Emily Alicea-Munoz · SM 20
Research Results and Best Practices for GTA Preparation
Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) are essential in the teaching of introductory physics at many universities, and have been so for over a century. However, no formal efforts to prepare GTAs for their teaching responsibilities existed before roughly 1970, and only the last three decades have seen systematic research on the best methods of GTA training. In this talk, I provide a brief summary of the most salient results from research in GTA preparation, and synthesize the most important recommendations from the literature into the six (plus one) principles for best practices in GTA development.
Emily Alicea-Munoz · SM 20
Roleplaying in GTA Preparation: Microteaching and Lab Simulation
First-time graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) are usually nervous about their first teaching assignment. They worry about knowing the material well enough to teach it, they worry about public speaking and getting respect from their students, and they worry about potentially malfunctioning lab equipment, among many other concerns. Since "practice makes perfect," it makes sense to provide GTAs with the opportunity to practice before their teaching duties begin. In this talk, I describe two such activities that are part of the GTA Preparation class in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech. These activities allow the GTAs to take turns performing as teacher/facilitator and as students, providing them with an idea of what to expect in their classrooms. Course assessments over the past several years have shown that GTAs consider these activities to be very useful in preparing them and increasing their teaching self-efficacy.
Emily Alicea-Munoz · PERC Summer Meeting 2020
Transforming the Preparation of Physics GTAs
Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) are key partners in the education of undergrads. Given the potentially large impact GTAs can have on undergraduate student learning, it is important to provide them with appropriate preparation for teaching. But GTAs are students themselves, and not all of them desire an academic career. Therefore, it is crucial that GTA preparation not be a burden but rather be fully integrated into their professional development. In this talk, we describe a GTA preparation course for first-year PhD students. Through a yearly cycle of implementation and revision, the course has evolved into a robust and comprehensive professional development program that is well-received by physics graduate students. We assessed the effectiveness of the course with a combination of surveys, pre/post tests, and student evaluations. We found that GTAs feel better prepared for teaching and adopt more learner-centered teaching approaches after participating in the program.