Modeling Sources of Teaching Self-Efficacy for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Graduate Teaching Assistants.
ABSTRACT: Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) have a large impact on undergraduate instruction but are often poorly prepared to teach. Teaching self-efficacy, an instructor's belief in his or her ability to teach specific student populations a specific subject, is an important predictor of teaching skill and student achievement. A model of sources of teaching self-efficacy is developed from the GTA literature. This model indicates that teaching experience, departmental teaching climate (including peer and supervisor relationships), and GTA professional development (PD) can act as sources of teaching self-efficacy. The model is pilot tested with 128 GTAs from nine different STEM departments at a midsized research university. Structural equation modeling reveals that K-12 teaching experience, hours and perceived quality of GTA PD, and perception of the departmental facilitating environment are significant factors that explain 32% of the variance in the teaching self-efficacy of STEM GTAs. This model highlights the important contributions of the departmental environment and GTA PD in the development of teaching self-efficacy for STEM GTAs.
Project description:Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) play important instructional roles in introductory science courses, yet they often have little training in pedagogy. The most common form of teaching professional development (PD) for GTAs is a presemester workshop held at the course, department, or college level. In this study, we compare the effectiveness of presemester workshops at three northeastern research universities, each of which incorporated scientific teaching as the pedagogical content framework. The comparison of GTA PD program outcomes at three different institutions is intended to test theoretical assertions about the key role of contextual factors in GTA PD efficacy. Pretest and posttest surveys were used to assess changes in GTA teaching self-efficacy and anxiety following the workshops, and an objective test was used to assess pedagogical knowledge. Analysis of pretest/posttest data revealed statistically significant gains in GTA teaching self-efficacy and pedagogical knowledge and reductions in teaching anxiety across sites. Changes in teaching anxiety and self-efficacy, but not pedagogical knowledge, differed by training program. Student ratings of GTAs at two sites showed that students had positive perceptions of GTAs in all teaching dimensions, and relatively small differences in student ratings of GTAs were observed between institutions. Divergent findings for some outcome variables suggest that program efficacy was influenced as hypothesized by contextual factors such as GTA teaching experience.
Project description:The inconsistency of professional development (PD) in teaching for graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) is a widespread problem in higher education. Although GTAs serve an important role in retention of undergraduate science majors and in promotion of scientific literacy in nonmajors, they often lack preparation and ongoing support for teaching. Given the recent national focus on instructional quality in introductory courses, our goal was to use an online survey to identify current practices of teaching PD for biology GTAs and compare these results with the last national survey on this topic. In responses from 71 participant institutions, 96% reported some mandatory teaching preparation for biology GTAs; however, 52% of these programs required 10 or fewer hours per year. Respondents wanted to change their programs to include more pedagogical information and teaching observations with feedback to their GTAs. Programmatic self-ratings of satisfaction with GTA PD were positively correlated with the number of topics discussed during PD. Although more schools are requiring GTA PD for teaching compared with the last national survey, the lack of program breadth at many schools warrants a national conversation with regard to recent calls for improving undergraduate instruction.
