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Student and Teaching Assistant Perspectives on Characteristics of an Effective Teaching Assistant

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Technical Session: Student Experience & Perspectives

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1411.1 - 26.1411.15



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Paper Authors


Dylan Christenson Texas Tech University

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B.A. Liberal Studies and M.A. Education from Vanguard University of Southern California. M.S. Civil Engineering Texas Tech University. Currently pursuing a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering with focus on the biological treatment of waste water for re-use applications. I am passionate about both engineering and education. I am specifically interested in student motivation, formative assessment, service learning, and the influence of the affective domain.

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Daniel Baldwin


Maeghan Marie Brundrett Texas Tech University

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Current PhD student at Texas Tech University in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Main research focus is on the fate and occurrence of chlorate in the environment and its use as an alternative solution for remediation of the salt marshes impacted by the BP Horizon oil spill.

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Paula Ann Monaco Texas Tech University Orcid 16x16

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Pursuing Doctorate of Philosophy in Civil Engineering with a research focus in anti-fouling and scaling technology and pharmaceutical and personal care product transport through the subsurface contaminating groundwater supplies.

Actively involved with STEM outreach programs ranging from K-12 summer camp classes to one day hands-on-activities increasing interest of environmental engineering.

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Kevin A. Nguyen Texas Tech University Orcid 16x16

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Kevin Nguyen is currently a graduate student in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at Texas Tech University and is working towards a B.S. and M.Eng in Environmental Engineering. He has participated as an undergraduate researcher in the NSF REU Summer Experience in Engineering Education Research program at Franklin W. Olin College.

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Audra N. Morse Texas Tech University

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Dr. Audra Morse, P.E., is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the Whitacre College of Engineering and a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Texas Tech University. She leads the Engineering Opportunities Center which provides retention, placement and academic support services to WCOE students. Her professional experience is focused on water and wastewater treatment, specifically water reclamation systems, membrane filtration and the fate of personal products in treatment systems.

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Student and Teaching Assistant Perspectives on Characteristics of an Effective Teaching AssistantIn addition to their research and coursework responsibilities, many graduate students are placedin the role of teaching assistant. Theoretically, this position will benefit both the student and thedepartment by allowing the graduate student to gain valuable classroom experience while fillinga teaching need in the sponsoring department. However, in practice, these experiences can rangefrom rewarding to challenging for both the teaching assistants and the students under their care.These challenges raise an important question, what are the characteristics of an effective teachingassistant? In assessing teaching effectiveness, both the affective and cognitive domains must betaken into account. This study seeks to address the affective aspect for both students andteaching assistants by assessing their perceptions of what makes an effective teaching assistant.As such, the objectives of this study are to examine any gaps between student and teachingassistant perceptions, assess differences between different types of teaching assistant roles (i.e.lab vs. lecture), and compare the results to accepted best practices from literature and thepersonal experience of experienced teaching assistants. Surveys consisting of Likert scale andopen-ended questions were given to teaching assistants and students. The study utilized mixedmethods with descriptive statistics used to assess the Likert results and a qualitative analysis ofthe open-ended questions to determine common themes. Since teaching assistant roles can varywidely, several different types of classes were assessed within the environmental and waterresources engineering curriculum. Both laboratory and lecture courses were assessed withstudents of varying grade levels. Better understanding of student and teaching assistantexpectations can provide valuable insight towards the design of graduate teaching assistanttraining and support programs to help foster a more beneficial and positive experience for boththe teaching assistants and their students.

Christenson, D., & Baldwin, D., & Brundrett, M. M., & Monaco, P. A., & Nguyen, K. A., & Morse, A. N. (2015, June), Student and Teaching Assistant Perspectives on Characteristics of an Effective Teaching Assistant Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24748

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