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The Influence of a Teaching Assistant Orientation on Teaching Assistant Perceptions of Self-Efficacy

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Training and Mentoring of Graduate Teaching Assistants

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1215.1 - 23.1215.18



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Paper Authors


Kevin Andrew Rosse-Richards Purdue University

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K. Andrew R. Richards is a third year doctoral student studying physical education pedagogy at Purdue University. Richards received his master's degree at Purdue and his bachelor's at Springfield College (MA) prior to beginning his PhD studies. His primary research interests include teacher socialization, teacher/coach role conflict, and physical education teacher education. In addition to his studies in physical education, Richards is a teaching assistant at the Purdue University Center for Instructional Excellence, where he helps to develop and evaluate professional development programming for faculty and graduate students interested in improving their teaching. Upon completing his PhD, Richards anticipates seeking a position as an assistant professor of physical education at a research intensive institution.

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Juan Diego Velasquez Purdue University, West Lafayette


David B Nelson Purdue University

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David B. Nelson is Associate Director of the Center for Instructional Excellence at Purdue University. He received his Ph.D in World History from the Universi of California, Irvine in 2008.

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Chantal Levesque-Bristol Purdue University

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Chantal Levesque-Bristol is professor of Educational Studies and Director of the Center for Instructional Excellence at Purdue University. She holds a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Ottawa, and has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Rochester and Professor of Psychology and Director of the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning at Missouri State University. She has taught courses in statistics and research methods at the undergraduate and graduate level. Her scholarly work is in the area of human motivation generally and academic motivation specifically. Using the theoretical framework of Self-Determination Theory, she conducts basic research in motivation and social psychology and applied research in education, learning, and student retention, and has been active in several Teaching and Learning program. As Director of the Center for Instructional Excellence, she provides support for the instructional community and resources to faculty interested in learning pedagogies and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). She is the recipient of several Teaching Awards and Research Awards. She is a grantee of the National Institute of Mental Health. She has lectured at several institutions of Higher Education on motivation and learning principles.

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The Influence of a Teaching Assistant Orientation on Teaching Assistant Perceptions of Self-EfficacyIntroduction: Graduate students at large, research-intensive institutions are often funded asteaching assistants (TAs) for undergraduate courses [1]. Although content-specific trainingprograms are beneficial for TA development [2], training in general pedagogical principals isalso required given that most TAs lack the pedagogical knowledge required to teach effectively[3, 4]. Thus, developing a sense of self-efficacy [5] related to pedagogical principles [6] isimportant for TA development. This is especially relevant for international TAs who mustbecome familiar with the American classroom while also learning how to teach [7]. Manyuniversities coordinate teaching assistant orientation (TAO) programs prior to the start of theacademic semester [3] to help TAs develop pedagogical knowledge and self-efficacy. Thepurpose of this investigation is to evaluate the impact of a TAO coordinated at a large, research-intensive university in developing TA’s self-reported feelings of self-efficacy related topedagogical knowledge.Materials and Methods: 307 TAs representing all 10 colleges on the university campus whoenrolled in the TAO prior to the start of the fall of 2012 semester participated in the study. TheTAO was held for one full day in the week prior to the start of classes. During morning sessions,all TAs were grouped together in a large lecture hall. In the afternoon, TAs were divided intosmall classroom groups based on discipline (science, technology, engineering, agriculture, andmathematics [STEAM] and all other disciplines [All Campus]). Sessions covered the followingcontent areas: developing learning environments, motivating students, giving presentations,promoting academic integrity, creating engaged classrooms, managing classrooms, and planninglessons and assessments. Participants completed a pre-survey which asked them to evaluate theirperceived ability to address pedagogical issues discussed during the TAO. A post-surveymeasured changes in self-efficacy as a result of attending the TAO. Analyses included T-Tests tomeasure the changes in self-efficacy related to the pedagogical knowledge objectives for thesample as a whole as well as specific subgroups. Subgroup analyses examined the differences inchanges in self-efficacy based on international student status (international vs. domestic) anddiscipline (STEAM vs. All Campus).Results and Discussion: Results indicate that participants’ perceived self-efficacy related to theindices of pedagogical knowledge increased as a result of participating in the TAO (See Table 1).Statistical analyses revealed that participants felt a higher level of self-efficacy related to theirperceived ability to implement content learned in each session of the TAO as well as theorientation as a whole (p<.001Note: Responses to questions were on a 5-point Likert-type scale. Morning represents thedifference in graduate students’ reported self-efficacy related to the morning session of the TAO,which was conducted as a large group, and included the following topics: developing learningenvironments, motivating students, and giving presentations. All other breakout sessions wereconducted in small groups by discipline. ManClass represents the difference in graduate studentsreported self-efficacy related to the managing classroom environments breakout session.EngageClass represents the difference in graduate students’ reported self-efficacy related tocreating the creating the engaged classroom breakout session. LearnEnv represents the differencein graduate students’ reported self-efficacy related to the managing learning environmentsbreakout session, which covered lesson planning and assessment. AcademicInteg represents thedifference in graduate students’ reported self-efficacy related to the academic integrity breakoutsession. Overall represents graduate students overall changes in self-efficacy as a result ofattending the TAO. References:1. Allen, R. and T. Rueter, Teaching assistant strategies: An introduction to college teaching. 1990, Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt.2. Kurdziel, J.P., et al., Graduate teaching assistants and inquiry-bases instruction: Implications for graduate teaching assistant training. Journal of Chemestry Education, 2003. 80: p. 1206.3. Zahorski, K.J., ed. To improve the academy: Resources for stduent, faculty, and instructional development. Vol. 10. 1991, New Forum Press: Stillwater, OK.4. Boice, R., First-order principles for college teachers: Ten basic ways to improve the teaching process. 1996, Boston, MA: Anker.5. Bandura, A., Social foundations of thought and action. 1986, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.6. Dembo, M.H. and S. Gibson, Teacher sense of efficacy: An important factor in school improvement. The Elementary School Journal, 1985. 86(173-184).7. Hoekje, B. and J. Williams, Communicative competence and the dilemma of international teaching assistant education. TESOL Quarterly, 1992. 26: p. 243-269.

Rosse-Richards, K. A., & Velasquez, J. D., & Nelson, D. B., & Levesque-Bristol, C. (2013, June), The Influence of a Teaching Assistant Orientation on Teaching Assistant Perceptions of Self-Efficacy Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22600

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