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Graduate Teaching Assistant Written Feedback on Student Responses to Problem Identification Questions within an Authentic Engineering Problem

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Training and Mentoring of Graduate Teaching Assistants

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.680.1 - 25.680.16



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Paper Authors


Raslinda Ghazali Purdue University

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Raslinda Ghazali is a second-year Ph.D. student at Purdue University. Ghazali's background is in tourism management with both bachelor's and master's in this area. Ghazali started to be involved in MEA research since a year ago due to an interest on qualitative study in behavioral research.

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Heidi A. Diefes-Dux Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Heidi A. Diefes-Dux is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her B.S. and M.S. in food science from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in food process engineering from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. She is a member of Purdue’s Teaching Academy. Since 1999, she has been a faculty member within the First-year Engineering program at Purdue, the gateway for all first-year students entering the College of Engineering. She has coordinated and taught in a required first-year engineering course that engages students in open-ended problem solving and design. Her research focuses on the development, implementation, and assessment of model-eliciting activities with realistic engineering contexts. She is currently the Director of Teacher Professional Development for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE).

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Graduate Teaching Assistant Written Feedback on Student Responses to Problem Identification Questions within an Authentic Engineering ProblemGraduate students are often provided little training on how to evaluate and providefeedback on student work. Yet they are often solely responsible for such grading tasks,particularly in large enrollment courses. This is particularly problematic when studentsare solving are authentic and open-ended problems. Such problems require interpretationof student work in order to provide feedback designed to improve student performanceand learning. This paper is concerned with graduate teaching assistants (GTAs)preparation and training for evaluating and providing written feedback on students’responses to problem identification questions within an authentic engineering problem.Model-Eliciting Activities (MEAs) are open-ended, team-oriented problems set inauthentic engineering contexts. These problems start with problem identificationquestions including: Q1) “Who is the client?” and Q2) “In one of two sentences, whatdoes the client need?”The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of GTA training on GTAs’ writtenfeedback on students’ individual responses to Q1 and Q2. The research questions thatguide this work are: 1) what is the nature of GTA feedback on problem identificationquestions? and 2) what is the source of the written feedback?GTAs’ written feedback on approximately 300 first-year engineering students’ responsesto Q1 and Q2 for one, and the same, MEA implemented in both the year prior to GTAtraining and in the first year of GTA training were analyzed. Open-coding wasperformed on the GTA feedback to characterize the feedback.It was confirmed that in the year prior to GTA training, no or little written feedback wasprovided. In the year of GTA training, for Q1, GTAs either did not write feedback orprovided an answer with little interpretation of students’ responses. For Q2, GTAs oftenprovided general guidance for developing a correct response with some instances ofinterpretation of students’ responses. The primary source of feedback was GTA trainingmaterials.GTA training had a positive impact on GTAs’ written feedback - there was significantlymore written feedback provided. However, evidence of interpretation of student workwas minimal. Future training needs to better highlight the need for engaging in moreinterpretation of students’ responses. Ultimately, GTA feedback needs to be related tostudents’ ability to perform problem identification in subsequent authentic problems.

Ghazali, R., & Diefes-Dux, H. A. (2012, June), Graduate Teaching Assistant Written Feedback on Student Responses to Problem Identification Questions within an Authentic Engineering Problem Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21437

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