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A Game (Changer) for Teaching Assistants

We want students to reach great heights in their undergraduate studies (of chemistry and any other discipline) - and teaching assistants (TAs) can be the agents of change that support this learning progression!


Learn more about this open-access educational tool for use in TA professional development.

Game Materials

Access printable versions of the game board, instructions, playing cards, and handouts for TAs.  

Feedback & Contributions

Share your feedback and ideas: How have you adapted the game for use?

How Can TAs Catalyze Student Learning?

Catalyze! is an open-access educational tool for use in TA professional development.
Swipe the images below to read about the goals, benefits, and adaptations of the game.



The game aims to impress upon TAs their spheres of influence, beyond course content:
1. study strategies; 2. motivation and mindset; 3. prior knowledge and misconceptions; 4. classroom climate; and 5. social and personal issues. 



The game is a fun, low-stake means for TAs to:
1.  Self-assess and expand their pedagogical (content) knowledge;
2. Engage in professional dialogue and expertise exchange with peers;
3. Experience first-hand active (game-based) learning.



Originally designed for chemistry TA professional development, the game is versatile with respect to audience size, moderator participation, and the context in which it is played. Scenarios can be easily tailored to other institutions and to other disciplines.

Game Materials

The materials and set-up are highlighted below.

Game Board and Instructions

One game board (8.5 x 14 in.) and set of instructions (8.5 x 11 in., double-sided) is required for every 4 players.

Accompanying Handouts

The game's learning outcomes and full set of citations can be distributed to each player.


Over 50 Playing Cards

Individual files (.docx, .pdf) are provided for each of the 5 playing card categories. 

Not Included

Players also require a 6-sided colorful die, team tokens, notepads, pencils/pens, and a timing device. These can be purchased separately.


Let's Play!

A synopsis of the rules is provided in the adjacent panel.

There is the option of an abridged (~ 30 minutes) or full (~ 1 hour) game.

TAs should divide into teams of 2 or more players.

All teams are encouraged to exercise creativity and care when formulating an answer, and fairness and reason when assessing other’s answers.


Catalyze! is a fun, low-stakes way to assess professional teaching competencies, collaborate with peers, and experience active (game-based) learning!

“… I found that engaging in that exercise allowed me to see the bigger picture about student struggles and how to help them overcome certain barriers.”

“… the game gave me the opportunity to listen to my peer’s insights on some of the situations that might be encountered while teaching. The shared experiences and points of view enriched my perspective and made me think about ways to look at situations I wouldn’t have thought by myself.”

Comment and Contribute

Share with us your questions, how you have adapted the game for use at your institution, and/or any new scenarios you have developed (for use by others).


Created by
Stacey Brydges and Holly Dembinski
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of California San Diego

JCE Publication in Review