaching Tips:  Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers  (tenth edition).  Boston:  Houghton Mifflin.


Owen, S., Blount, P. H., & Moscow, H.  (1978).  Education psychology.  Boston:  Little Brown. 


Palmer, P. J.  (1998).  The courage to teach.  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.


Roth, J. K.  (Editor)  (1997).  Inspiring teaching.  Boston:  Anker.



Library resources:


Buskist, W. (2000). Common mistakes made by graduate teaching assistants and suggestions for correcting them. Teaching of Psychology, 27 (4), 280-282.


Davis, B. G. (1993). Preparing to teach the large lecture course. In Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


McCarthy-Tucker, S.  (2001). Developing student critical thinking skills through teaching psychology:  An interview with Cladio S. Hutz.  Teaching of Psychology, 28, 72-76.


Svinicki, M. (2001). The teaching assistantship: A preparation for multiple roles. In W. McKeachie, Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers (11 ed.). Lexington, MA: Health.


Tennant, M.  (2000).  Undisciplining psychology through pedagogy:  An autobiographical case study of working knowledge.  Studies in Continuing Education, 22, 45-56.


* The journal of teaching of psychology: Teaching of Psychology.


* A journal for college teachers:  The Teaching Professor (available in the Human Development Suite).



Other resources:


* Information about 21st Century learning initiatives:


* Information about course design (workshop notes of Professor Dee Fink, June 12-13, 2003):


* Information about college teaching at the Society for Teaching Psychology web-site:


* Teaching Scholar Links: 


Carnegie Foundation --


Lilly Foundation --


NEA Foundation --



*Article discussing self-agency in the psychology of learning:


*Essays on teaching about prejudice and discrimination:

VonDras, D. D. (2001).  Facilitating the awareness of prejudice and discrimination.  Essay archived at Creative Approaches to Teaching Award,  University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

VonDras, D. D. (2002).  Discovering new perspectives through improvisational drama with discussion.  Essay archived at Creative Approaches to Teaching Award,  University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

VonDras, D. D.  (2004).  Using an internet activity and classroom discussion to enhance studentsí diversity awareness and explore biases in social perceptions.  Essay archived at Creative Approaches to Teaching Award,  University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.