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Uncovering Barriers to Teaching Assistants (TAs) Implementing Inquiry Teaching: Inconsistent Facilitation Techniques, Student Resistance, and Reluctance to Share Control over Learning with Students.


ABSTRACT: Inquiry-based teaching approaches are increasingly being adopted in biology laboratories. Yet teaching assistants (TAs), often novice teachers, teach the majority of laboratory courses in US research universities. This study analyzed the perspectives of TAs and their students and used classroom observations to uncover challenges faced by TAs during their first year of inquiry-based teaching. Our study revealed three insights about barriers to effective inquiry teaching practices: 1) TAs lack sufficient facilitation skills; 2) TAs struggle to share control over learning with students as they reconcile long-standing teaching beliefs with newly learned approaches, consequently undermining their fledgling ability to use inquiry approaches; and 3) student evaluations reinforce teacher-centered behaviors as TAs receive positive feedback conflicting with inquiry approaches. We make recommendations, including changing instructional feedback to focus on learner-centered teaching practices. We urge TA mentors to engage TAs in discussions to uncover teaching beliefs underlying teaching choices and support TAs through targeted feedback and practice.

SUBMITTER: Gormally C 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4858357 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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