Project description:There has been little attention given to teaching beliefs of graduate teaching assistants (GTAs), even though they represent the primary teaching workforce for undergraduate students in discussion and laboratory sections at many research universities. Secondary school education studies have shown that teaching beliefs are malleable and can be shaped by professional development, particularly for inexperienced teachers. This study characterized inexperienced GTAs' teaching beliefs about student learning and how they change with a science-specific pedagogy course that emphasized student learning. GTA teaching beliefs were characterized as traditional (providing information to students), instructive (providing activities for students), and transitional (focusing on student-teacher relationships). At the start of the course, traditional, instructive, and transitional beliefs were emphasized comparably in the concept maps and presentations of inexperienced GTAs. At the end of the course, although GTAs' beliefs remained mostly teacher focused, they were more instructive than traditional or transitional. GTAs included teaching strategies and jargon from the course in their concept maps but provided minimal explanations about how opportunities for active student engagement would impact student learning. These results suggest there is a need to provide ongoing discipline-specific professional development to inexperienced GTAs as they develop and strengthen their teaching beliefs about student learning.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:To determine the cost-effectiveness of Gynaecology Teaching Associate (GTA) teaching versus conventional pelvic model (manikin) teaching of pelvic examination skills for final year medical students within a UK undergraduate obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) curriculum. METHODS:An economic evaluation was carried out alongside a randomised controlled trial involving 492 final year medical students. 240 students received manikin teaching, and 241 GTA-led teaching. 418 (85%) students completed their assessment. Proficiency in gynaecological pelvic examination on GTAs was estimated by a senior clinical examiner, blinded to the method of teaching, using a standardised assessment tool. University of Birmingham Medical School thresholds were applied to determine proficiency levels; competence (pass) 50%, merit 60% and distinction 70%. Costs incurred in the delivery of both the educational pathways (control and intervention) were combined. All costs are reported in 2013-2014 prices and earlier costs adjusted using inflation indices. OUTCOME MEASURES:Cost per student competent in pelvic examination at completion of a 5-week clinical O&G placement. RESULTS:GTA teaching was more effective compared with conventional teaching with 12 more students considered competent at pass level and 28 more students competent at merit and distinction levels, respectively. However, the average cost of GTA teaching was £45.06 per student compared with £7.40 per student for conventional teaching, with an increased cost of £37.66 per student. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio demonstrated that it cost an additional £640.20 per competent student and £274.37 per student competent at merit level and £274.37 at distinction level compared with conventional manikin-based teaching. CONCLUSIONS:GTA teaching of female pelvic examination at the start of undergraduate medical student O&G clinical placements is shown to cost more and be more effective. GTA teaching is likely to be considered cost-effective in the context of other tests, and over the lifespan of a competent doctor's career. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER:NCT01944592.
Project description:Evidence-based teaching is a highly complex skill, requiring repeated cycles of deliberate practice and feedback to master. Despite existing well-characterized frameworks for practice-based training in K-12 teacher education, the major principles of these frameworks have not yet been transferred to instructor development in higher educational contexts, including training of graduate teaching assistants (GTAs). We sought to determine whether a practice-based training program could help GTAs learn and use evidence-based teaching methods in their classrooms. We implemented a weekly training program for introductory biology GTAs that included structured drills of techniques selected to enhance student practice, logic development, and accountability and reduce apprehension. These elements were selected based on their previous characterization as dimensions of active learning. GTAs received regular performance feedback based on classroom observations. To quantify use of target techniques and levels of student participation, we collected and coded 160 h of video footage. We investigated the relationship between frequency of GTA implementation of target techniques and student exam scores; however, we observed no significant relationship. Although GTAs adopted and used many of the target techniques with high frequency, techniques that enforced student participation were not stably adopted, and their use was unresponsive to formal feedback. We also found that techniques discussed in training, but not practiced, were not used at quantifiable frequencies, further supporting the importance of practice-based training for influencing instructional practices.
Project description:To help prepare future faculty in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to teach undergraduates, more research universities are offering teaching development (TD) programs to doctoral students who aspire to academic careers. Using social cognitive career theory, we examine the effects of TD programs on early-career STEM scholars' sense of self-efficacy as postsecondary teachers. In 2011, a survey questionnaire was administered to 2156 people who in 2009 were doctoral students in STEM departments at three U.S. research universities; 1445 responded (67%). Regression analysis revealed positive relationships between TD participation and participants' college teaching self-efficacy and positive interaction effects for women. These findings may be used to improve the quality and quantity of TD offerings and help them gain wider acceptance.
