The Journal of Graduate Teaching Assistant Development, Volume 1

Key Information

Volume 1, 1993-94, bound complete issues [ISSN: 1068-6096; 8-by-10-inch; ISBN: 1-58107-193-0] $22.95


The Contents

JTA01coverFrom the Editor                4
By Karron G. Lewis
Welcome to the first issue of The Journal of Graduate Teaching Assistant Development.

Information Units and Cohesive Devices in Teaching Assistant Responses to Student Questions                 5
By Ann Robinson
Teaching assistants spend a considerable portion of their time responding to student questions. Consequently, the ability to answer those questions is essential to teaching assistant (TA) effectiveness. This paper, drawn from a larger study that analyzed more than 150 TA responses to student-generated questions in economics, indicates that effective packing of information, appropriate use of discourse markers, and the inclusion of repetition forms are the key components of successful answers. Undergraduate ratings and subsequent analysis of TA responses indicate that successful TAs provide more information units than the lower-rated TAs. Furthermore, the highly-rated TAs also utilize discourse markers and repetition forms when responding to undergraduate questions.

International Teaching Assistants and Minority Students: The Two Sides of Cultural Diversity in American Higher Education                 17
By Susan Jenkins and Donald L. Rubin
The attitudes of 60 Chinese international teaching assistants and 42 American teaching assistants were compared in their evaluations of a mathematics quiz putatively taken by culturally diverse undergraduates. Each TA viewed a photograph of either a mainstream North American, African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, or Chinese undergraduate student before grading the quiz and responding to a questionnaire about their academic expectations for the student. Results showed that neither group manifested prejudicial grading practices but that Chinese ITAs were less ethically tolerant and had more rigorous, grading standards than ATAs. Implications for TA and cultural diversity training on campuses are discussed.

The Teaching Associate Program: A Collaborative Approach         25
By Lavon Gappa
Developing a program which prepares teaching assistants not only for immediate responsibilities but for future careers as college and university professors is a challenge to those whose business it is to respond to the concerns of their institutions. This article describes a collaborative approach which fuses discipline-focused departmental training with the research and instructional skills expertise of a university-wide program. Understanding the value placed on department ownership and on discipline-specific ways of knowing fits the university’s cultural assumption of teaching assistant training.

Training TAs in Disciplinary Clusters: A Cost-Effective Alternative to Departmental Programs        33
By Linda B. Nilson
Given that a few academic departments at the University of California, Riverside were training their TAs, the Graduate Division established a centralized unit in 1988 to provide required TA training. To ensure discipline-relevant training, the new unit developed “disciplinary cluster” seminars, each of which covers the teaching methods and formats that the cluster of fields share in common. As departments and TAs alike have praised the program, it offers other universities a cost-effective alternative to department programs. The article specifies how fields cluster and which topics should be covered for each cluster.

Investment in Teaching: Mentoring for Teaching Assistants         43
By Kathleen Smith
The University of Georgia invests in the development of teaching assistants by offering a variety of mentoring opportunities. Since 1990, Teaching Assistants who have been officially recognized at the university level for their outstanding teaching, and who intend to pursue a career in college teaching, are selected to participate in a year-long mentoring experience. The intent of the program is to support the career goals of outstanding TAs as they move toward faculty positions. In addition, these award winning TAs share their successful teaching strategies with new teaching assistants.

Resources           49

Upcoming Events             50

Bright Ideas        51

Feedback Please              53

From the Editor                60
By Karron G. Lewis
My thanks for everyone who has given us such positive feedback.

The Tutor as Creative Teacher: Balancing Collaborative and Directive Teaching Styles       61
By Susan E. Blalock
One-to-one tutoring techniques combined with training in classroom theory and practice can provide TAs with a variety of methods for teaching specific content. This article describes how TAs at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks are using what they have learned as writing tutors to provide variety and less directive approaches in their traditional classrooms.

