Develop course materials
Successful seminars requires you to prepare appropriate and engaging questions as course material for students.
The aim of a seminar is to stimulate deep learning and help students develop relevant skills.
Below is a list of things to consider when developing course material for seminars. The pedagogical reflections overlap with the content of the learning assistant training program.
- Language matters. Keep questions and phrasings similar from week to week to avoid confusion and misunderstandings of terminology. Include students in conversation about key phrases and instructions commonly used in the course material.
- Include learning outcomes. Let students know how and why they should spend time with the specific questions or assignment, and help students see how the seminar supports their learning.
- Why or How? A question can shape both the conversations in the room and how students perspective the relationship between the content. For example, questions with Why? can lead students to assume causation where there is none, whereas questions with In which ways? open for discussion and multiple viewpoints.
- Process or product. How you phrase the questions influence how much weight students place on procedural and factual knowledge. Do you want the students to only get the right answer, or do you want them to learn the thinking processes that are typical and necessary in the field? Include students and learning assistants in your planning.
- Learning or control. What is the role of the assignments and submissions you give? Align learning outcomes and activities in seminar to make sure that the formative assessments contributes to student learning. Reconsider assignments that only control attendance and memory.
- Linking lectures and seminars. Well-designed seminars can help students link the theoretical concepts presented in lectures with concrete examples and relevant applications in the disciplines. Planning a lecture and a seminar as a coherent unit will help students to understand and apply the new knowledge more easily. This connection can also signal to the students that the lecture and the seminar have different functions in their learning process, and motivate their engagement.
- Integrating generic skills. All study programs aim to support students to develop skills in writing and presentation. Make sure that the seminars include both written and oral exercises, for example through a variation of active learning methods.