Professional development for graduate teaching assistants

Falcon Restrepo-Ramos and EUS/SPN 4930 students

Falcon Restrepo-Ramos (front row in Gator blue shirt) with his students at the Student Symposium of Language policies in the multilingual European landscape (EUS/SPN 4930), Spring 2019.

by Falcon Restrepo-Ramos
Hispanic Linguistics, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies
University of Florida

Years in grad school might seem like a tremendous endeavor for anyone pursuing a graduate degree. Such experience entails years of courses, research, coffee, and, in my case and many others, teaching.

Precisely, the figure of graduate teaching assistant (GTA) in one of the biggest state universities in the country (Go Gators!) not only carries a great deal of work but also memorable moments and many opportunities for innovative teaching and professional development.

Aside from the many different responsibilities of GTAs, which at times feels overwhelming, there are also grants, awards, programs and funding support that can make the University of Florida GTA experience professionally rewarding.

Here I would like to list two main lines of teaching and professional development that helped me maximize my GTA experience at UF. As you will see below, this list follows incremental steps towards a set of goals.

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7 tips to effectively use games and gamification in the college classroom

By Min Xiao
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Min Xiao

Min Xiao

Many people think educational games are for elementary school students and adults are too old to play them. In fact, games are widely used in both academic and professional trainings.

In universities, some professors ask their students to role-play being a manager in a company to solve real-world business issues. This activity is actually a role-playing game.

In the professional world, many companies use games as major team-building activities during orientation for new employees.

When people play games, they are usually very happy. This positive mood helps them to learn knowledge quicker and better than usual.

Another way to enliven the class is to use a technique called gamification. People often confuse gamification with using games in class. In fact, the two concepts are very different.

Gamification means borrowing game elements and applying these elements in non-game situations. For instance, teachers can adopt ranking and rewarding systems from video games and apply them in their class. The structure of the class is like a game, but students may not play a real game in the class.

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