Collaborative Learning Techniques in Action

Classes are in full swing, tutorials are up and running and we’re hearing reports of great experiences in the classrooms. Sandra Romain, a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology and the UTSC TA Trainer for the TATP, is having a great start to her tutorials. This is Sandra’s second year with the TATP (after a number of years working as a TA at UofT) and has been applying teaching techniques learned with her TATP team and TA training. “I have had the confidence to develop tutorial material based on collaborative teaching structures,” Sandra said. She’s had an inspiring response from her students.

From the start of her tutorials, Sandra put collaborative teaching techniques to work. In the first tutorial, she used Think-Pair-Share (an exercise that pairs off the students to discuss a topic then report back to the rest of the group) to look at research paradigms (a rather complex theoretical topic for 2nd year students). In the second tutorial, Sandra took this one step further by using the 3-Step Interview (where students work in groups of three – an interviewer, a responder and a recorder. Students change roles throughout the process as they work through concepts and questions). When she met with a bit of resistance with some students – someone grumbled about having to ‘pair up’ with another student – Sandra “jokingly told her I’d get back to her at the end of the activity.” When asked if the student could answer her own question about why they were doing these activities, the student answered, “Because I just finally understood what Interpretivism was!”

Not too surprisingly, Sandra has had a great response from her students, not only in their engagement but also attendance. Even though there is no grade attached to attendance, there is an 88% attendance rate in her tutorials. We’re always excited to hear inspiring stories like this – enthusiasm and engagement that not only brings students to class but inspires them to participate and learn. Please let us know if you have any stories to share – we’d love to hear them!

3-Step Interview       Step 2 of the 3-Step Interview