This study will apply the use of experimental study design to conduct the survey. An experimental research design is a study design that applies the use of a controlled experimental factor that undergoes the experiment process for a purpose of comparing them with other factors which are kept constant (Ya-Ting & C, 2008). Based the literature review, we can have several distinct experimental designs for the various research questions at hand.
The research problem is to determine the performance of the undergraduate students taught in their introductory classes by the teaching assistants and the effect the training of being a teaching assistant has on the graduate students. The specific objectives include; to study the effectiveness of a Graduate Teaching Assistant, to study the epistemological and metacognitive development of graduate teaching assistance and to study the potential development or utilization of an instrument. These objectives will form the scope of the study (Xiao, et al., 2011).
Sampling will be done from a population of all university students. Students from various different courses will be used as samples. Sampling is study in order to make the study manageable and for easy inferencing about the population (Williams, Keith, O'Connor, & Marie, 2012).A maximum of five courses is sufficient for the study. The sample will involve two groups of students; those that are taught purely by the lecturers and those taught by lectures and graduate teaching assistants. Those who are purely taught by the lectures will act as control for the experiment.
The variables will include students’ identity (name), course, marks scored at the beginning of the semester, marks scored at the end of the semester and satisfaction level. Specific design structures are outlined in the section that follows. Specific experimental study designs suitable for every objective are also outlined in the sections that follow.
Experimental Study Design
In order to study the effectiveness of a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) on undergraduate students, we will use two different samples of students. One sample will consist of those students who are taught by graduate teaching assistants while the other used as a control for the experiment, will consist of those who are purely taught by lectures. In our scenario, we will pick the samples from the same course.
The two groups will be given the same test at the end of the semester and their performance evaluated. From this, one would be able to evaluate effectiveness of a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) on undergraduate students.
Based on the review of various literatures of the numerous work that have been done on graduate teaching assistants, it is very evident that several gaps still exists. Several research have been done on this subject matter and in different dimensions. However, there are still other gaps that exists and that requires further research. Some of these areas or research questions are outlined below.
Does the training by GTA and by main lectures exhibit any significant variation? A study by (DeChenne, Kiziol, Needham, & Enochs, 2015) on modelling the sources of self-teaching, it is demonstrated that there exists variations in the trainings of graduate teaching assistants by professional teachers. The study, however, failed to clearly outline whether such variations are important or significant and the extent to which such variations can affect the delivery of the graduate teaching assistants. Therefore, such studies are important and critical as they directly influence the output of the students as well.
Do graduate teaching assistants have any significant contribution towards the overall performance of the students? Several studies have indicated that indeed graduate teaching assistants have some contributions in the overall performance of the students. A study by (Goertzen, et al., 2010) demonstrate that graduate teaching assistants contribute much to the students’ understanding of the practical concepts of the course by assisting in the step by step handling of such areas. Furthermore, a study by (Jeffrey, 2009) demonstrate that graduate teaching assistants helps in improving the critical thinking abilities of the students. These are indeed very important concepts as far as students’ academics are concerned. However, none of these studies indicate the significance of these contributions towards the overall performance of the students. Therefore, a study needs to be conducted in order to find out whether such contributions are significant towards the overall performance of the students.
What is the level of satisfaction of the students with the graduate teaching assistants? A study by (Kinchin, et al., 2009) reveals that a significant of students are indeed generally satisfied with the graduate teaching assistants. In fact, the reveals that a significant of students are comfortable with consulting the graduate teaching assistants rather than their lecturers. This is very important as far as improving students’ performance is concerned. The study, however, failed to point out the level of satisfaction of the students of being handled by the graduate teaching assistants. Therefore, a study needs to be done to find out or investigate the level of satisfaction of the students with the graduate teaching assistants.
A further study needs to be done find out whether there is a significant difference in the performance of students in the units taught by experienced lecturers and those taught by graduate teaching assistants. A study by (Nicole, 2011) as well as a study by (Miller, et al., 2014)reveals that there is indeed a difference in performance in the units handled by graduate assistants and lecturers and those handled by lectures alone. The studies, however, did not outline how significant or important this difference is towards academic performance of the students. Therefore, a further study needs to be done to find out how important the differences re towards the overall academic performance of the students.
