June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Educational Research and Methods
22.1097.1 - 22.1097.13
Need Assessment for TA Training: A Survey to Capture Particular Needs at an InstitutionA widely-acknowledged factor inhibiting education engineering reform, interfering withlearning, and reducing student retention is the inexperience and lack of pedagogical education ofmany instructors. This is particularly acute among graduate teaching assistants (GTAs), whooften contribute the majority of contact hours within engineering courses and may gain littlepedagogical content knowledge before they assume the role of primary instructor in graduateschool or their first academic appointment. Often their preparation is little more than a syllabusand the textbook. An important first step in addressing this issue for engineering educators,whose responsibility is to supervise and mentor GTAs, is to identify the factors to be consideredand assessed in developing an effective professional development program for GTAs.This paper provides strong motivation from existing literature for a need assessment tool as aprecursor to TA training. The paper describes the survey developed to gain the perspectives ofstudents, faculty, and GTAs as a precursor to developing a training program. All three groupsrated the importance they placed on each of 24 GTA roles and responsibilities on a 5 point Likertscale. GTAs and faculty also rated the GTAs’ competence on each of these categories on asimilar scale. Analysis of the data included an exploratory factor analysis and reliability tests toascertain the validity and reliability of the survey. Factor analysis was conducted with obliminrotation with the 24 items of GTA roles. The eigenvalue-greater-than-one rule was initially usedin combination with scree test to determine the number of factors that would appropriatelyrepresent the concept of GTA roles and responsibilities. The results indicated a four-factorstructure, accounting for approximately 48% of the total variance. Reliability coefficients withthe sample of this study for the overall measure and for the four subscales of the survey rangedbetween .82 and .93. Subsequent comparisons of GTA, student, and faculty responses wereanalyzed statistically using ANOVA. The results of the first round of administering the survey ata land-grant university in the Midwest showed that faculty ranked GTA competence lower thanthe GTAs did on all categories. On the importance ratings, GTAs placed significantly higherimportance on all categories of GTA roles and responsibilities than faculty and students did.Although the survey showed favorable psychometric properties, further testing is warranted toconfirm that the new measure of GTA’s need assessment can be used as a reliable and valid toolacross institutions. We plan to administer the survey to engineering GTAs in other institutionsand report the results at the conference. Finally, the paper will present qualitative feedbackobtained from each of the constituencies (students, GTAs, and faculty) conducted as a follow-upto the quantitative survey.The diverse needs, viewpoints, and perspectives of the three groups that were captured by thissurvey provide interesting insight and valuable data for designing a GTA training program. Weplan to invite other institutions to adopt it for guiding their TA training efforts.
Sohoni, S., & French, D. P., & Cho, Y. (2011, June), Need Assessment for TA Training: A Survey to Capture Particular Needs at an Institution Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18516
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