Effective Use of Trained Teaching Assistants in Improving the Retention of University Students                 67
By Christopher F. Bolgiano and G. R. Horton
This paper provides guidance for those who want to impact undergraduate drop-out rates through the development of a retention-training program for graduate teaching assistants (TAs). A brief review of the current literature on retention is followed by a description of an interactive, one-hour training workshop designed specifically for new TAs. Program content includes identifying at-risk students, understanding the reasons behind undergraduate attrition, taking action to implement retention strategies, and referring students to other resources on campus. An analysis of the initial offering of the retention-training program is presented, including the results of session evaluation activities and a follow-up survey.

Establishing an Effective, Voluntary Teaching Assistant Training Program in a Large, Decentralized University Setting               75
By Judith S. Craig and Robert C. Ostergren
The authors describe a TA training program pre-semester workshop, led by graduate teaching fellows and available to both new and continuing teaching assistants. The program offers a mixture of generic advice and information about how teaching assistants cope with the myriad pressures and responsibilities that go with the job and a variety of optional workshops devoted to more specific issues and problems. The program is intended to complement and enhance existing department-level programs that focus on specific disciplinary concerns. It serves 400 to 500 participants annually.

Graduate Students as Instructional Consultants: Case Studies from Two universities        85
By Robert Petrulis, Stephen Carroll, and Lisa Skow
The role of instructional consultant is one which can be successfully fulfilled by graduate students. This article describes the roles and activities of graduate student instructional consultants at two different institutions and how their positions impact the institutions as well as their own teaching/learning careers.

Resources           95

Upcoming Events             96

Bright Ideas        98

Feedback Please              99

Models of an Oral Proficiency Program for ITAs  105
By Shirley E. Ostler and Marilyn Perlmutter
Bowling Green State University has operated a successful oral proficiency program for the International Teaching Assistants for six years. During this time, the program has gone through a number of changes, resulting in three different models. This paper provides a description of those models, including staffing assignments, and services provided to the ITAs. The factors which have remained constant are also given, as well as an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the overall program. Finally, there are some recommendations for those who would like to begin similar programs.

Teaching the Scientific Method: An Effective Way for Graduate Teaching Assistants to Experience the Lecture Hall           115
By James C. Gaither, Jr.
An excellent way for a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) to gain experience beyond the discussion session and laboratory section is to give a guest lecture to the entire class. The scientific method, as illustrated with the GTA’s own research, is an ideal topic. The GTA will bring confidence and enthusiasm to a presentation in which his/her research is a focal point, which enhances the probability of a positive experience for the GTA and attending students. This article provides a general outline of a slide/lecture presentation on the scientific method which could be used as a model by other GTAs. To illustrate the outline, I provide examples from a guest lecture on the scientific method I have given in a basic biology course for non majors.

Graduate Assistant Development: Problems of Role Ambiguity and Faculty Supervision                 119
By Lisa Duba-Biedermann
In this analysis of faculty members’ impact on GA role ambiguity the author recommends that training be developed to heighten faculty members’ awareness of their impact on the issue, that departments develop plans for assisting GAs to successfully meet their responsibilities and that supervisors and GAs be required to meet regularly.

College Teaching Periodicals: Resources for the Development of Graduate Student Instructors  127
By William E. Davis
Periodicals devoted to teaching are an important but underused resource for promoting the development of graduate students as instructors. Graduate students should be encouraged to become familiar with periodicals devoted to teaching in their discipline area and should be encouraged to share their observations, conclusions, activities and opinions with their colleagues through writing and submitting articles for publication.

Using Modeling to Develop Teaching Effectiveness and “Classroom Sense” in Graduate Teaching Assistants        131
By Judith R. Strozer
The demonstration class can be an extremely useful tool, when used in conjunction with others, for informing TAs about teaching and helping them to improve their own teaching. Attending a demonstration class may be a first step in the TA’s professional development, one that allows them to observe, reflect, compare, emulate and create, all in a supportive environment.

Resources           139

Upcoming Events             140

Bright Ideas        141

Feedback Please              143

Share It!