The Teaching Teams Program was established in 1998 to address student and faculty requests for a more dynamic learning environment and supporting resources at the University of Arizona. Teaching Teams has grown from its formative years in the Department of Planetary Science to spread campus-wide across disciplines. Teaching Teams typically works with over 200 preceptors per year, serving dozens of different courses and reaching thousands of students.
The initial goal of Teaching Teams was to transform the student experience of passive learning in large lecture courses to active learning through the cultivation of student cohorts. Teaching Teams grew through faculty participation, and student enthusiasm to make classrooms at the University of Arizona dynamic, accessible, and also to meet the challenge for academic excellence using unconventional peer learning techniques.
Structure of a Teaching Team and the Preceptor Program
A teaching team is a student cohort that directs peer-to-peer learning. It is guided by faculty and Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA), but is highly collaborative in nature. Students, faculty, or combination of students and faculty guide the goals of the teaching team.
Students that participate in the teaching team are called preceptors. Faculty can have as few a one preceptor, or as many as are useful for the learning objectives.
A Teaching Team is not content specific. Teaching Teams was developed with the understanding that faculty are the experts in their specific content areas. Therefore, faculty should decide what takes place in the classroom. Preceptors have the ability to simultaneously learn and enrich the content delivery process in the classroom, in what is called Just In Time Learning. Some preceptors will have previously been a student to the faculty member, or have worked in some capacity with the course content, or participated in research. These students are welcome to participate as preceptors, as well.
Some faculty choose to use preceptors minimally for a semester project, lecture, demonstration, or to facilitate another project or activity. Other faculty choose to use preceptors extensively for those purposes. Faculty are encouraged to determine a comfortable level of participation. Any questions about this can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teaching Teams Programs focus on three key ideas:
- Students are an incredibly powerful resource in the classroom for teaching, learning, assessment, and research.
- Student-faculty interaction advances current classroom resources for students and faculty.
- Student-faculty interaction improves the overall teaching and learning environment at the University of Arizona. The result is a sense of community cultivated through authentic engagement and learning in many content areas, and pushing students and faculty towards academic success.