GSI Guidebook

Chad Hershock and Jeffrey Chun
Center for Research on Learning and Teaching

E-mail, online discussion tools, and social networking websites (e.g., Canvas, Facebook, flickr, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) offer tremendous potential to extend the boundaries of the physical classroom and to enhance student learning.  Many undergraduate students spend time using these online tools to develop and maintain their social networks.  Instructors can take advantage of these same tools to increase rapport and create a sense of community in their courses.  They also can help students develop greater motivation by showing the relevance of course-related material to students' lives.  By sharing a wide variety of resources with and among students, instructors can deepen exposure to course-related material and highlight connections among concepts within and across disciplines.  For example, Professor Mark Clague (Musicology, University of Michigan) uses Facebook to build community by informing his students of one another's class recitals and upcoming conferences and concerts they might wish to attend.  He can broaden their perspectives on course materials by creating a space for students to reflect upon and discuss resources he posts and connecting students to people outside U-M who share their interests in music.  Finally, links to a group that explores the growing (but still underrepresented) number of women conductors help him raise diversity awareness in a disciplinary-specific context. Read more »

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Erping Zhu
Center for Research on Learning and Teaching


Teaching and learning with technology can be both challenging and engaging for instructors and students. While technologies make it easier for instructors to create learning opportunities, provide prompt feedback, and improve student engagement with content materials, they also pose challenges. Following are some practical guidelines for using technology in teaching. They may help you manage technology-supported teaching more effectively, avoiding some of the common pitfalls. Read more »

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A.T. Miller
Center for Research on Learning and Teaching

As you consider constructing and maintaining your authority and credibility in the classroom, you should simultaneously consider the type of classroom climate you are trying to achieve. The manner in which you deal with student-to-student interactions as well as your own interaction with students can undermine or reinforce your authority and credibility in the classroom. Read more »

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Compiled by Chad Hershock and adapted by Stiliana Milkova, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching

Students learn best when they are actively engaged in the processing of information.  One way to involve students in active learning is to have them learn from each other in small groups or teams. Research shows that students working in small groups tend to learn more of what is taught, retain it longer than when the same content is presented in other instructional formats, and appear more satisfied with their classes (Davis 1993, Barkley, 2005). But not any group activity or task would promote learning. In order to be productive, a group assignment needs to be designed so that it leads to collaborative learning (Michaelson et al, 1997). Groups function most successfully when mechanisms for individual and group accountability inform group interactions. Effective management of group activity before, during, and after further maximizes student learning. Below are strategies for creating and managing group activities or assignments. Read more »

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Following is a memo written to the faculty at the University of Michigan from the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA). As part of the instructional staff at the U of M, graduate student insructors have the same responsibilities in relation to their students as do the faculty.

~September 15, 1986

To:       The Faculty

From:   SACUA

RE:      Gender and Respect in the University Community

SACUA has recently discussed the sensitive topic of sexual relationships between faculty and students and we would like to share our observations with you.

Faculty members have complex--sometimes paradoxical--obligations and responsibilities regarding students. We share with these adult students, and contribute substantially to, an important period in their intellectual and professional growth. When they are our co-workers, as teaching and research assistants or junior colleagues in research and scholarship, we are simultaneously responsible for them and dependent upon them. Read more »

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