Tap TAs To Teach Writing

To integrating oral and written assign­ments into its curriculum, one school engaged its teaching assistants.
Not all business schools can fund a full-fledged center dedicated to oral and written presentation skills like the Kogod Center for Business Communications (see “Com­munication Channels”). But any school can take a more coordinated approach to integrating oral and written assign­ments into its curriculum, says center director Bonnie Auslander. One effective strategy, she advises, can be to engage teaching assistants in a number of ways to improve stu­dents’ communication skills:

Select TAs who have demon­strated strong oral and written skills by soliciting recommendations from professors or recruiting previ­ous students.

Train TAs in skills that make great tutors. These skills include “say-back” methods, in which TAs repeat what they hear the student saying to ensure understanding, and “wait times” after asking ques­tions to give students time to think and respond.

Expand TA duties. Don’t just have TAs grade final papers. Encourage them to hold regular small group meetings with students who are preparing oral and written assignments. Use these meetings to support students throughout the writing process, from brainstorming and draft preparation to revising and editing.