In my country it is very common for courses to consist of two types of classes: lectures primarily focus on theoretical aspects of a topic and then after each lecture comes a corresponding “practice” class which covers practical aspects of the material from the preceding lecture, such as how to use it to solve exercises. These latter classes can be taught by the same professor or, quite often, by graduate students.

Is there a term for this kind of classes? If you are from another country, how can I concisely explain to you what these classes are for? How do I indicate in my CV that I was a teacher of such a “practical” part of a course?

As a person responsible for “practice” classes you have to plan them on your own (it is generally assumed that the topic of each class will be the same as that of the preceding lecture, but it is not a hard requirement and sometimes you might need to deviate); explain techniques and practical considerations; prove theorems (yourself or engaging the students) which didn’t fit into lectures because they were not required for the theoretical narration but rather have practical implications; solve exercises or have students solve them with your hints; etc. You are also responsible for designing and grading homework assignments, projects, tests.

In essence, professor “outsources” part of the course to you and then in the end gets your input about each student’s performance in it. The primary purpose is to divide students into smaller groups (of around 15 or less), each assigned to a separate teacher, so that each student gets more personal attention.

  • in fact the question can not be answerd without knowing which yountry you are in. If you were in Germany, all given answers so far (even the accepted one) are not 100% correct.
    – OBu
    Dec 9, 2018 at 13:46
  • Well, I know what it is called in my country, I am looking for something that will be understood by people from other countries, primarily English-speaking once.
    – kirelagin
    Dec 9, 2018 at 15:24

5 Answers 5


In the US, we used the term Recitation Section for such things. A TA and around 15-20 students would work together to make the lectures more personal in some way. In my experience (45 years) it was often used. Such a section would be stable in that the same TA would work with the same students over the course of a term.

  • 1
    Also "Discussion Section" in the US. Typically these involve working through problems as a group. Dec 7, 2018 at 3:18
  • That is interesting, I have never heard "Recitation Section," what region is that popular in? Dec 7, 2018 at 15:34
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    @APolyphonyofPirates, several places across the US, actually. Both coasts and the interior.
    – Buffy
    Dec 7, 2018 at 15:36
  • 1
    Why the downvote? Recitation is the standard name in the US, in my experience. Dec 7, 2018 at 15:46
  • I decided that personally I will go with “Recitation” because, even if it is not universal, at least it seems to be the least ambiguous of all the options offered.
    – kirelagin
    Dec 8, 2018 at 23:01

Try "tutorial".

Example writeup on what tutorials are from the University of New South Wales.

  • Yes, tutorial is probably the closest that I found when googling for a term for this. What doesn’t quite work in this case is that this term is somewhat ambiguous and usually seems to assume a very personal tutoring that happens not after each lecture but rather once a week. To quote Wikipedia “in groups of one to three on a weekly basis”.
    – kirelagin
    Dec 7, 2018 at 1:59
  • @kirelagin when I was taking the teacher training course in the UK, the tutorials supporting the main lecture had between 12 and 15 students with one faculty "driving" - I would not class Wikipedia as an authoritative source of good or current teaching practice or methods.
    – Solar Mike
    Dec 7, 2018 at 7:52
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    This is dangerous. In the German speaking world there are such classes the OP described, called "Übungen" or "Proseminare" or "Seminare". However, there also may be "Tutorien", which are non-graded, voluntary question/answer sessions with payed previous students/graduate students. There is a substantial difference in the requirements on the instructor between those two classes. If someone here would read "instructor of tutorials", he would assume the latter type of class, which is much easier/less work/less responsibility.
    – StefanS
    Dec 7, 2018 at 9:48
  • @StefanS: I wouldn't say those terms are defined very clearly in German. In my experience (compsci in Southern Germany), the terms "Übung" and "Tutorium" are used interchangeably, depending on the preference of the speaker, and may or may not be graded depending on other factors. "Seminar", in contrast, is something distinctly different, in that it is focused on participants giving (usually graded) talks. Dec 7, 2018 at 16:04

In the US I have heard them referred to as "discussion sections," "lab sections," or "fourth hour." Discussion implies a small group where students often work together to make sense of the material, although it may be more or less collaborative. Lab implies that they are working on practice problems or scenarios. Lab is more often used for science classes, although I had lab sections for some mathematics classes as well. The term "fourth hour" comes from a standard class meeting time taking 1.5 hours. Two meetings then would be 3 hours, and might be accompanied by a shorter class meeting to add another hour of time each week.

In the US, your job title would be Teaching Assistant or "TA" as it's often known. It is important to specify the variety of work that you have done, especially the curriculum design tasks. TAs in the US range from essentially teaching an entire course, including many lectures. Other TAs have almost no responsibility. They might take attendance, grade tests, and hold office hours to answer questions. And everything in between.

  • Rather than "Teacher's Assistant?" Dec 7, 2018 at 16:56
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    Other names for the same thing: quiz section, recitation section, tutorial, practicum, or just "section".
    – JeffE
    Dec 7, 2018 at 19:41
  • @Buffy I agree, I think I spaced and forgot the term. I've edited the answer to use it. Thanks! Dec 9, 2018 at 12:16

These are also called "quiz sections" at my university.


Best described as a "Tutorial" in my experience.

  • 3
    This is repeating the other answer
    – Nobody
    Dec 8, 2018 at 13:43

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