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Abstract Detail


Teaching Section

Kendall , Katharina Denise [1], Schussler, Elisabeth E. [2].

Do Undergraduates Stereotype Me? Undergraduate Student Ratings of Faculty Versus Graduate Teaching Assistants.

Many science departments at higher education institutions report using GTAs for the majority of their undergraduate, particularly laboratory, instruction in lower division courses. These lower division courses heavily influence student attrition and retention in the sciences. Given the vast reliance on GTAs for instruction in these courses, it is important to understand if undergraduate students perceive GTAs to be similar to faculty members in terms of teaching and fostering student learning. Theoretical work has documented the characteristics of uncertain, nervous, relaxed,engaging, relatable, and understanding to be associated with GTAs as instructors, and respect, strict, distant, organized, enthusiastic, confident,and boring as associated with faculty members as instructors. This study used these thirteen characteristics to explore if student ratings of actual instructors identify the same differences,if perception of these characteristics change throughout a semester, and if these characteristics are associated with student perception of instructor teaching effectiveness and perceived student learning. Undergraduates from eight large introductory biology lecture courses(taught by faculty members) and associated laboratory sections (taught by GTAs)completed a 15-item Likert-scale survey at the beginning and then the end of the semester. Results from the beginning of the semester indicated that GTAs are perceived as more uncertain and nervous while faculty are perceived as more confident and enthusiastic;however, contrary to the theoretical findings, faculty are also considered more engaging. Student ratings at the end of the semester indicated changes in undergraduate perception over the course of the semester. In particular, GTA ratings of nervous and uncertain decrease while ratings for understanding, engaging, respect, and confident increase, while faculty member ratings of confident, engaging, respect, organized, relate, relaxed, and strict decrease while ratings for boring and uncertain increase. Spearman rank correlations indicated moderate to strong correlations for all instructional characteristics except strict with student perception of teaching effectiveness or perceived student learning; therefore, regardless of instructor type,effective instructors are engaging, enthusiastic, confident, organized,respected, understanding, and relatable while ineffective instructors are nervous, boring, uncertain, and distant. Given these results, it appears that GTAs gain in perception of effective instructional characteristics over the semester, while faculty members decrease in perception of effective instructional characteristics. Awareness of undergraduate perception provides instructors of all types with insight regarding what undergraduates expect from effective instructors, as well as stereotyped associations GTAs or faculty members may need to overcome when teaching.

Broader Impacts:


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1 - University of Tennessee - Knoxville, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 569 Dabney Hall, Univerity of Tennessee - Knoxville, knoxville, TN, 37996, USA
2 - University Of Tennessee, Department Of Ecology And Evolutionary Biology, 569 Dabney Hall, Knoxville, TN, 37996, USA

Keywords:
Undergraduates
Effective Instruction
Graduate Teaching Assistants
Faculty Members.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 27
Location: Delaware A/Hyatt
Date: Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
Time: 10:30 AM
Number: 27007
Abstract ID:135


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