Sheffield Teaching Assistant

The Sheffield Teaching Assistant (STA) provision provides support for early career teachers including Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs), Teaching Associates, Postgraduate Research (PGR) students who teach, and all other early career teachers or who have roles where they are beginning to teach.

We aim to provide support for you in the development of your practice and to put you in touch with other STAs so that you can discuss challenges and share good practice with your peers.

Teacher and student in a lab

Professional Development Opportunities for STAs


We offer a series of workshops covering different aspects of teaching which run throughout the year, covering the following topics:

Introduction to teaching as a GTA

This workshop will provide an overview of what it means to be a GTA at The University of Sheffield. It will explore the expectations of teaching in UKHE, the types of teaching contexts you may be involved in and their implications for you as a teacher, as well as the skills you bring to the role and how these can support your teaching. It will also introduce you to approaches you can use to reflect critically on your practice throughout your career that will help you to develop as a teacher.

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Describe the key elements of GTA teaching in your discipline and teaching context
  • Discuss how your background, experiences and expertise might influence your teaching practice
  • Critically reflect on your practice as a GTA as your experience develops

Teaching Design and Delivery

This workshop is for those new to teaching who have been asked to design and deliver new teaching sessions. The workshop focuses on the key elements of the teaching session - the design of appropriate learning outcomes and teaching activities that support student learning.

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Identify factors that influence how students learn
  • Produce appropriate aims and learning outcomes for a session
  • Plan activities that enable students to achieve the learning outcomes
  • Design a teaching session.

Active Learning Techniques and Monitoring Understanding

This workshop introduces strategies to provide opportunities for students to construct meaning through actively engaging with module content. Strategies for easily monitoring student understanding and progress throughout a teaching session will also be introduced as a method of formative assessment alongside ways in which you can plan flexibly so you can respond to misconceptions as they arise. You will have the opportunity to adapt and apply the strategies from the workshop to your own teaching context.

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Consider the theory and application of active learning strategies
  • Adapt your current teaching methods using the principles of constructivism
  • Identify opportunities for formative assessment in your teaching
  • Adapt formative assessment methods to be appropriate for your subject.
  • Explore flexible approaches to planning to allow you to respond to student understanding

Assessment and Feedback

This workshop is focused on providing you with an overview of effective practice in student assessment and providing feedback. You will be introduced to strategies and activities that will allow you to mark student work accurately and reliably. There will also be consideration of how to identify and deal with unfair means, for example plagiarism and also look at ways to avoid them being used by students. The workshop will explore the impact of feedback on learning and give you guidance on how to provide students with effective written and verbal feedback.

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Discuss how to assess student work accurately and fairly
  • Identify types of unfair means and consider strategies to avoid them being used by students
  • Define the role of feedback in learning
  • Deconstruct good examples of feedback and adapt them to be appropriate in your own practice

Learner Diversity: Managing Student Expectations and Transitions

This workshop explores the reasons for mismatches of expectations between students and UK Higher Education (HE) teachers which derive from differences in learners’ background and experiences. The aim of the workshop is to introduce strategies to align these expectations and maximise the benefits of teaching and learning in a diverse setting. You will have the opportunity to reflect on your own practice and consider how you could apply the strategies from the workshop into your own teaching. You will also have the chance to discuss ideas on this topic with peers.

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Identify the differences and similarities of learners in your teaching sessions
  • Explore the challenges presented by learner diversity and formulate solutions
  • Identify and formulate strategies to maximise the benefits of an inclusive learning environment
  • Reflect on your own practice and identify ways to adapt your teaching to make learning accessible to all


This workshop focuses on effective practice in teaching large groups, including: engaging your audience, designing effective lectures, promoting active engagement in lectures and effective classroom management. Come to the session with your questions about teaching large groups, and any fears or anxieties.

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Explain the purpose of lecturing within the context of your discipline
  • Apply the principles of effective lecture design to a teaching/presentation situation
  • Identify solutions to potential issues related to classroom management
  • Reflect on your experiences to inform your lecturing practice

Laboratory Demonstrations

This workshop focuses on identifying and addressing challenges which GTAs face in laboratory teaching. The session will explore effective questioning techniques and their application and strategies to promote good learning behaviours and transferable skills which will also be relevant for project work. There will be an opportunity to apply new techniques to your own teaching context and discuss ideas with peers.

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Define the role of a GTA in the lab
  • Assess the impact of different question words on learning
  • Identify obstacles to the development of transferable skills and formulate solutions
  • Reflect on your practice and plan the application of new pedagogic strategies

Teaching Small Groups (previously Seminar Facilitation)

This workshop will help you to develop your skills in planning and running seminars or other small group teaching sessions. We will examine the purpose and benefits of teaching in small groups, and how to use factors underpinning successful learning to plan effective teaching sessions. There will also be an opportunity to explore strategies for managing the dynamics of small groups and resolving common challenges.

