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Experiences Of Graduate Teaching Assistants In Engineering Laboratories: Content Analysis Using The “How People Learn” Framework

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.554.1 - 15.554.7



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Paper Authors


Jiabin Zhu Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Jiabin Zhu is a Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She obtained a B.S. in Physics from East China Normal University, a M.S. in Optics from Chinese Academy of Sciences, and a second M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Purdue University. Her primary research interests relate to the professional development and mentoring of engineering graduate students. She is a student member of American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

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Jonathan Hicks Purdue University

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Jonathan Hicks, is an undergraduate student in the College of Technology at Purdue University. He obtained an A.S. in information technology from Vincennes University. The concentration of his classes at Vincennes included web page design and computer programming. He is currently pursuing a B.S. in computer and information technology with a concentration in information systems. His activities include being a resident assistant, a member of an acting ensemble, and a member of the Minority Technology Association. Under the advisement of Monica F. Cox, Ph.D, and Jiabin Zhu, he has conducted research on a project that explores the effectiveness of engineering graduate courses in reference to pedagogy and the "How People Learn" framework towards engineering graduate students.

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Monica Cox Purdue University

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Monica F. Cox, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She obtained a B.S. in mathematics from Spelman College, a M.S. in industrial engineering from the University of Alabama, and a Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy Studies from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Teaching interests relate to the professional development of graduate engineering students and to leadership, policy, and change in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. Primary research projects explore the preparation of engineering doctoral students for careers in academia and industry and the development of engineering education assessment tools. She is a NSF Faculty Early Career (CAREER) award winner and is a recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

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Osman Cekic Purdue University

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Osman Cekic, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Research Assistant at Purdue University School of Engineering Education. Osman's research interests include higher education policy, finance and the linkages between budget and organizational culture, and college student retention. In his previous appointments, Osman has worked with the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and finance and financial aid data, and he continues to explore these subjects. He is also interested in engineering education culture as well as leadership and policy issues in engineering education.

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Rocio Chavela Guerra Purdue University

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Rocío C. Chavela is a doctoral candidate in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She obtained a B.S and a M.S. in chemical engineering from Universidad de las Américas, Puebla, Mexico. Her research interests involve faculty development, curriculum development, and engineering education research communities. She is an Engineering Education Graduate Fellow of the National Academy of Engineering's Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education (CASEE).

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

Experiences of Graduate Teaching Assistants in Engineering


Abstract In higher education, graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) have undertaken different instructional responsibilities, particularly in science and engineering laboratories. Herein, we utilized the How People Learn (HPL)1 labs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted among five GTAs who were selected purposefully from an engineering lab, enrolling approximately 1800 students, self-reflections regarding their teaching philosophies, practices, and experiences in instruction. Content analysis was conducted to examine how GTAs engaged with the four elements of the HPL framework (i.e., knowledge-, learner-, assessment- and community-centeredness) within their engineering laboratories. instructional practices in engineering labs and pr related to the HPL framework. This profile may be used for the future training and evaluation of GTAs to improve in course organization and aid in pedagogical development. Introduction

GTAs have taken an increasingly important role in higher education, especially in undergraduate teaching2. Major responsibilities of GTAs include helping faculty members with class instructions3, leading classroom discussions, coordinating lab sessions, leading office hours, and grading exams, projects, or assignments. Since 1999, the percentage of graduate teaching assistantships granted in science and engineering has increased by over 10%4. This increase highlights the necessity of GTA training and an evaluation of their teaching practices.

To explore current teaching practices of five first-year engineering GTAs, researchers analyzed

that categorizes classroom occurrences using four dimensions-knowledge-centeredness (KC), learner-centeredness (LC), assessment-centeredness (AC), and community-centeredness (CC). More specifically, researchers used the operationalized HPL framework provides a foundation for the teaching profiles of GTAs as framed within the context of the How People Learn

Literature Review

Pedagogical feedback to GTAs provides positive influences to GTAs and increases their teaching efficacy. Such feedback to GTAs might be offered by supervisors or coordinators5. Novice GTAs prefer direct and structured supervision, whereas experienced GTAs prefer interpersonal- -reflections offer opportunities for them to rate their confidence level before and after teaching6, 7. Evaluations from undergraduate students are provided via

Zhu, J., & Hicks, J., & Cox, M., & Cekic, O., & Chavela Guerra, R. (2010, June), Experiences Of Graduate Teaching Assistants In Engineering Laboratories: Content Analysis Using The “How People Learn” Framework Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16167

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015