Teachers FAQs

How do I limit material due to time constraints?


Begin by asking yourself—what is it students should know and be able to do as a result of today’s class session? In other words what are your learning objectives for this class session? And how will they be able to demonstrate to me that they do know and can do these things? (Note: If you are new to learning objectives the article on learning objectives from the Teaching and Learning Lab at MIT is highly recommended, it is the last resource in the section linked to above.)

How do I grade fairly and accurately?


  • Consider grading based only on mastery of material and not on personalities or perceived-effort.

  • Avoid competition between students - this may generate animosities and a poor learning environment.

  • Do not overemphasize grades. Emphasize learning over grades.

  • Keep students informed of their progress throughout the term.


How do I grade short answer tests?


  • When grading short answers on tests: spend a few minutes "calibrating" with your professor and/or your fellow graders. It is important to establish some kind of grading standards. While it is often impossible to have grading consistency on subjective tests, there needs to be agreement on what constitutes acceptable work at each grade level.

  • When grading a test several pages long: grade everyone's first page, then everyone's second page, then everyone's third page. It is much easier on your brain than doing one whole test at a time.

How do I balance my life as a

Don't reinvent the wheel all the time. Ask for help. Share ideas and material with other GTFs as much as possible. An efficient way to do this is through a listserv - especially for GTFs who are all leading discussion groups for the same course. Share the handouts you develop, the teaching ideas (roleplays, simulations, small group activities that actually work well, etc.). Share your criteria for grading so that there is as much consistency as possible across sections. Some GTFs create a "community website" as a common resource for a course.