June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Graduate Studies and Student
22.509.1 - 22.509.15
Doctoral students as course instructors: Three engineering teaching assistants’ socialization experiencesThe purpose of this study was to explore and understand the types of socialization experiencesthat result from engineering graduate teaching assistants’ (TAs) roles as course instructors.Socialization refers to an individual’s process of becoming a part of a group. In the context ofdoctoral education, socialization can be a complex area to study, largely because there are manyroles and groups for which graduate students can be socialized. Adding to the complexity is thatall disciplines and all graduate programs are different, and socialization processes will mainlydepend on each department’s culture and each profession’s values. As such, it is necessary toconsider these differences in order to understand what graduate students need to know and whatvalues they are expected to adopt; that is, the context of the discipline and graduate programneeds to be considered when looking at socialization.Studies have looked at socialization experiences in the humanities and sciences, but engineeringseems to be a neglected field. Using situated learning, more specifically the communities ofpractice (CoP) literature, as the theoretical framework, this study looked at how three doctoralengineering TAs, with experience as course instructors, become members of the CoP that isacademia. This study was guided by the following research questions: 1) What socializationexperiences do doctoral engineering TAs report going through as a result of working as courseinstructors? 2) What recommendations to improve the TA experience emerge from this study?Data were collected in the form of interviews (individual and focus group, with participants fromtwo schools of engineering at a Midwestern university), informal observations, and supportingdocuments. Using grounded theory and content analysis, these multiple data sources wereanalyzed and triangulated to find recurring themes. Results indicated several categories ofsocialization experiences, as characterized by the three TAs. These categories included thefollowing: 1) participation in TA training of different kinds; 2) interactions with different groupsof individuals; 3) the undertaking of various types of TA responsibilities; 4) the balancing ofteaching and research; and 5) the use and development of certain skills. Implications from thestudy suggest the need for a progressive TA model, in which TAs are given more responsibilitiesduring specific stages of their program, culminating with the opportunity to be course instructors.
Mena, I. B., & Diefes-Dux, H. A., & Capobianco, B. (2011, June), Doctoral Students as Course Instructors: Three Engineering Teaching Assistants’ Socialization Experiences Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/17790
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