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Innovative Training Strategy (Its) For Teaching Assistants

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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

Innovation and Measuring Success in Graduate Education

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.744.1 - 15.744.11



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Paper Authors

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Robert Brooks Temple University

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Tony Singh Temple University

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Hossein Rostami Philadelphia University

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Fernando Tovia Philadelphia University

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Amithraj Amavasai Temple University

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

Innovative Training Strategy (ITS) For TAs Abstract

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Temple University offers an Environment Course to approximately 400 students (20 sections) every semester. An experiment was carried out during Fall 2007. During that semester, a control group of 8 teaching assistants (TAs) were given a manual on the 3 labs to be conducted. The TAs demonstrated the experiment and the students were asked to replicate the demonstration. This was the traditional method. Many students complained of lack of individual focus. 12 TAs were trained to use the new methodology in the first week of Spring 2008 and Fall 2008. All the TAs used the new methodology during the 2 semesters.

The steps in the new methodology included watching a trained presentation, engaging the students in group discussions, staying with the group while they perform the experiment, developing a rubric for evaluation of student reports, providing a link between experiments and theory, and helping the students to pick up a lifelong learning objective. The course content and the laboratory experiments include concepts on how students contribute personally throughout their lives to reduce the carbon footprint and maintain a safe, sustainable and healthy environment. Students are encouraged to choose at least one concept to take up in their life. Except for these steps, there was no difference between the control group and ITS group.

The students were asked to rank the overall performance of the TAs and overall learning experience in the labs on a scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (excellent). TAs were asked to rank the overall job satisfaction and evaluate the performance of the students. A rubric was provided to the TAs to evaluate the performance of the students. The improvements in all the seven performance indices over the control group were determined using t tests. The improvements in all the 7 indices were statistically significant at an alpha value of 0.05. Among the seven indices, improvement in TAs evaluating the performance of the students, which the authors consider to be the most important among the indices, was ranked the highest. In this category, the control group had scored 61% on the average whereas the ITS group scored 76%. The ITS group showed a 24.6% improvement over the control group.

The innovative strategy can be applied to other science and engineering courses. The authors plan to extend this strategy to 3 other courses over the next 3 years. The method presented in this study may be used at other institutions with appropriate modifications in order to engage our students to learn the laboratory experiments.


TAs have been traditionally used in many universities worldwide for student learning. According to Brooks, et al1-3 as we learn more about the performance of TAs, the weakness of traditional methods employed by them becomes more and more clear. These authors stated that most of the

Brooks, R., & Singh, T., & Rostami, H., & Tovia, F., & Amavasai, A. (2010, June), Innovative Training Strategy (Its) For Teaching Assistants Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15813

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