Key Information

Volume 7, 1999-2000, bound complete issues [ISSN: 1068-6096; 8-by-10-inch; ISBN: 1-58107-187-6] $22.95


The Contents

JTA07coverGetting Organized: A Pragmatic Tool for Writing Graduate Papers             5
Patricia M. Shields
This article describes the contents of a successful Teaching Assistant workshop. The workshop introduces a “Notebook Method” of writing scholarly papers. The notebook method is viewed as a pragmatic tool of inquiry. It transforms writing a paper into managing a project. The project management aspects of writing a thesis or dissertation are emphasized, in addition, the method is linked to tile pragmatic theory of inquiry developed by Charles Sander Peirce and John Dewey.

From Teaching Assistant to Educator: Beginning Steps on the Professional Path                  19
Steven N. Trautwein
This paper describes a program for training graduate students to teach “on the job” that utilizes the setting of examples, coaching and evaluation. An important component is described: the prep meeting, conducted like a class in cooperative learning, but emphasizing teaching techniques as well as subject matter. A list of suggestions for any supervisor of graduate teaching assistants provides guidelines for nurturing and challenging beginning teachers, with explanations and examples for implementing these suggestions. The effectiveness of the program is assessed by classroom evaluations, student feedback, and anecdotes from the teaching assistants themselves.

Peer Mentoring Perspectives in GTA Training: A Conceptual Road Map 27
Tamara S. Bollis-Pecci and Kandi L. Walker
This paper examines the challenges and opportunities of a peer mentoring relationship by employing the perspectives of two female graduate students who completed a peer mentoring program as part of their training as GTAs. This paper is unique in that it not only provides a current literature review on mentoring and GTA training, but also merges the perspectives and experiences of a former peer mentor and GTA dyad. The extended metaphor of a “journey” is employed to describe the nature of the peer mentoring relationship. Similarly, the preparation the “travel companions” undertake throughout this journey is conceptualized as a “road map” assisting in the navigation of this new terrain.

Leading a Workshop on Conflict Management for Teaching Assistants    39
Barb Bloemhof and Diane Zorn
The aim of this article is to share a conflict management workshop that the authors developed to train teaching assistants to proactively manage conflict, achieve productive results for conflict, and establish a climate of trust in which relationships beneficial to learning can flourish. The article begins by defining an approach to conflict management and explaining the rationale behind the workshop. A detailed plan of the workshop is then presented. Finally, results are reported of a “before the workshop” and “after the workshop” survey from two recent groups of workshop participants that shows improved perceived ability to deal effectively with conflict.

TA Talk  63
… a column for the Graduate Teaching Assistant.

Lessons Learned During Five Years of the UC Davis Program in College Teaching                  69
Tami Winternitz and William E. Davis
National attention has focused on programs that go beyond TA training to prepare participants for teaching careers in higher education. This five year review of a successful program describes programmatic and administrative strengths and concerns, and provides guidance and insight for institutions with new or developing programs. Elements reviewed include: the original principles which guided establishment of the program and how well they have served; new principles which have evolved during the past five years; participant and mentor satisfaction; and participant employment success.

Keeping Established Teaching Assistant Training Programs Vital: What Does It Take?        77
Nick A. Thornburg, Fred E. Wood, and William E. Davis
With the establishment of many departmental programs during the past decade, TA developers now ask how established, maturing programs can be maintained and kept vital. These questions are addressed by a graduate student departmental TA coordinator, a faculty member responsible for departmental TA training programs, and a campus-wide TA training program coordinator. A case study of the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Davis, is discussed, with attention drawn to key elements in the maturation and subsequent revitalization of its TA training program.

Developing a Teaching Philosophy Statement: A Special Challenge for Graduate Students              85
Donna Ellis and Gary Griffin
This paper outlines a method for helping graduate students develop a teaching philosophy statement. The authors provide details on a teaching philosophy workshop run at their institution as well as other tools for graduate students to explore on their own. Feedback on the workshop and tools is presented as excerpts from reflective papers written by workshop participants. A student-generated tool for thinking about philosophies of teaching is also discussed.