Project description:Evidence-based teaching (EBT), such as active learning and formative assessment, benefits student learning but is not present in many college science classrooms. The choices faculty make about how to teach their science courses are influenced by their personal beliefs and motivations, as well as their departmental structures and institutional cultures. With data from 584 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculty trained in EBT, we compare which of the following factors most relate to faculty's use of EBT: 1) faculty's personal motivations (e.g., teaching value, confidence, beliefs about intelligence); and 2) their experiences with their institutional teaching environments (e.g., departmental support, student enthusiasm). Faculty's perceived supports in their teaching environments (e.g., having supportive colleagues, being able to access curricular resources) were by far most predictive of their use of EBT. Faculty's personal motivations had little to no relationship when supports were included in these models. The effects were robust, even when controlling for faculty gender, minority status, and teaching experience. Much of the literature has focused on perceived barriers to EBT implementation (e.g., lack of time, constrained teaching space). The current data indicate that a focus on building supports for faculty may have the greatest impact on increasing the presence of EBT in college STEM courses.
Project description:Perinatal nurses in rural hospitals can play an important role in providing postpartum depression education to new mothers. Guided by Self-Efficacy Theory, this replication study used a self-report instrument to survey perinatal nurses' self-efficacy in postpartum depression teaching, self-esteem, stigma and attitudes toward seeking help for mental illness. Thirty-eight perinatal nurses employed in a rural hospital participated in the study. The results indicated perinatal nurses' postpartum depression teaching behaviors were associated with: self-efficacy related to postpartum depression teaching; social persuasion by a supervisor; prior mastery of teaching on other postpartum care topics; and vicarious experiences of observing peers teach about postpartum depression. Perinatal nurses with positive attitudes toward receiving psychological help were more likely to provide postpartum depression education.
Project description:Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) who are English language learners at American institutions often endure xenophobia, pressures to conform to American culture, and visa restrictions on working. Quantitative data we collected from the Introduction to Biology Laboratory course taught at a large R1 university indicate paper grading discrepancies between international and domestic GTAs. Qualitative data highlight international GTAs' concerns regarding grading load and language barriers. To alleviate the burden on international GTAs, we provide a professional development activity for professors to use in course planning meetings based on feedback from GTAs. Group reflection, discussion, and modification of a rubric are recommended in order to train GTAs in assessing scientific writing to collaboratively build expectations as a teaching team.
Project description:Gene transfer agents (GTAs) are virus-like elements integrated into bacterial genomes, particularly, those of <i>Alphaproteobacteria</i> The GTAs can be induced under conditions of nutritional stress, incorporate random fragments of bacterial DNA into miniphage particles, lyse the host cells, and infect neighboring bacteria, thus enhancing horizontal gene transfer. We show that GTA genes evolve under conditions of pronounced positive selection for the reduction of the energy cost of protein production as shown by comparison of the amino acid compositions with those of both homologous viral genes and host genes. The energy saving in GTA genes is comparable to or even more pronounced than that in the genes encoding the most abundant, essential bacterial proteins. In cases in which viruses acquire genes from GTAs, the bias in amino acid composition disappears in the course of evolution, showing that reduction of the energy cost of protein production is an important factor of evolution of GTAs but not bacterial viruses. These findings strongly suggest that GTAs represent bacterial adaptations rather than selfish, virus-like elements. Because GTA production kills the host cell and does not propagate the GTA genome, it appears likely that the GTAs are retained in the course of evolution via kin or group selection. Therefore, we hypothesize that GTAs facilitate the survival of bacterial populations under energy-limiting conditions through the spread of metabolic and transport capabilities via horizontal gene transfer and increases in nutrient availability resulting from the altruistic suicide of GTA-producing cells.<b>IMPORTANCE</b> Kin selection and group selection remain controversial topics in evolutionary biology. We argue that these types of selection are likely to operate in bacterial populations by showing that bacterial gene transfer agents (GTAs), but not related viruses, evolve under conditions of positive selection for the reduction of the energy cost of GTA particle production. We hypothesize that GTAs are dedicated devices mediating the survival of bacteria under conditions of nutrient limitation. The benefits conferred by GTAs under nutritional stress conditions appear to include horizontal dissemination of genes that could provide bacteria with enhanced capabilities for nutrient utilization and increases of nutrient availability occurring through the lysis of GTA-producing bacteria.