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Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Pedagogy Training Workshop, Part 2

Theodore Smith • 9/20/18

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Pedagogy Training Workshop, Part 2

By Theodore C. Smith, M.S. 1, Amberly Reynolds, M.S. 1, Melissa Taylor, M.S. 1, Charity F. Upson-Taboas, M.S., M.A. 1,2

1 Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, IU School of Medicine – Bloomington,

2 Department of Anthropology, Indiana University – Bloomington

See Part 1: https://medicine.iu.edu/blogs/research-in-medical-education/uta-pedagogy-training-workshop-part-1/

 

We developed a pre-training and post-training survey to gather demographic data, undergraduate teaching assistant (UTA) perceptions of teaching, UTA recruitment methods, and training feedback. Upon arrival to the training, participants filled out the pre-training survey via Survey Monkey1. 13 out of 14 had never been a UTA before, and all had earned either an A or a B in the course. Career goals also varied: Medical School (21%), Physical Therapy (21%), Physician’s Assistant (21%), Other (37%).

Pre-Training Results:

When asked about their perceived role as an ANAT: A215 UTA, participants responded that their role invovled: providing study tips (36%), answering questions (79%), and helping graduate instructors (14%). Participants hoped the training would demonstrate the expectations of UTAs, how to best teach the material, and what preparation is needed for lab sessions. Unexpectedly, a paired samples t-test showed that as students, the UTAs felt their graduate Associate Instructors (AIs) were more knowledgeable, had a larger effect on their success in the course, and were a larger influence on students becoming UTAs than the UTAs the participants had had in class (Table 1). These results suggest that the role of the AI is incredibly important for the recruitment of young anatomy educators.

 

Table 1. Paired Samples t-test examining how participants UTAs and graduate Associate Instructor (AIs) behaviors influence their experience and recruitment to the UTA program. This consists of 4 factors: Friendliness/Approachability of their UTA/AI, AI/UTA Knowledge, AI/UTA value to success, and AI/UTA positive influence on participants’ application to be a UTA. Data were analyzed using SPSS2.

Post-Training Results:

In the post-training survey, taken immediately following training, all participants reported that their expectations for the training were met. UTAs’ new definitions of their role in the classroom moved away from the specific actions listed above (e.g. “answering questions”) to more abstract concepts (e.g. “be a guide” or “be a resource”). We believe this represents a cognitive move from defining their role as a series of tasks to defining a philosophy for their work. Main issues reported with the training revolved around its length (~2 hours) and more strategies for lecture UTAs.

Post-Teaching Semester Results:

In the post-semester survey, taken in Survey Monkey1 in the semester following their teaching assignment in A215, UTAs were asked to reflect on their experience and how it affected their educational plans.

Role perceptions were reported as the following themes (n = 13): Assist students (69%), provide study strategies (15%), provide personal support (8%), assist graduate instructors (8%), give presentations (14%), and increase personal learning (8%). These results indicate a mix of the training results; roles are defined as practical tasks and abstract philosophies.

100% of respondents indicated that they felt they were a better teacher after their experience of being a UTA. 69% of UTAs reported they were more likely to pursue teaching as part of their future career goals.

This works indicates the need to examine how early experiences in anatomical education influence future educators. As the need for anatomical educators grows, examining the recruitment and training of future anatomy educators will be vital.

1) SurveyMonkey Inc., San Mateo, California, USA, www.surveymonkey.com
2) IBM Corp. Released 2016. IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 24.0. Armonk, NY: IBM Corp.

The views expressed in this post content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Author

Theodore Smith

Associate Instructor

I am a graduate student at Indiana University-Bloomington in the Anatomy and Cell Biology-Education Track PhD program. My research interests include: educator development, evolutionary medicine, cognitive skills in anatomical education and the neural basis of anatomical knowledge.