Title

Enhancing GTAs’ Teaching Effectiveness through a Professional Development Program: A case study of GTAs at Kansas State University

Location

Kansas State University-Manhattan Campus

Session Type

Poster

Session Abstract

An unfortunate assumption within higher education is that anyone with an advanced degree can also be an effective teacher. Indeed, a teacher’s degree level has tended to be the most widely studied metric of his/her educational attributes. However, research has demonstrated that a teacher’s degree level has little to do with his/her students’ educational performance (e.g., Goldhaber, 2002). Aside from possessing an advanced degree, there also appears to be an implicit assumption that someone with an advanced degree most likely has teaching experience by means of a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) position, thus further qualifying him/her to teach at the collegiate level. Although having a GTA position may offer beneficial teaching experience, this cannot be considered a formal training program. Related to this point, Savage and Sharpe (1998) argue that there are relatively few sources of formal GTA training with higher education and equate the first year of teaching for many GTAs as a “survival stage” (p. 130), referring to the tendency for new GTAs to be “thrown-in” to the classroom and expected to teach well.

Although some institutions may consider one’s experiences as a GTA to be sufficient training in the domain of teaching and learning, some (e.g., Ke, Lee, & Xu, 2016; Lumsden, Grosslight, Loveland, & Williams, 1988; Moore, 2005) contend that training programs targeted toward GTAs can have a meaningful impact on an individual’s development as a teaching scholar in higher education. For instance, our institution currently employs a GTA training model which (a) incorporates a number of workshops wherein faculty members from around our campus are invited to speak with our students on a number of important issues related to teaching and learning (e.g., student engagement, assessment) and (b) requires students to complete an observation component such that each student must be observed teaching by a peer and must also observe a peer’s teaching. Furthermore, GTAs are provided with incentives to complete this training program such that each student who completes at least 10 workshops (see Figure 1) and completes the observation component (see Figure 2) is awarded a GTA Professional Development Certificate of Completion.

In a previous investigation (Rai & Fallin, 2014), we found that GTAs who completed our professional development program had a heightened sense of confidence in their teaching abilities following our program. However, we have yet to investigate whether or not participation in our program is having an effect on our GTAs’ overall effectiveness as instructors. Therefore, our goal for the present study was to analyze several years’ worth of data for those with whom we have teacher evaluations (i.e., TEVLAS) for both before and after participation in our program.

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Enhancing GTAs’ Teaching Effectiveness through a Professional Development Program: A case study of GTAs at Kansas State University

Kansas State University-Manhattan Campus

An unfortunate assumption within higher education is that anyone with an advanced degree can also be an effective teacher. Indeed, a teacher’s degree level has tended to be the most widely studied metric of his/her educational attributes. However, research has demonstrated that a teacher’s degree level has little to do with his/her students’ educational performance (e.g., Goldhaber, 2002). Aside from possessing an advanced degree, there also appears to be an implicit assumption that someone with an advanced degree most likely has teaching experience by means of a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) position, thus further qualifying him/her to teach at the collegiate level. Although having a GTA position may offer beneficial teaching experience, this cannot be considered a formal training program. Related to this point, Savage and Sharpe (1998) argue that there are relatively few sources of formal GTA training with higher education and equate the first year of teaching for many GTAs as a “survival stage” (p. 130), referring to the tendency for new GTAs to be “thrown-in” to the classroom and expected to teach well.

Although some institutions may consider one’s experiences as a GTA to be sufficient training in the domain of teaching and learning, some (e.g., Ke, Lee, & Xu, 2016; Lumsden, Grosslight, Loveland, & Williams, 1988; Moore, 2005) contend that training programs targeted toward GTAs can have a meaningful impact on an individual’s development as a teaching scholar in higher education. For instance, our institution currently employs a GTA training model which (a) incorporates a number of workshops wherein faculty members from around our campus are invited to speak with our students on a number of important issues related to teaching and learning (e.g., student engagement, assessment) and (b) requires students to complete an observation component such that each student must be observed teaching by a peer and must also observe a peer’s teaching. Furthermore, GTAs are provided with incentives to complete this training program such that each student who completes at least 10 workshops (see Figure 1) and completes the observation component (see Figure 2) is awarded a GTA Professional Development Certificate of Completion.

In a previous investigation (Rai & Fallin, 2014), we found that GTAs who completed our professional development program had a heightened sense of confidence in their teaching abilities following our program. However, we have yet to investigate whether or not participation in our program is having an effect on our GTAs’ overall effectiveness as instructors. Therefore, our goal for the present study was to analyze several years’ worth of data for those with whom we have teacher evaluations (i.e., TEVLAS) for both before and after participation in our program.

http://newprairiepress.org/isitl/2017/Posters/1