The Journal of Graduate Teaching Assistant Development, Volume 8

Key Information

Volume 8, 2001, bound complete issues [ISSN: 1068-6096; 8-by-10-inch; ISBN: 1-58107-186-8] $22.95


The Contents

JTA08coverPursuing a Faculty Position in the Sciences            5
By Nancy C. Hinkle
Students job-seeking in the sciences need to consider” all components of the search, in order to maximize their chances of getting the job they want. The application process involves constructing a strong curriculum vitae, preparing for a positive interview, and presenting a powerful seminar: Applicants should consider beforehand questions they may be posed during the interview, as well as information they should seek from the hosting institution. The purpose is to convince the department that you are the individual best qualified for the position.

Effective Instruction: A synthesis of Research-Based Principles for GTAs                 13
By Edwin G. Ralph
This synthesis derived from the body of literature on effective teaching and on learning motivation consolidates the current and best knowledge available for post-secondary educators interested in instructional improvement. The author presents ten key motivating principles, which have been grounded both in the related research and in the daily routines of post-secondary instruction. GTAs and other” interested educators may use this summary to inform their instructional practice, as they ever pursue the challenge of motivating students in their courses and programs.

Preparing the Professoriate: Instructional Design Training for GTAs           21
By John E. Burk
Graduate teaching assistant training and development programs use a variety of strategies to inculcate teaching assistants into the professoriate. An essential component of training GTAs to become successful teachers is instructional design. Instructional design is a systematic process and framework that GTAs can use to plan, deliver, and assess the courses they teach. Unfortunately, instructional design is not always part of GTA training programs but can complement and support any training program. The instructional design process, specifically the Gagne, Briggs, and Wager (1992) Events of Instruction, are described and applied to a topic to demonstrate its utility. Directors and supervisors of GTA programs can use the information to integrate instructional design training into existing programs. Instructional design training can provide GTAs with the skills and knowledge to blend content with sound instructional practices that enhance learning outcomes.

Tangrams for Improving Instructional Skills            27
By Dean Papajohn
One important goal of teachers is to communicate new information to students. While teaching is a challenge for anyone, international teaching assistants (1TAs) have the added concern of communicating in a second language and culture (Bauer 1991). This article presents an active learning metaphor to teach communication strategies, such as options for beginning, providing an overview, defining terminology, sectioning information into parts, making connections, utilizing a reference point, and verifying assumptions. These strategies are then related to the findings stemming from research on the discourse of TAs and 1TAs. This active learning metaphor can encourage new instructors, especially international TAs, to think about the background knowledge of their audience and what communication strategies are useful in teaching new information.

Changing Roles for the Teaching Assistant: A Workshop Plan       33
By Philip E. Johnson
The author presents a “how to” plan addressing a workshop for a group of TAs, from a variety of disciplines, to help them learn more interactive teaching methods with less reliance on the lecture; methods that can help their students to become learners.

Psychology Graduate Teaching Assistants’ Preferences for Supervisory Style        37
By Loreto R. Prieto, Karen R. Seheel and Steven A. Meyers
We surveyed a national sample of l 76 psychology GTAs to determine their preferences with regard to the supervisory styles used by their course supervisors. Results indicated that psychology GTAs primarily preferred a collegial style of supervision, as opposed to a primarily task-oriented or interpersonally sensitive style.

Factors Affecting the Congruence of Beliefs about Teaching and Classroom Practices of GTAs in Elementary Foreign Language Courses            45
Michael Morris
This paper reports the findings of a qualitative study that examines the congruence of professed beliefs about teaching and observed instructional practices of four GTAs teaching in an Elementary French program at a large state university. While tile GTAs expressed clear beliefs about how they thought languages should be taught, their classroom practices were often at odds with those beliefs. They attributed this lack of congruence to difficulties that originate in various sources related to their status as students and novice instructors. The paper concludes that in their research about the factors that influence the development of beliefs and instructional practices of GTAs working in elementary foreign language program is important to help them become more effective classroom instructors.

Building Bridges: Improving the Teaching Practices of TAS in the Mathematics Department            55
Jean McGivney-Burelle, Thomas C. DeFranco, Charles I. Vinsonhaler, and Kimberly B. Santucci
During Fall 2000, a multi-year study was initiated to investigate the ways in which a mathematics pedagogy course challenged teaching assistants” (7″As) beliefs about the teaching and learning of mathematics and informed their teaching practice. Approximately 22 TAs and 5faculty members from both the mathematics department and the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut participated in the course. A cyclical process of classroom activities and discussion and the TAs’ teaching practice and reflection served as a basis for instruction. Several sources of data were collected throughout the course, including interviews, journal entries, questionnaires, and classroom observations. Qualitative analysis of the data indicated that: (1) the TAs adopted a different set of beliefs about the teaching and learning of mathematics, and (2) a number of constraints (e.g., institutional, cultural, and a lack of appropriate models of teaching) acted as barriers prohibiting the TAs from changing their instructional practice. Redesigned course syllabi, teaching mentors, and examples of effective teaching practice will be incorporated in the course and investigated during the next phase of the study.