Preparing Tomorrow’s Faculty: An Assessment Model to Determine Institutional Needs                93
Nannette Evans Commander, Lynn Hart, and Marti Singer
The increasing emphasis on the quality of undergraduate teaching has resulted in efforts to better prepare Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) and Part-time Instructors (PTIs) for their classroom responsibilities. This article describes assessment activities conducted at a public research university and how the findings led to recommendations for a teacher development program based on needs. Participants are full-time faculty, GTAs and PTIs and students that responded to survey and interview questions. Findings led to recommendations and implementation of a program designed specifically to meet the needs of the institution. Twelve essential steps in the needs assessment process are discussed as a model for designing a teaching enhancement program at research institutions.

TA Talk  113
… a column for the Graduate Teaching Assistant.

Helping Graduate Assistants Teach Physics: Problems and Solutions        123
Eugenia Etkina
The paper describes our “Basics of Teaching Physics” course as an approach to TA training in SMET departments. Basics of Teaching Physics is a 2 semester, 2 credit (1 credit per semester) regular graduate course in the physics department, in which TAs learn pedagogical content knowledge and apply this knowledge in their classes. The course professor observes them teaching undergraduates and provides feedback. All the teaching in the course is done in the constructivist way — the TAs construct their own understanding of how to help students learn physics through guided questions, problem solving, reading and analyzing papers, discussions of their teaching experience, and group work.

Facilitating Open-Ended Problem Solving: Training Engineering TAs to Facilitate Open-Ended Problems Solving    139
Ruth A. Streveler and Robert H. King
Multidisciplinary Engineering Laboratory (MEL) courses at the Colorado School of Mines present students with open-ended problems that integrate information from several areas of engineering. Students enrolled in MEL courses learn problem-solving through learning how to evaluate evidence to come up with the best answer among several alternatives. Teaching assistants involved in MEL must act as coaches in the problem solving process. This paper describes and evaluates a 4-session training for MEL TAs that focuses their attention on student development approaches to student learning.

New Teaching Assistants Facilitate Active Learning in Chemistry Laboratories: Promoting Teaching Assistant Learning through Formative Assessment and Peer Review              147
Janet Bond Robinson
A half-semester course for incoming graduate students provides six weeks of discussion, six formative observations and six peer reviews, culminating in a summative performance evaluation worth 80% of the teaching assistant’s (TA’s) course grade. In design of the course for new TAs, decisions were based on literature concerning the development of TAs, evaluation of TAs, apprenticeship with reflective practitioners, and the social nature of learning in the workplace. The importance of communication among members of a community of practice motivated observation, feedback and subsequent discussion in the context of the laboratory-as-workplace for TAs. Active participation in these activities represented 20% of the course grade. Results for the formative and summative evaluation and for pre- and post-Efficacy in Teaching instruments are provided. Progress made by TAs in aspects of pedagogical content knowledge is described and discussed.

Going Beyond Basic Communication Issues: New Pedagogical Training of International TAs in SMET Fields at Two Ohio Universities        163
Li Tang and Karin Sandell
ITAs attending U.S. universities today arrive on campus with substantially better language training, and thus much greater proficiency, than those enrolled in the 1980s and early 1990s. Enhanced language skills do not, however, necessarily translate into improved teaching. Current ITA training thus increasingly incorporates structured pedagogical training, particularly for ITAs in natural science and engineering fields, who tend to have both limited knowledge of the American classroom culture and little prior teaching experience. This article presents innovative ITA training programs at two Ohio public universities that focus sensitizing new ITAs to cultural differences and teaching strategies commonly used by American classrooms. Furthermore, these ITA training programs are designed to reflect and incorporate each institution’s own culture, such as the geographical location and demographics of American undergraduate students.

1+1=3: Unanticipated Benefits of a Co-facilitation Model for Training Teaching Assistants              173
Kathryn Hollar, Virleen Carlson, and Patricia Spenser
Cornell University’s College of Engineering TA Development Program trains experienced engineering graduate students, called TA Fellows, to deliver instruction in teaching to new TAs. Two TA Fellows act as co-facilitators at all times, in all workshops. The instruction is grounded in engineering case study and delivered using active learning techniques. Using a co-facilitation model to new TAs enhances the training program for engineering TAs, providing unexpected benefits for participants, TA Fellows, and program administrators.

Resources for Teaching Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology       182 

Web Resources                183