Center for Teaching and Learning

Leading quiz sections

University of WashingtonQuiz sections provide students the opportunity to dive deeper into course material in a small group setting.  The quiz section is a place where students can ask and answer questions, review basic concepts and more complex material, apply information in practical ways, and explore explanations and approaches that are complimentary to those provide in lecture or in readings.

Before you start to prepare to teach your quiz section, clarify with your supervising faculty member what your role will be and what the overall goals for the section are.  Possible goals for quiz sections may include any one or any combination of the following:

  • Answering questions about homework
  • Providing practice beyond homework
  • Clarifying difficult concepts from the lecture and reading by providing alternate examples, explanations and discussion
  • Applying theory presented in lecture through further discussion or problem solving
  • Reviewing for exams
  • Taking quizzes
  • Teaching material that the professor does not have time to teach

When asked what helps them learn, students said it is very important for a TA to establish a clear link between the quiz section and lecture. This is best accomplished when the TA makes verbal and written links between lecture and the quiz section material. A few of the ways that have proven to be successful for establishing such links include:

  • The TA having a very good sense of what is happening in lecture.  For this reason, attending as many lectures as possible may be one of your responsibilities.  If there are multiple TAs in the course, you may take turns going to lecture and sharing notes and observations.
  • Establishing good communication between the faculty member and the TA(s). For example it can be helpful if the faculty member sends a summary e-mail to or has a brief conversation with the TA(s) after each lecture.

Frameworks that help students cognitively organize course material and help them establish a strong link between the activities in the quiz section and material covered in lecture include:

  • Outlines on the board at the beginning of class of key points that were covered in the lecture or of key concepts that will be covered in the quiz section.
  • Clear connections (visually represented on the board or overhead and emphasized orally) between theory and applications.
  • Hints on how to do types of problems and how to classify issues (i.e. help in prioritizing, ordering and classifying material).