University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Amherst: General Education

Umass Logo image 1 image 2 image3

Teaching & Advising


Directing Several Sections of a General Education Course

One of the biggest challenges the General Education Program encounters is maintaining the goals of the program across several sections of a Gen Ed Course, especially those courses that are taught by graduate Teaching Assistants and Associates.class

Each department approaches this differently, but two approaches stand out as successful. The first is to appoint a Course Director to coordiante and supervise TAs. A Course Director is usually an established faculty who helps prepare TAs to teach a Gen Ed course. Directors often use a course template to help guide TAs in planning their own syllabi, giving them a structure in which they can work within. They also hold weekly or biweekly meetings with TAs to discuss pedagogy, policies, deal with problems, etc.

The other approach goes through the Undergraduate Program Director of the department who helps craft a template for GenEd courses and provides (at the very least) a TA orientation program to introduce instructors to the expectations and delivery of a GenEd course. A course template, along with a semesterly orientation, has proven to be an effective way to ensure consistency across GenEd courses and goes a long way in guiding section instructors in the learning goals of their GenEd Courses.