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Case Study: Leading Discussions


This is Amy's second year as a TA. Last year she acted as a lab demonstrator, leading the students through prescribed work each week. This year she also leads some tutorials, in which the students are to have the opportunity to discuss the course material.

Amy had looked forward to this job. She is really interested in and knowledgeable about the course material. Actually, although she hadn't mentioned this to anyone, she had thought it would be fun to spend time each week working with students on topics that were of such interest to her. She hadn't put it quite so crassly as her friend Rob, who had said of his own similar appointment "A piece of cake, Amy!" But, still, it did seem to be a rather perfect job for her.

Wow, was she wrong! The course material is certainly intriguing and challenging. But the students in her tutorial group have absolutely no interest in discussing it or working through the problems it raises, it seems. Sometimes she thinks they are incapable of thinking. What is with these people, she finds herself asking on a regular basis. She poses a question, and they look at her blankly. All they seem to care about is their grades on the assignment. Aren't they interested in the concepts? Lately she finds herself making truly outrageous statements at the start of the class, merely to generate a reaction.

Amy's tutorial group is getting smaller and smaller each week. Her pride keeps her from viewing this as an advantage. She really must find some way of making these tutorials more successful, before word gets around in the department. But what to do?

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Last updated June 24, 1997
http://www.queensu.ca/idc/trainers/activ/cs4.html

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