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First-year Engineering Teaching Assistant Training: Examining Different Training Models and Teaching Assistant Empowerment

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

First-year Programs Division: Best Papers

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Andrew H. Phillips Ohio State University

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Andrew H. Phillips graduated summa cum laude from The Ohio State University in May 2016 with a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering and with Honors Research Distinction. He is currently finishing his M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and then he will pursue a Ph.D. in Engineering Education. His engineering education interests include first-year engineering, active learning, learning theory, and teaching design, programming, and mathematics. As a Graduate Teaching Associate for the Fundamentals of Engineering for Honors program, he is heavily involved with developing and teaching laboratory content, leading the maintenance of the in-house robotics controller, and managing the development of the robotics project.

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Krista M. Kecskemety Ohio State University

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Krista Kecskemety is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Department of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University. Krista received her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering at The Ohio State University in 2006 and received her M.S. from Ohio State in 2007. In 2012, Krista completed her Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at Ohio State. Her engineering education research interests include investigating first-year engineering student experiences, faculty experiences, and the connection between the two.

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David A. Delaine Ohio State University

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Dr. David A. Delaine is an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University Department of Engineering Education. Within this newly formed department he strives to creatively impact society through investigating the intersections of engineering, education, and social need through research on community engagement and collaborative processes within informal learning. He has obtained a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Drexel University, in Philadelphia, USA and served as a Postdoctoral Fulbright Scholar at the Escola Politécnica da Universidade de São Paulo. Dr. Delaine is a co-founder and past president of the Student Platform for Engineering Education Development (SPEED) and has served two terms as an executive member of the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies (IFEES) as a Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion. He is investigating university-community engagement as empowerment settings and working to further the research agenda of the global community of practice within Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering Education. His research laboratory aims to support an inclusive, global pipeline of STEM talent and to unify the needs of the engineering education stakeholders in order for engineering education to more accurately reflect societal needs. Diversity and inclusion, university/community engagement, informal learning, action research, and student led initiatives fall within the scope of his academic endeavors.

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This Complete Evidence-based Practice paper highlights the training of teaching assistants (TAs) and analyzes teaching assistant empowerment in the classroom. This study was conducted at The Ohio State University, where undergraduate teaching assistants are used in the first-year engineering classes. There are teaching assistants for both the honors and standard versions of the classes, and each year, there are both new and returning teaching assistants. Training for these teaching assistants has changed over the years and the first-year engineering program is looking for ways to assess the impact of training. Empowerment is used as a frame for analysis of teaching assistant performance in the classroom. Intrapersonal, interactional, and behavioral components of empowerment theory are used to map the training aspects to desired teaching assistant outcomes. By this mapping, higher levels of empowerment lead to better teaching assistant performance for students. It is the goal of the program being studied to prepare teaching assistants to be successful in the classroom with students, and training is one of the tools that is meant to help achieve that goal. A survey was developed to look at empowerment in teaching assistants based Frymier's Learner Empowerment survey. This survey showed that teaching assistants perceived high levels of empowerment and the three subscales of competence, impact, and meaningfulness. Results indicate returning teaching assistants had a higher average empowerment, competence, and impact score compared to new teaching assistants. The honors engineering teaching assistants had a higher average meaningfulness score compared to the standard engineering teaching assistants. This survey can be useful in the future as changes are made to the teaching assistant roles and training to see if it has an impact on their empowerment while instructing in the classroom.

Phillips, A. H., & Kecskemety, K. M., & Delaine, D. A. (2018, June), First-year Engineering Teaching Assistant Training: Examining Different Training Models and Teaching Assistant Empowerment Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30522

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