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Developing Graduate Training Programs

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.150.1 - 1.150.9



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Paper Authors

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R. H. Parsons

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S.J. Steiner

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K C Dee

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G. Judd

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2655

Developing Graduate Training Programs

R. H. Parsons, J. Steigler, K C Dee, G. Judd

Graduate School/Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


Training Teaching Assistants (TAs) how to teach is a process that should continue throughout a student’s tenure as a graduate student. In planning training programs the needs of the undergraduates as well the needs of the graduate students should be considered. The organizational framework, however, is just as important. Who will initiate programs, who will fund them? Who will run them, department, or Institute? At Rensselaer, the graduate school has struck a balance between the department and Institute. This balance allows the Graduate School to run institutional wide orientation sessions and be a consultant for departmental run TA training seminars. In this paper, we describe how the needs of the undergraduates were determined and incorperated into our orientation programs. We will also illustrate two programs: International Teaching Assistant (ITA) English class, and a mathematics teaching assistant (TA) training seminar, that have used the Graduate School for assistance in implementing their programs. What is Important to Undergraduates?

A critical component in developing a teaching program is to determine what it is that the students need from their TAs. In order to assess the needs of our undergraduates, we surveyed students enrolled in a course titled "Introduction to Engineering Analysis" in the fall of 1993. Roughly 680 freshman engineering students (about 96% of the engineering class of 1997) had the opportunity to respond to the survey. The survey was intended to gauge undergraduate opinion about the general performance of RPI Teaching Assistants.

The survey consisted of a qualitative, short-answer section where students were asked open-ended questions about the individual "best" and "worst" TAs they interacted with. Below are the questions from the survey, followed by the overall responses from the undergraduates.

1. What qualities does your best TA have? 2. What qualities does your worst TA have? 3. Are either your best or your worst TAs international TAs? 4. What do you think are the top three things a TA should know how to do?

The following characteristics were repeatedly attributed to the "best" TAs.

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Parsons, R. H., & Steiner, S., & Dee, K. C., & Judd, G. (1996, June), Developing Graduate Training Programs Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--5976

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