Articulating Learning Objectives for an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Program: Merging Teaching Practicum, Leadership Seminar, and Service Learning

Jeffrey W. Murray


Since its inception in 2009, the Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Program (in the Department of Focused Inquiry at Virginia Commonwealth University) has evolved and expanded into an amalgamation of three distinct but overlapping elements: (i) teaching practicum, (ii) leadership seminar, and (iii) service learning experience. But only recently have we begun to fully and systematically itemize and map the precise learning objectives of the program. This task is particularly important, and particularly challenging, as the program merges learning objectives typically associated with each of the aforementioned elements. This essay seeks to more fully and more systematically articulate the precise learning objectives of this program, first by collating the observations and best practices of faculty who participate in the program into a list of seven skill sets and twenty-one subordinate classroom activities and modes of engagement, second by wedding those results with the “ABC” framework of experiential learning discussed by Carver (1996), and third by further mapping specific learning objectives within that framework through a process of triangulation. It is hoped that this process can be deployed in any similar undergraduate teaching assistant or peer mentoring program in order to reveal the interconnections among various programmatic elements and particular learning objectives.


undergraduate teaching assistant, peer mentor, service learning, experiential learning, learning objectives, learning outcomes, teacher training

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