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Need Assessment for TA Training: A Survey to Capture Particular Needs at an Institution

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Educational Research and Methods Potpourri I

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1097.1 - 22.1097.13



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Paper Authors


Sohum Sohoni Oklahoma State University

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Dr. Sohoni is an Assistant Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Oklahoma State University. He received his Ph.D. in computer engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 2004 and his Bachelors in electrical engineering from COEP, Pune University in 1998.
Dr. Sohoni’s research interests are broadly in the area of computer architecture and performance analysis of computer systems. His primary field of research is the cache memory performance of memory-intensive applications. He has published in peer-reviewed conferences and journals such as ACM SIGMETRICS, IISWC, and the IEEE Transactions on Computers. His research is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Justice through the Center for Telecommunications and Network Security at OSU. He has recently expanded his research interests to include engineering education, and has published his work at ASEE’s national conference and ASEE’s Midwest section conference. He advises several undergraduate, M.S., and Ph.D. students.

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Donald P. French Oklahoma State University

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Professor in the Department of Zoology, Coordinator of the Certificate Program in University Faculty Preparation, Coordinator of the Introductory Biology course and a Past-President of the Society for College Science Teachers. His research focus is on biology education including the use of inquiry and technology in the teaching introductory biology lecture and laboratories. He has published articles on the impact of teaching in reformed courses on graduate students.

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YoonJung Cho Oklahoma State University

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Assistant professor in the School of Applied Health and Educational Psychology at Oklahoma State University. Her research is focused on students' achievement motivation and self-regulated learning process as well as teachers' motivation and its impact on instructional practices, both in traditional classroom setting and online instruction. She published articles on graduate teaching assistants’ professional development as well as faculty development.

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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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