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Adding the Extra 5 Percent: Undergraduate TA's Creating Value in the Classroom

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

NEE - 3: Improving Homework and Problem-solving Performance

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

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Paper Authors


Alicia Baumann Arizona State University

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Ali Baumann received her master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wyoming before working as senior systems engineer at General Dynamics C4 Systems. She is now part of the freshman engineering education team in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. Currently, she focuses on enhancing the curriculum for the freshman engineering program to incorporate industry standards into hands-on design projects. She is an instructor for the Introduction to Engineering program, Engineering Transfer Success program, Engineering UGTA program, and the Electrical Engineering department at ASU. She is a 3-time winner of the "Fulton Top 5% Teaching Award" and 2-time winner of "Badass Women of ASU". Her philosophy boasts incorporating large scale systems engineering techniques into collegiate engineering curriculum to better prepare upcoming professionals and develop a student’s resume from day one.

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Stephanie M. Gillespie Arizona State University

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Stephanie Gillespie joined the ASU@EPICS program after finishing her Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She has extensive experience in K-12 outreach and curriculum development, and is passionate about giving students opportunities to make a difference throughout their academic career. As the EPICS Director of Instruction, Stephanie leads the EPICS program’s curriculum development, EPICS-Community College program, and program assessment efforts. She received her M.S.E.C.E. from Georgia Tech in 2013, and her B.S.E.E. from the University of Miami in 2012.

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Nicolle Sanchez Arizona State University

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Traditionally, professors provide all of the content and material for a classroom while completely under-utilizing their undergraduate teaching assistants (UGTAs). But what if the professor’s material provided students with 95% of the class experience, and a UGTA was able to give students an additional 5% above and beyond what the instructor can provide? UGTAs provide an insight into how students perceive the class and can become valuable assets into learning how to better reach the students. This paper details how the entrepreneurial mindset can be implemented to develop an undergraduate TA program. Using the entrepreneurial mindset (EM) philosophy as a guide, UGTAs are provided with choices that allow them to be curious about how to best reach students as well as give them experience in multiple different teaching practices. This program enforces the belief that UGTAs should be assisting in active learning settings, so that connections with students and faculty are the priority, as well as connecting students with resources, technologies, and each other. Finally, this program allows UGTAs to provide new context, skills, and techniques to the students in the classroom, reaching learners of all types and filling in any gaps left by the professor providing new value to the students to benefit. This program also provides the UGTA with opportunities to develop their own leadership, mentoring, and professorial accomplishments to highlight in their future employment searches.

This paper will highlight how to design a new program for maximizing the contribution of an undergraduate teaching assistant. Example assignments and lesson plans will be discussed to aid in the options available for teaching assistants to provide additional value to their students. These options range from exam review sessions to discussion board prompts to student conflict resolution. All options are chosen by the teaching assistant as part of their professorial mentoring to examine appropriate active learning activities. A survey at the end of the semester provides analysis into the comparisons of topics and assignments that were selected by the assistant, the differences in needs perceived by returning versus new assistants, and personal reflections on the meaningfulness of their experiences as an assistant.

Baumann, A., & Gillespie, S. M., & Sanchez, N. (2019, June), Adding the Extra 5 Percent: Undergraduate TA's Creating Value in the Classroom Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32037

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