May 21st at 4:00 pm in Milam 215, ESTEME@OSU and Dr. Eric Weber will host Dr. Jess Ellis of Colorado State University. Dr. Ellis will present her research focusing on GTA’s development as innovative instructors while discussing two models of PD Programs that support them, as both primary instructors and recitation leaders, in enacting successful student-centered instruction.
Abstract: Supporting Graduate Students as Innovative Instructors
While the demand for qualified Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) students is rising, we still face high rates of attrition within these fields. Introductory, prerequisite courses are identified as contributing to students’ decisions to disengage from their STEM pursuits, with students specifically citing poor teaching as a leading component of their negative experiences. Research consistently points to the benefits of student-centered instruction, with work at the undergraduate level indicating that this is a viable and promising direction for improving instruction in introductory STEM courses. The benefits of such instruction include deeper student learning (Kwon, Rasmussen, & Allen, 2005; Larsen, Johnson, & Bartlo, 2013) as well as improved students’ dispositions towards the content domains and persistence in their STEM pursuits (Laursen, Hassi, Kogan, & Weston, 2014; Rasmussen & Ellis, 2013). Graduate student Teaching Assistants (GTAs) contribute to instruction in two ways: as the primary teacher and as recitation leaders. Although graduate students often come into these multiple roles with limited experience or preparation, they are a vital resource for improving STEM education and implementing research-based, innovative instruction (Seymour, 2005). In this presentation, I discuss two models of GTA Professional Development (PD) programs that support graduate students in enacting student-centered instruction at institutions identified as having successful Calculus I programs. I introduce a framework for GTA PD to describe and compare the models. The framework attends to: (a) the institutional and departmental environments, (b) the institutional and departmental cultures, (c) the overall structure of the PD programs, (d) the different types of knowledge emphasized through the programs (Ball, Thames, & Phelps, 2008) and the different types of pedagogies of practice graduate students engage in during the programs (Grossman et al., 2009).