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GTA Training Project

Project Links

Available Instructional Resources

  • Template for a GTA Training Program Manual. This document provides examples of topics that might or should be included in basic GTA training. The outline must be revised to address locally important topics, and describe local policies and procedures..

 


Summary

This project promoted active teaching and learning practices through training & professional development for graduate teaching assistants (GTAs). Our project materials and resources continue to be available, but the project itself has merged with the BioTAP Network, a national organization focusing on training and evaluation of GTAs’ knowledge and skills, teaching practices, and impact on undergraduates.

Goals of This Project

The GTA Training Project began as an action research initiative looking into 4 general areas:

Mindset

What do GTAs know in relation to their professional responsibilities?

  • What pedagogical knowledge, skills do they bring forward from past experiences?
  • What are their attitudes and beliefs about teaching, learning, self-efficacy, motivation?

Actualized Teaching Practice

How do GTAs approach these key areas of their teaching practice?

  • Planning for instruction (ex.: do they follow backward design?)
  • Enacting instructional best practices (ex.: do GTAs adopt active, inquiry-based teaching if given opportunities and support?)
  • Assessment (ex.: do GTAs use scoring rubrics appropriately; how do divergent behaviors affect inter-grader reliability?)

Professional Enculturation

From historical and preliminary data we know GTAs are unlikely to adopt novel instructional practices that they themselves did not experience as students. This raises interesting questions about the origins of their resistance. Looking through the lens of diffusion of innovation theory, do novice post-secondary teachers resist change because they: 1) lack the confidence to implement new methods; 2) lack the firsthand experience needed to visualize how to implement it; 3) have not seen it enacted by someone they trust; or 4) some combination of these factors?

Other questions of interest:

  • Which sources of information and support do new GTAs use most often and most intensively as they develop their teaching practice: near peers, formal training, just-in-time training, or online/digital support? Which are treated as most reliable?
  • How quickly do GTAs adopt technology resources to support teaching? Can GTAs integrate digital supports appropriately and accurately? If not, what are their primary barriers to doing so?
  • How do GTAs’ past experiences and biases affect enculturation to and adoption of evidence-based teaching strategies? Do GTAs’ own past experiences create bias for or against specific teaching methods or practices? For or against nationally recognized principles of practice?

Impacts on Students

How do GTAs’ behaviors, actions affect undergraduates:

  • Knowledge, skills gains
  • Retention
  • Attainment
  • Interest
  • Undergraduate self-efficacy