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Identify the purpose and benefits of small group teaching sessions, both generally and in your discipline
  • Apply knowledge about how people learn in order to design and facilitate effective group sessions
  • Identify challenges that may arise in small group sessions, and explore potential solutions

Research Supervision

This workshop will provide you with an overview of the responsibilities of research supervisors for undergraduate and taught postgraduate research projects. You will consider the role of research projects within the curriculum, your role (and its limits) as a supervisor, strategies for developing and maintaining effective relationships with students and other supervisors, and how to structure supervision meetings to support students with their projects.

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Describe the role that engaging with research plays in supporting student learning
  • Identify research supervisor roles and responsibilities and approaches to managing student expectations
  • Devise solutions to common problems that might arise when supervising research students
  • Reflect on your experiences of supervision relationships and how they might inform your approach.

Setting Boundaries

This workshop explores the importance of setting healthy boundaries, both for yourself and your students. To be effective in your role it is vital you know your limits and establish clear boundaries. You will explore approaches to boundary setting, which supports students to become more responsible, autonomous and independent. Case study analysis will provide the opportunity for you to identify boundary setting in-action, apply the learning to your context and develop boundary setting strategies, which promote well-being and protect both parties.

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Identify boundary types with their rationale
  • Discuss how to establish the necessary boundaries
  • Evaluate how these boundaries are drawn, negotiated and conducted

Group Project Facilitation (previously Small Group Project Facilitation)

This workshop will equip you with strategies and practical tools to help support students as they work together on mid to long term group projects. The workshop will examine Tuckman's theory of group dynamics to help explore how groups can work most effectively together, what challenges they may encounter in the course of the project and what a teacher or facilitator can do to help support effective group work over time.
By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Identify the role and responsibilities of a group facilitator
  • Apply strategies to support effective group dynamics
  • Apply strategies to promote effective learning behaviours in a collaborative team environment

Peer Teaching

In this workshop you will have the opportunity to teach a 4 minute session which you will be asked to prepare in advance to a small group of peers. This will give you the chance to practice using Blackboard Collaborate and to experiment with activities you plan to use with your own students. At the end of the four minutes, your peers will give you feedback about how they experienced the session from a student’s perspective. There will also be an opportunity for discussion and suggestions about different tools and approaches to try. You will then observe your peers and give them feedback.

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Use Blackboard Collaborate to deliver an online teaching session
  • Identify practical steps for improvement based on peer feedback
  • Give feedback on short teaching sessions to peers

Discussion-Based Learning

This workshop will explore the challenges and opportunities of discussion-based teaching, and strategies for supporting meaningful discussion in your teaching sessions. It will consider different ‘models’ for discussion by enacting them. This workshop will be run through a series of discussion-based activities so that you can experience these, and reflect on how they might be used in your own practice. For this reason, this workshop will only be run face-to-face.

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Explore factors that impact on the quality of discussion
  • Discuss challenges and opportunities in discussion-based teaching
  • Experience and evaluate strategies for fostering effective discussion

Once you have attended the workshop you will be signed up to a Blackboard organisation which includes the workshop materials, extra resources and a suggested reading list on the topic.

To make the workshops as accessible as possible we schedule some sessions to run face to face and others online. Please check the location when you book a place.

Find out more and book a place

Tailored Individual Advice

Our 1:1 advice slots offer an opportunity to discuss any element of your teaching practice or how to use digital learning tools in your teaching with a member of the Elevate team.

Book an advice slot

Online Resources

Our Learning and Teaching Getting started guides will help you design and deliver your teaching content.

Visit the Teaching getting started pages

Recognising and Sharing Practice

The Learning and Teaching Professional Recognition Scheme (LTPRS)

The Learning and Teaching Professional Recognition Scheme (LTPRS) provides a way for you to get recognition for the teaching you do which can be useful for promotion or applications to other HE institutions. The Foundation Pathway is a structured route to Associate Fellow (AFHEA) for people who are starting to teach.

Find out more about LTPRS

Find out more about the Foundation Pathway

The STA Teaching Forum

The STA Teaching Forum is an online space for early career teachers, dedicated to conversations about teaching strategies and challenges, and for sharing informal advice, good practice and ideas. It is designed to support and improve your practice and to put you in touch with your peers.

Visit the STA Teaching Forum

The Elevate Blog

The Elevate Blog provides a collaborative space in which to showcase excellence in Learning & Teaching at the University of Sheffield, as well as to support discussion on best practice.

Feature pieces, news, events and resources will be posted to the Blog so that readers can keep up to date with all things Learning & Teaching across the University. Contributions are welcome from all members of staff and students.

Visit the Elevate Blog

The STAff Room

Join the Elevate STA Team for a drink and a chat (feel free to bring your lunch too!) on the last Wednesday of every month 12 - 1pm @ The Elevate Hub, 210 Portobello.

This is a very informal social gathering and there is no agenda, just a chance to take a break and meet other GTAs.