The Journal of Graduate Teaching Assistant Development, Volume 3

Key Information

Volume 3, 1996, bound complete issues [ISSN: 1068-6096; 8-by-10-inch; ISBN: 1-58107-191-4] $22.95


The Contents

JTA03coverA Dozen Reasons Why We Should Prepare Graduate Students to Teach                5
By Marilla Svinicki
Graduate student lives are so packed with a concentration on their content that some faculty question the necessity of providing them with any preparation in teaching. This brief listing summarizes some of the reasons a department might include this preparation in its graduate program, not only for teaching assistants but possibly for all graduate students.

Mentoring Graduate Teaching Assistants: Creating an Effective Mentor/Mentee Relationship    9
By Penny Baldwin Avery
Mentoring may be a useful tool in enhancing GTA teaching and development. This article describes a rationale for and definitions of mentoring; presents a theoretical framework, based on the construct of modeling in social learning theory, from which the potential characteristics/behaviors of successful mentors can be viewed, and suggests ways these ideas can be applied to the GTA context.

Improving the Performance of Teaching Assistants through the Development and Interpretation of Informal Evaluations                 21
By Tino Bordonaro
Informal evaluations are strategies initiated by teaching assistants (TAs) to provide ongoing feedback on their performance. In this paper, TAs are encouraged to develop informal evaluation strategies that will enable them to collect feedback on their performance throughout the term. Examples of informal evaluation strategies that TAs can employ and further develop are presented and suggestions that can assist TAs in the interpretation of these informal evaluations are provided.

Mentor Selection and Use by First-Semester Graduate Teaching Assistants         27
By Scott A. Myers
This study explored the use of mentors selected by beginning graduate teaching assistants (GTAs). Respondents were 51 GTAs who had just completed the first semester of their assistantship at a large midwestern university. The results of the study indicate that for the most part, GTAs: (a) engage in mentoring relationships, (b) are active in the selection process of a mentor, (c) utilize mentors for a variety of reasons, and (d) find the mentor helpful. Moreover, GTAs reported that “professor” and “peer” are the persons most frequently selected to serve as a mentor.

Pedagogy of Contentment: A Multi-Case Study Graduate Teaching Assistant Induction 33
By Jon R. Poole and George Graham
The transition from undergraduate student to graduate teaching assistant is short and often proceeds without formal training. With increasing concern over graduate students teaching in higher education, calls for inservice teaching workshops intensify. In developing these workshops, key issues involve answering the questions: Would teaching assistants be receptive to a workshop and would they adopt suggested teaching skills? This study explored workshop receptivity and examined factors which promoted the adoption of the suggested skills. Based on a qualitative data analysis, the selected teaching assistants were receptive to the workshops and adopted the suggested teaching skills that matched their own unique model of effective teaching.

TA Talk 43
A column for the Graduate Teaching Assistant.

Resources           46

Upcoming Events             47

An Example of a Discipline-Specific Instructional Program for Graduate Teaching Assistants          53
By Penny L. Hammrich
The wide spread use of graduate teaching assistants as college teachers has created concern for their preparation. This article presents a model discipline-specific instructional program implemented at the University of Minnesota for graduate teaching assistants in biology. The instructional program was patterned after the literature that suggests instruction for teaching assistants should be discipline-specific so that teaching assistants gain an understanding of how to effectively communicate the knowledge of their field.

Challenges and Strategies for Helping GTAs Develop Teaching Portfolios               61
By Marsha L. Vanderford, James Eison, and Tonja Olive
This essay provides specific suggestions for the development of GTA teaching portfolios. The authors address four major assumptions found in the current portfolio literature and describe exercises and training activities for each assumption: 1) Teaching portfolios provide an opportunity for reflection. 2) Teaching dossiers serve a transformative function. 3) Instructors should demonstrate breadth and depth teaching experience in the documents. 4) Instructors should demonstrate independent contributions to teaching in their teaching dossiers. The essay is founded upon the presumption that successful GTA teaching portfolios are the result of proactive planning, feather than retrospection.

Preparing the University Professoriate for Tomorrow: An Integrated Approach to TA Education                 69
By Patricia D. Witherspoon and Joanne R. Gilbert
Teaching assistant education should be viewed as a process that prepares the future professoriate. This article presents an integrated approach to teaching assistant education that incorporates an organized, for-credit graduate course, workshops, a colloquium, and a mentoring program. This approach provides instructional activities that are complementary and designed to communicate an appreciation of teaching to those who will be its practitioners and leaders.

Mandating that New Teaching Assistants Enroll in a College Teaching Course       77
By Glenn Ross Johnson
Texas A&M University (a Carnegie Research University) established a policy that required all new teaching assistants (TAs) to attend a semester long course involving pedagogy. This case study describes the feelings and reactions of eight TAs in a college of education who were required to enroll in a semester long college teaching course.

TA Talk 82
A column for the Graduate Teaching Assistant.

A Teaching Story for Future Professors 89
By Thomas B. Jones
As the story of this professor’s early adventures in the classroom attests, success as a college teacher is not easily earned. Future professors need to start working on good teaching before the dissertation is done and the resumes are in the mail.

Increasing the Teaching Skills of Teaching Assistants Through Feedback from Observation of Classroom Performance     95
By Brian Fowler
Two of the main problems facing inexperienced Teaching Assistants are: to be able to break away from the “teach as they were taught” syndrome and develop their own style of teaching, and to quickly develop confidence in their teaching ability. One way of helping them to develop these characteristics is to provide expert feedback from observation of their classroom teaching. This article therefore looks specifically at the literature on the use of classroom observation techniques for formative purposes and applies it to the specific situation of assisting inexperienced Teaching Assistants. The main strengths and limitations of using observations by colleagues and by instructional development specialists to provide feedback about teaching are outlined. Some principles and suggestions for maximizing the validity and usefulness of the resulting feedback are suggested from a review of the literature and from the author’s experience.

‘Volunteer Teaching’ on the University Campus: The Controversy and the Need for Recognition and Study           105
By Barry Mowell
On many campuses, graduate students volunteer their time to serve as “volunteer TA’s”, assuming part of their departments undergraduate courseload in order to gain the experience and knowledge of subject matter. Such arrangements are potentially advantageous to both the student and the academic program and as such, deserve the attention of the higher education community.

The Impact of Teaching Assistants’ Conceptions on College Science Teaching       109
By Penny L. Hammrich
The purpose of this study was to examine teaching assistants’ conceptions of the nature of teaching after they were taught a specific pedagogical strategy directly related to their subject matter. Four teaching assistants, who taught the non-majors biology laboratories, Biology 1201, at the University of Minnesota participated in this study. The teaching assistants participated in sixteen hours of pre-quarter instruction, plus weekly three hour pre-laboratory instruction and taught a total of ten laboratories throughout the quarter. The teaching assistants conceptions of the nature of teaching science were examined before and after the instruction and teaching the laboratories by interviews. The comparison between pre- and post-conceptions revealed that the teaching assistants conceptions of the nature of teaching science changed dramatically after participating in the instruction and teaching the laboratories toward a conception the pedagogical strategies are directly related to subject matter knowledge.

TA Talk
A column for the Graduate Teaching Assistant.


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