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The LEAD Center

Christine Pribbenow
LEAD Center
University of Wisconsin-Madison
552 Educational Sciences
1025 West Johnson Street
Madison, WI 53706
email: cmpribbenow@wisc.edu
(608) 263-4256

The LEAD Center advances the quality of teaching and learning by evaluating the effectiveness and impact of educational innovations, policies, and practices within higher education. Rigorous, theory-driven methods and interdisciplinary collaborations anchor their approach to evaluation, leading to the adaptation and dissemination of evidence-based strategies in service to student learning. Learn more: lead.wceruw.org

New Traditions: Teaching Assistant Interview Protocol

John Moore
Department of Chemistry
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1101 University Ave.
Madison WI 53706
email: jwmoore@chem.wisc.edu
(608) 262-5154

Introductions and presentation of the Informed Consent form.

Briefly review points from the Informed Consent. Check that the instructor is comfortable with the tape recorder. If not, just take notes.

Background (for TAs who did not complete a pre-survey)

  1. Take a few minutes and give me a brief history of yourself - a history that helps me to understand how you came to be a TA in this course.

  2. What, if any, preparation did you receive to be a TA in Chem 104? {Probe for formal and informal experiences}

  3. What were your initial expectations about what it would be like to teach in this course?

Goals (for TAs who did not complete a pre-survey)

  1. What are your goals for student learning in Chem 104?

  2. What are the professor's goals for student learning in Chem 104? How, if at all, do your goals differ from the professor's goals?

  3. When you started this course, how confident were you that it would be successful? {Probe for thoughts about groupwork.}

General Questions about 104 (for all TAs)

  1. Do you have separate goals for the different course components, such as discussion, lab, and workshops? If so, please describe?

  2. Could you describe what you do as a TA for Chem 104? How, if at all, does this differ from what you've done as a TA for other lower level chemistry courses?

  3. How is the course going, at this point?

  4. Do you feel that you are meeting your expectations/goals for yourself? Why, or why not? Are there things that have hindered your ability to do this?

  5. What have been the hardest things for these students to learn? Were there particular things you did that seemed to help? Were these new strategies for you?


  1. How would you characterize the labs for this course? How, if at all, are they different from other labs you know about?

  2. To what degree are the lab experiments coordinated and integrated with the lecture part of this course? How, if at all, does this affect students' learning?

  3. How is lab going at this point?

  4. What do you do in the lab? [Prompt: what role do you play?]

  5. How much do you feel students are learning in the labs? [Prompt: What kinds of things are they getting out of lab (conceptualization of principles, lab technique, etc.)?]

  6. In your opinion, how do the integrated lab reports affect student learning? {Probe for effects of other "unique" elements of lab.}

  7. How do students relate to each other and to you in the lab? Is there organized groupwork? How effectively do the students seem to work together in lab?
      Do the labs help the students to understand the course concepts?

Discussion sections

  1. Please describe your discussion sections. What you do in discussion section? What do students do?

  2. How is discussion section going at this point?
      What, if anything, do you feel students get out of discussion section? {Probe: How much do you feel students are learning in discussion?}


  1. Do you attend lecture? If so, can you describe what the lecturer is like and the regular features of the lectures?

  2. In your opinion, to what degree does attending the Chem 104 lecture help your students learn chemistry? Please explain.

  3. What is the role of the lecture in this course? What do students gain? Miss?

  4. How does the lecture shape your role as a TA for this course?


  1. Describe what happens at the weekly workshops? What are they like? What role do you play? How do the students interact?

  2. From your experience, what, if anything, do you feel students get out of attending?

  3. How many people usually attend?
    1. Is it usually the same group of students?
    2. Is there a particular type of student who tends to attend?
    3. Do you have any ideas on why the ones who don't attend, don't attend?

TA meetings

  1. Can you describe the TA meetings. What are they like? What is the purpose of the meetings?

  2. What, if anything, do you get out of them?

  3. Can you compare these meetings with TA meetings for other courses you have taught?

  4. Are student concerns/difficulty with the course discussed at these meetings? Are strategies for addressing these problems devised?

  5. Have you ever worked in the group that works on the problem sets for the workshops? If so, what effect, if any, has this had on your ability to facilitate the workshops (probe for examples?

  6. Have you ever worked in the group which develops the quiz questions? Tell me about this process, and what, if anything, you and the other TAs gain from it.

  7. Do you have any suggestions for changes to the TA meetings?

  8. Having come close to the end of the semester, what is your opinion on the adequacy of TA training for this course?
    1. Were there aspects for which you felt the TAs could have used more preparation?
    2. Aspects which were particularly difficult?
    3. Anything else that could have been done to make you as successful as possible?


  1. Are there particular problems that you or the students have experienced in this course that we have not already discussed?

  2. Do you have any other thoughts about the efficacy of particular teaching strategies that you or the course professor have been employing?

  3. We will be interviewing students soon. Do you have issues that you want discussed or specific questions you would like the students to discuss?

  4. Is there anything else you can tell us in order for us to understand Chem 104 better?

  5. Do you have any questions or comments that you would like to share with me?

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