Creating Community among the Graduate Teaching Assistants: Benefits, challenges, and lessons learned              65
Marina Milner-Bolotin
The paper describes a case study of creating a teaching community among the graduate teaching assistants in a physics department at a major research university. This case study has shown that graduate teaching assistants themselves can start a change in the culture of teaching, contributing to their satisfaction from teaching as well as undergraduate education.

International Teaching Assistant Programs and World Englishes Perspective         71
Tae-I Pae
This paper explores the need of implementing World Englishes (WE) perspective into an International Teaching Assistant (1TA) Program. In the traditional 1TA programs where 1TA speech is typically viewed as interlanguage (i.e. from a Deviational/Deficit perspective), it is often suggested that focus should be given to fixing 1TAs ‘communicative strategies and to possible Americanization on the part of lTAs. However; according to the WE perspective marked by a “repertoire of models for English, “”and new views on “English ownership ” and “mutual intelligibility,” it is argued that intelligibility is dependent upon interaction between speaker and listener; thereby rendering an effective communication between 1TAs and undergraduate students a shared responsibility.

E-mail Chronicles of a New Instructor     77
Dean Papajohn and Zhiying Cao
Graduate programs are increasingly interested in preparing graduate students as future faculty and professionals. A teaching assistantship combined with mentoring can help advance a graduate student from learner to colleague. Electronic mail opens new ways for mentoring graduate students. This article discusses e-mails between a graduate student and mentor on separate campuses that illustrate various characteristics of the stages of teacher development.

Pivotal Events in Graduate Teacher Preparation for a Faculty Career         97
Kathleen S. Smith
Graduate programs can help future faculty become knowledgeable and successful participants of academic cultures by providing experiences which reflect the reality of faculty roles. This paper discusses the pivotal events in the graduate teaching experience which contribute positively and negatively to the professional development of teacher scholars. The study assessed the value of graduate school teaching experiences at a Research I institution from the perspective of new faculty who have moved to a variety of institutions to begin their careers in higher education. Assessing graduate school teaching opportunities and the impact these opportunities have on new faculty careers helped to focus graduate student support in preparing future faculty for teaching roles.

Encouraging Professional Training of Graduate Teaching Assistants           107
Ernie Barrington
Not all Graduate Teaching Assistants become academics, but a large number of academics have been GTA’s during their time as graduate students. Whilst it may sometimes be difficult to get new academic appointees to attend teaching skills development courses, GTAs will often readily attend them. Indeed, their employment sometimes depends on this. This paper describes a training program for GTAs (called tutors in New Zealand) and comments on a survey that showed that support for such training across the campus was inconsistent. The on-going challenge is convincing not GTAs of the efficacy of a training program, but some of the “decision makers” within their respective departments.

Understanding the Experiences of Teaching Assistant Peer Coordinators               115
Erin Joyce Arantowicz and Lara Lomicka
In this article, the authors attempt to make sense of their own experiences as peer coordinators of multi-sectioned foreign language courses; more specifically the authors discuss the advantages and challenges to an administrative structure in which more experienced TAs serve as peer coordinators to faculty supervisors and aid in the administrative tasks of supervision, including observations and evaluations of TAs. The article ends with a call for further definition of the roles that TAs could be asked to play and urges closer communication between peer coordinators and faculty supervisors.

‘I’m Fooling Them All:’ The Examination of the Impostor Phenomenon in the Undergraduate Instructor Assistant Experience          123
Dr. Paul D. Turman
The impostor phenomenon is a term first used by Clance and lines (1978) to describe highly successful individuals who have strong feelings of fraudulence and low levels of self-esteem about their achievements. The individuals who score high on tests that measure this phenomenon believe they have been fooling everyone (colleagues, friends, professors) and have high levels of anxiety caused by intense fears about being found out by those around them. With tire increased use of undergraduate instructor assistants in the basic course at a number of institutions, it may be evident that undergraduates placed in the position of evaluating their peers may have an increased anxiety and feelings of fraudulence associated with the impostor phenomenon. If this is trite then their ability to successfully evaluate their fellow undergraduates may be compromised. This study sought to identify training strategies to reduce levels of the impostor phenomenon in instructor assistants used in the basic course. Results indicate significant differences in the use of reading supplements and discussion, however, causing an increase in instructor assistants’ levels of the impostor phenomenon.

Beyond This Week’s Lab: Integrating Long-Term Professional Development with Short-Term Preparation for Science Graduate Students          133
Catherine M. Ishikawa, Wendell H. Potter and William E. Davis
Departmental programs for teaching assistants often focus primarily on either short-term preparation for specific courses or on long-term professional development. As part of the continuing evolution of the Department of Physics’ program for new graduate student teaching assistants at the University of California, Davis, the authors designed a TA development course to meet both short- and long-term goals for graduate students teaching introductory physics discussion/labs. In designing the TA development course, they formulated guidelines for planning activities. These guidelines fall into two general categories-(1) familiarizing TAs with tools for improving their teaching in the future, and (2) creating flexible activities that meet multiple goals at multiple levels. Tile guidelines are general enough that TA developers at other institutions and in other disciplines can use them in planning their TA development courses. This paper describes the guidelines and provides examples of activities that the guidelines inspired.