Instructional Support Corps develop resources to support TAs, faculty, students

Two people sitting on a bench
The graduate fellows worked with staff from the Library, the Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning (CITL), and Online Education on projects designed to result in broadly usable instructional resources. The projects are described below. (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

This fall was billed as a “return to normal” at educational institutions around the country. At UC Santa Cruz, it hasn’t been that. Instructors have been dealing with teaching in multiple modalities, helping students reorient to in-person learning, and navigating complex public health protocols. Still, in some ways, including innovations and improvements in instruction, it has been better than normal. Instructors across the campus are using more new tools and techniques in their teaching than ever before. A lot of work went into making that happen, and much of that work was done by graduate students. 

One example of graduate students’ contribution to the ongoing successful transition back to campus is the Instructional Support Corps. The Instructional Support Corps was a group of 17 graduate student fellows from across the divisions who developed instructional resources in preparation for the Fall Quarter that continue to help teaching assistants and faculty—and students.

Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer provided funding for the Instructional Support Corps to offer meaningful paid opportunities for graduate students, for whom summer appointments can be rare, and to increase the capacity of the many units on campus that support instruction. The graduate fellows worked with staff from the Library, the Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning (CITL), and Online Education on projects designed to result in broadly usable instructional resources. The projects are described below.

Open Educational Resources

Emily Travis, Jennifer Guerrero, and Chessa Adsit-Morris worked with Associate University Librarian Kerry Scott and Katharin Peters, the Library’s Head of Research and Support Services, on the Library’s efforts to promote and support the use of open educational resource (OER) textbooks in undergraduate courses. (OER textbooks are free, high-quality textbooks that are available online. More information is here.)

Hybrid Instruction

Brittany Caldwell and Leslie Lodwick developed a self-paced version of Online Education’s “Integrated Course Design for Hybrid Instruction” workshop with Instructional Designers Caitlin Binder and Megan McNamara. (A hybrid course combines synchronous and asynchronous elements. Students in a hybrid course typically watch lecture videos on their own time and engage in active learning during class time.)

CITL Website

Katie Kobayashi worked with Samara Foster, Managing Director of the CITL, to redesign the CITL’s website. Harikrishna Kuttivelil, Melody Nixon, and Nikka Malakooti supported the development of the content for the redesigned teaching and learning resources. The new site was launched in October.

“Booster Packs”

Batu Aytemiz worked with CITL staff to develop a set of teaching materials (“booster packs”) for Computational Media instructors and TAs to use with their undergraduate students. (A booster pack is a curation and distillation of articles, videos, books, and other resources on a specific game design topic. These booster packs provide foundational resources and compress them into digestible bites and also provide links for those wanting a deeper dive. An example can be found here.

Pedagogy and Technology Guides

Esra Ozban, Ellie Frazer, and Ryan Lambe developed a set of pedagogical and instructional technology guides, which can be found in the “Teaching Practices” and “Digital Tools” sections of, for teaching assistants and faculty with Online Education’s Instructional Technology Support Specialist Dana Conard. Vishal Chakraborty also worked on an OE project: the “Integrity Key,” a website that generates a visual key that shows students which resources they may use on exams and other high-stakes assessments.

Project Real

Amanda Carbajal and Elsie Carrillo joined the CITL’s “Project Real” teaching team to provide design consultations and lead a session on how faculty can best support their teaching assistants and readers. (“Project Real” is a multipart workshop that helps faculty identify and address equity gaps in their courses.)

None of these projects would have been possible without the Instructional Support Corps. The Library, CITL, and Online Education are highly productive units, but none had the capacity to produce these new resources on its own. Speaking for all three units, Foster said, “We are grateful for this funding that both provided a paid professional development opportunity for graduate students and allowed our units and the campus as a whole to benefit from the talents and skills of our amazing graduate students. Their contributions were pivotal to supporting teaching and learning during the transition to Fall Quarter and beyond.”