Importance of Graduate Teaching Assistants
Graduate teaching assistance have a wide range of benefits or importance to those who are involved. These benefits assist them in their career development and their future career progress both as teachers as well as in other roles. Some of the major benefits of being assistant teacher to an individual are outlined below.
A teaching assistant learns to be a responsible teacher by helping the main teachers to carry out their daily activities (Gilmore, et al., 2014). This means that they finally develop as very important and well- rounded teachers or lecturers in the end (Henderson & Barbara, 2010). For example, graduate teaching assistant must ensure that the classroom is conducive for learning (Gonsalves, et al., 2009). They also help the main lecturers in ensuring that the classroom is neat, clean and sufficiently fresh to inspire learning (Cho, et al., 2011). This is an extremely important preparation of the involved individuals who would later become lecturers.
Another important benefit of being a graduate teaching assistant is that it prepares one to be a proper administrator as far as the teaching job is concerned (Damiani, Michelle, Harbour, & Wendy, 2015). This is because a teaching assistant will be available to assist the main lecturer in their daily administrative work (Eulsun, Lynn, & Mark, 2012). Therefore, by being a graduate teaching assistant, one is in the process of learning by experience. This is very important in developing a proper leader or administrator.
Moreover, graduate teaching practice helps an individual in learning by practicing the various learning strategies that are appropriate for efficient content delivery (Eulsun, Seung, Lynn, & A, 2010). This implies that an individual is able to evaluate themselves in the process and decide on the most appropriate teaching strategy or delivery methods (Saches, Teviah, & Timothy, 2015). A graduate teaching assistant may be able to even assess the students they are handling to ascertain whether they are using the right strategies and delivery methods.
A graduate teaching assistant learns by helping the lectures to manage various lesson activities (Lachman, et al., 2013). By providing support during activities such as practical lessons or activities that requires demonstration and the students cannot handle on their own, they gain proper mastery of the concepts (Saches, Teviah, & Timothy, 2015). They gain proper mastery and understanding of various course concepts and activities. This is important as it helps them in becoming confident of what they will be teaching in future as much as it improves on their mastery and knowledge of the courses they are handling. Furthermore, by constant interaction with the students, and from various concepts or parts that might not be clear, the teaching assistants are at better position of developing on their research and studies. This is very critical and important in advancing on their degrees as much as getting various links from the various institutions that might be interested in their research or might find their research to be important.
A graduate teaching assistant works in a team (Saches, Teviah, & Timothy, 2015). A graduate teaching assistant is in the team that helps in building a happy and healthy relationship between the students, the lectures and other stakeholders like the parents and guardians (Trent & John, 2014). They contribute to the growth of skills of the students and helping them achieve their dreams (Miller, et al., 2014). These stallholders later become very important links to the graduate teaching assistant in future (Webstar, et al., 2013). Therefore, by taking part as a graduate teaching assistant, they develop important powerful network which has the potential of being very important in the future.
Graduate teaching assistants have got ample time to carry out their research. This is because assisting in teaching is usually less time consuming (Gonsalves, et al., 2009). Therefore, graduate teaching assistant is able to find their time and complete their class work and advance their studies which is an important aspect in their future career developments.
Graduate teaching assistants also have a great growth opportunity in terms of the various soft skills that are important for their career growth and developments (Eulsun, Lynn, & Mark, 2012). Some of the greatest skills that a graduate teaching assistant is able to learn and develop are the communication skills and the presentation skills. By taking part in daily class activities and teaching sessions, those who have undergone the graduate teaching assistantship develop strong and very effective communication skills (Nicole, 2011). They are able to know some of the best delivery ways for effective learning, a skill that is very crucial for those who intend to further their career in lecturing. Moreover, according to the research done by (DeChenne, Kiziol, Needham, & Enochs, 2015), a graduate teaching assistants have to make several presentations from time to time thereby enabling them to develop proper and effective presentation skills that they require in various occasions in their teaching career as well as outside the teaching career.
