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Assessing Inclusive Teaching Training of Graduate Student Instructors in Engineering

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Faculty Development Round Table

Tagged Division

Faculty Development Constituent Committee

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Paper Authors


Grenmarie Agresar University of Michigan

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Grenmarie Agresar is an instructional consultant at the Center for Research on Learning in Teaching in Engineering at the University of Michigan (U-M). She earned a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering and Scientific Computation, a M.S. in Bioengineering, a M.A. in Education, and a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, all from U-M. She is an experienced instructor (over 7 years to multiple age groups), and her interests include improving curriculum, and assessing student-instructor experiences and training.

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Stephanie Marie Kusano University of Michigan

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Stephanie Kusano is an assessment specialist at the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at University of Michigan. She has a Ph.D. in Engineering Education, M.S. in Biomedical Engineering, and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, all from Virginia Tech. Her research interests include engaged learning and high impact practices, assessment, and learning analytics. Her teaching experience has primarily been with first-year engineering.

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Tershia A. Pinder-Grover University of Michigan

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Tershia Pinder-Grover is the Director of the Center for Research on Learning in Teaching in Engineering (CRLT-Engin) at the University of Michigan (U-M). She coordinates initiatives for engineering faculty, develops workshops and seminars, and consults with faculty and graduate student instructors (GSIs) on a variety of pedagogical topics. Prior to joining CRLT-Engin, she earned her B.S. degree in Fire Protection Engineering from the University of Maryland and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the U-M. Her current research interests include graduate student professional development and the adoption of inclusive teaching practices for engineering instructors.

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This evidence-based practice paper describes a model for assessing and improving student instructor professional development in the College of Engineering (CoE) at a large research university. Student instructors are essential to the teaching team at many research institutions. Student instructors often lead laboratories, discussion sessions, and/or hold office hours; and are therefore the primary liaison between students and faculty. As such, they not only influence student learning, but they can also be agents of change and improve student retention [1]. Therefore, the training of student instructors is critical to enhancing the student experience as well as the classroom climate. Additionally, meaningful assessment of student instructor professional development is critical for ensuring quality of such training.

To support their key role in the teaching-learning environment, the CoE requires training of all student instructors. This training consists of two parts: a 7-hour orientation and an ongoing professional development during the term. The orientation begins with a session on inclusive teaching to align with the CoE strategic plan to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). It also contains a variety of pedagogical workshops and an opportunity to practice delivering a lesson to a small group of their peers. The ongoing professional development includes a variety of teaching activities along with reflective exercises.

To measure the effectiveness of the orientation, we developed an assessment model that goes beyond evaluations. Although satisfaction surveys have often been used to assess educational development programs, recent calls for more meaningful assessments of programs suggest that educational developers should also carefully design program assessments that are driven by program goals and desired outcomes.[2, 3]. Our goal was to obtain richer data that spoke specifically to program goals, while optimizing time and resource consumption. A pilot study was conducted last year, which included surveys and focus groups, to learn more about the experiences of student instructors and to see if the initial orientation was meeting their needs, particularly in terms of DEI. As a result of the pilot, we improved orientation materials (better integration of the principles of inclusive teaching and the science of learning throughout and providing more specific examples to help apply these ideas to their teaching practice) and streamlined our assessment protocol (reduced the number of questions using exploratory factor analysis, altered the delivery of the survey to increase response rate, leveraged targeted focus groups). This paper details the assessment approach, the improvements to the orientation, and the results of the assessment in this iteration of the action research. In addition, we discuss the next evolution of both the assessment approach and the training based on the new data collected.

A roundtable discussion is the preferred presentation format.

O’Neal, C., Wright, M., Cook, C., Perorazio, T., & Purkiss, J. (2007). The impact of teaching assistants on student retention in the sciences: Lessons for TA training. Journal of College Science Teaching, 36(5), 24-29.

Beach, A. L., Sorcinelli, M. D., Austin, A. E., & Rivard, J. K. (2016). Faculty development in the age of evidence: Current practices, future imperatives. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Muir, G. M. (2015). Mission-driven, Manageable and Meaningful Assessment of an Undergraduate Neuroscience Program. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 13(3), A198–A205.

Agresar, G., & Kusano, S. M., & Pinder-Grover, T. A. (2019, June), Assessing Inclusive Teaching Training of Graduate Student Instructors in Engineering Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32112

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