Partners combines in-depth interviews with quantitative data to show how innovations in the roles of graduate teaching assistants at universities are improving both their own experiences and the overall educational environment. This book addresses a topic of growing interest in higher education, namely the professional development of the future professorate. It explores the contribution that both undergraduate and graduate teaching assistants can play in undergraduate education, particularly in the sciences where considerable rethinking of both content and pedagogy is underway. Drawing on three studies of undergraduate reform initiatives-two in chemistry and one in astronomy-the author illustrates the under-used potential of teaching assistants as collaborators in implementing active and interactive models of teaching and learning. She points to unmet needs in the educational preparation and support of TAs in more traditionally-taught science courses, and the additional preparation that TAs require to be effective enablers of learning in support of new pedagogies. The TAs emerge from her studies as trouble-shooters, consultants, and collaborators in support of the innovations for which they work, with a potential for active collegial engagement that may be underestimated. They also provide insights into the causes of problems that undergraduates often experience in shifting to active learning modes, and of resistance to these changes among students, faculty, and TAs themselves.
Elaine Seymour is director of ethnography and evaluation research at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 The Importance of Teaching Assistants to Undergraduates in the Sciences Chapter 3 The Role of Teaching Assistants in Three Classroom Change Initiatives in Undergraduate Science Chapter 4 The Benefits to Teaching Assistants of Working in Innovative Courses Chapter 5 The Nature and Consequences of Teaching Assistants' Evaluations of the Three Classroom Initiatives Chapter 6 Teaching Assistants' Explanations for Undergraduate Responses to Innovative Teaching and Learning: Student Learning Difficulties versus Student Resistance Chapter 7 Redefining the Teaching Assistants' Role in Innovative Courses: Expansion of Traditional Work Roles Chapter 8 Redefining the Teaching Assistants' Role in Innovative Courses: New Facets of the Teaching Assistants' Role Chapter 9 The Relative Contributions of Undergraduate and Graduate Teaching Assistants Chapter 10 Professional Development for Teaching Assistants Chapter 11 Fostering Collegial Engagement among Teaching Assistants Working in Innovative Courses Chapter 12 Conclusions