Cho, Younjung, Kim, Myoungsook, Svinicki, Marilla, D., . . . Mark, L. (2011). Exploring teaching concerns and characteristics of graduate teaching assistants. Journal of Teaching in Higher Education, 13.
Damiani, Michelle, L., Harbour, & Wendy, S. (2015). Being the Wizard behind the Curtain: Teaching Experiences of Graduate Teaching Assistants with Disabilities at U.S. Universities. Innovative Higher Education, 15.
DeChenne, Kiziol, N., Needham, M., & Enochs, L. (2015). Modeling Sources of Teaching Self-Efficacy for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Graduate Teaching Assistants. Journal of Biology Education, 14.
Eulsun, S., Lynn, A. B., & Mark, P. H. (2012). Examining Physics Graduate Teaching Assistants’ Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Teaching a New Physics Curriculum. 29.
Eulsun, Seung, Lynn, & A, B. (2010). Graduate Teaching Assistants’ Knowledge Development for Teaching a Novel Physics Curriculum. 24.
Gilmore, Joanna, Maher, Michelle, A., A, D., Timmerman, & Briana. (2014). Exploration of factors related to the development of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduate teaching assistants' teaching orientations. A Journal of Studies in Higher Education, 19.
Goertzen, Renee, M., Sherr, Rachell, E., Elby, & Andrew. (2010). Tutorial teaching assistants in the classroom: Similar teaching behaviors are supported by varied beliefs about teaching and learning. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 17.
Gonsalves, Allison, J., Harris, dik, McAlpine, & Lynn. (2009). The zones framework for both teaching and learning: application to graduate student teaching assistants. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 14.
Henderson, & Barbara. (2010). Mentorship of Graduate Teaching Assistants: Effects on instruction and a space for preparing to teach adults. Studying Teacher Education, 12.
Jeffrey, P. G. (2009). Strategies for Teaching Assistant and International Teaching Assistant Development: Beyond Micro Teaching – By Catherine Ross, Jane Dunphy, and Associates. 2.
Kinchin, Ian, M., Hatzipanagos, Stylianos, Turner, & Nancy. (2009). Epistemological separation of research and teaching among graduate teaching assistants. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 11.
Lachman, Nirusha, Christesen, Kevin, N., Pawlina, & Wojciech. (2013). Anatomy teaching assistants: Facilitating teaching skills for medical students through apprenticeship and mentoring. Journal of Medical Teacher, 7.
Miller, Kristen, rickman, eggy, liver, & J, S. (2014). Enhancing Teaching Assistants' (TAs') Inquiry Teaching by Means of Teaching Observations and Reflective Discourse. Journal of School Science and Mathematics, 13.
Nicole, M. (2011). Teaching Assistants’ Self-Efficacy in Teaching Literature: Sources, Personal Assessments, and Consequences. 20.
Saches, Teviah, E., & Timothy, M. (2015). See one, do one, and teach none: resident experience as a teaching assistant. Journal of Surgical Research, 8.
Trent, & John. (2014). ‘I’m teaching, but I’m not really a teacher’. Teaching assistants and the construction of professional identities in Hong Kong schools. Educational Research, 20.
Webstar, Rob, Blatchford, Peter, Russell, & Anthony. (2013). Challenging and changing how schools use teaching assistants: findings from the Effective Deployment of Teaching Assistants project. 19.
Williams, Keith, E., O'Connor, & Marie. (2012). The views of children and parents towards higher level teaching assistants who teach whole classes. Journal of Education 3-13, 15.
Xiao, C., Lin, W., Kaihua, G., Shu, L., Feng, L., Guoliang, C., & Li-Hua, Z. (2011). Postgraduate fellows as teaching assistants in human anatomy: An experimental teaching model at a Chinese research university. 4.
Ya-Ting, & C, y. (2008). A catalyst for teaching critical thinking in a large university class in Taiwan: asynchronous online discussions with the facilitation of teaching assistants. 24.