GSI Guidebook

Stiliana Milkova
Center for Research on Learning and Teaching

A lesson plan is the instructor’s road map of what students need to learn and how it will be done effectively during the class time. Before you plan your lesson, you will first need to identify the learning objectives for the class meeting.  Then, you can design appropriate learning activities and develop strategies to obtain feedback on student learning. A successful lesson plan addresses and integrates these three key components:

  • Objectives for student learning
  • Teaching/learning activities
  • Strategies to check student understanding

Specifying concrete objectives for student learning will help you determine the kinds of teaching and learning activities you will use in class, while those activities will define how you will check whether the learning objectives have been accomplished (see Fig. 1).


Steps for Preparing a Lesson Plan

Below are six steps to guide you when you create your first lesson plans. Each step is accompanied by a set of questions meant to prompt reflection and aid you in designing your teaching and learning activities. Read more »


Portions adapted from Amy Kao (2008) and edited by Jon Lillemoen, Manager, Research Health & Safety (2013)

The information below is necessary to facilitate good communication between you and your department, other GSIs, and your students. GSI Tip: Be sure to check that all names and numbers are correct if you inherit this list from someone else.



Jennifer Sinor and Matt Kaplan

Center for Research on Learning and Teaching

The syllabus—what students eagerly await on the first day; a record of the class; one of the only artifacts to remain after the students move on. Your syllabus represents both an end and a beginning—a final product of your course planning and a valuable way to introduce yourself and the course to your students. Because your syllabus is one of the few formal, tangible links between you and your students and because it will be referred to throughout the semester, time and energy should be spent on constructing your syllabus. Research indicates that outstanding instruction and a detailed syllabus are directly related (Grunert, 1997).  Students will appreciate and respond positively to a syllabus that bears the marks of being well planned.

The information you will need to include in your syllabus will vary depending on the course or section you are teaching as well as your responsibilities in the class. For example, GSIs teaching discussion sections will include different kinds and amounts of information than GSIs who are responsible for an entire course. Therefore, you will need to tailor the following description to your particular teaching duties. It is, however, a good idea in all courses and sections to hand out some form of syllabus on the first day. Examples of syllabi representing a variety of teaching responsibilities can be found on subsequent pages. Read more »


Portions adapted from Amy Kao (2008) and edited by Jon Lillemoen, Manager, Research Health & Safety (2013)

Use this checklist before classes begin to help you determine the logistics for running your laboratory section. If the following information has not been made available to you, contact the instructor or supervisor to find out about each item or to determine if this information pertains to your class: Read more »


Compliance Resource Center

As a GSI, there are a number of legal compliance issues to keep in mind.  You are a U-M employee, and are responsible for making sure you conduct your work as an instructor in accordance with the various legal and regulatory requirements that bind the University. As a primary interface with students, you are also in a unique position to spot potential issues that arise in the classroom, and to raise them with someone in your department before they cause bigger problems.

The four most important legal issues for you to keep in mind are:

  1. Student records – protecting students’ information;
  2. Safety – for yourself and your students;
  3. Copyright – making sure class materials are legally used and distributed; and
  4. Appropriate treatment of students.

1.  Student records – protecting students’ information

All information about a student – such as their personal information, enrollment details, assignments and grades – form part of their "student record", which is protected by a Federal law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (commonly called “FERPA”).  Student records must be handled in accordance with that law by all those who have access to them.  For example, the requirements mean that: Read more »