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Development Of An Instrument To Collect Pedagogical Data From Graduate Teaching Assistants Within Engineering Laboratories

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Conference

2008 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Measuring Success of Graduate Program Components

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count

8

Page Numbers

13.420.1 - 13.420.8

DOI

10.18260/1-2--3660

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/3660

Download Count

166

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Paper Authors

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Nathan McNeill Purdue University

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Monica Cox Purdue University

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Heidi Diefes-Dux Purdue University

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Tenille Medley Purdue University

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Jeremi Hayes Purdue University

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

Development of an Instrument to Collect Pedagogical Data from Graduate Teaching Assistants within Engineering Laboratories

Abstract

Most graduate teaching assistants receive little or no pedagogical feedback on their instruction. This paper describes the first steps in the development of instruments to provide pedagogical feedback to engineering laboratory graduate teaching assistants. The project began with use of the VaNTH Observation System, a direct observation instrument which provides feedback about the extent to which an instructor’s interactions with students fit within the dimensions of the “How People Learn” framework, a model of effective teaching and learning as presented in the National Research Council monograph, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Preliminary findings revealed challenges to the use of this instrument in a first-year engineering laboratory course taught by graduate teaching assistants. To provide information for the adaptation of this instrument for use in the laboratory environment and to aid in developing new instruments, the graduate teaching assistants in this course were surveyed to determine their roles and assess the extent to which they employed a set of nineteen specific pedagogical activities representing good pedagogical techniques according to the “How People Learn” framework.

Background

Several studies have noted that graduate teaching assistants receive little or no pedagogical feedback on their instruction1-4. Torvi, in his 1994 study of thirteen engineering schools, found that only 45% of the engineering departments at these institutions had “some formal performance evaluation procedure” for graduate teaching assistants4. Luft et al. point out that the lack of feedback leads graduate teaching assistants to “make intuitive decisions, or decisions based on their own experience as students” resulting in teaching practices which are “often disconnected from the literature base in education.”1 The National Science Foundation funded project described in this paper seeks to develop theoretically-grounded instruments that provide pedagogical feedback to graduate teaching assistants about the quality of their instruction. This project began with the testing of a modified portion of the VaNTH Observation System (VOS)5-11. The VaNTH Engineering Research Center (an acronym based on the names of the member institutions: Vanderbilt University, Northwestern University, University of Texas at Austin, and the Harvard/Massachusetts Institute of Technology Division of Health Science and Technology) developed the VOS in 1999 for use in observing the pedagogy employed by instructors in bioengineering classrooms. The VOS provides feedback based on the “How People Learn” framework, a model of effective learning and teaching as presented in the National Research Council monograph, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School12. The “How People Learn” framework is composed of four dimensions which should all be present in an effective learning environment. These dimensions are knowledge-centeredness, learner- centeredness, assessment-centeredness, and community-centeredness.

McNeill, N., & Cox, M., & Diefes-Dux, H., & Medley, T., & Hayes, J. (2008, June), Development Of An Instrument To Collect Pedagogical Data From Graduate Teaching Assistants Within Engineering Laboratories Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3660

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