1. Sehoya Cotner
  2. https://cbs.umn.edu/cotner-lab
  3. Associate Professor
  4. Building Excellence in Scientific Teaching (BEST)
  5. University of Minnesota
  1. Hillary Barron
  2. Graduate Research Assistant
  3. Building Excellence in Scientific Teaching (BEST)
  4. University of Minnesota
  1. Lorelei Patrick
  2. Postdoctoral Researcher
  3. Building Excellence in Scientific Teaching (BEST)
  4. University of Minnesota
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Sehoya Cotner

    Sehoya Cotner

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 07:52 a.m.

    Welcome! Lori Patrick, Hillary Barron, and I (Sehoya Cotner) welcome any thoughts about how best to engage teaching assistants in Scientific Teaching. 

  • Icon for: Roxane Ronca

    Roxane Ronca

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 13, 2019 | 02:03 p.m.

    Hello

    Do you have the modules, syllabuses or other resources that departments could access to reproduce your efforts?

  • Icon for: Sehoya Cotner

    Sehoya Cotner

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 05:33 p.m.

    Hi Roxane, we're working on making everything available. Right now, I can share our Spring training modules (distributed throughout the semester): https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/12tgtYBB...

    Please let me know if you have any questions!

    All the best,

    Sehoya

  • Icon for: Steven McGee

    Steven McGee

    Researcher
    May 14, 2019 | 12:10 p.m.

    What a great program. It is great that TAs are being exposed to high quality teaching strategies as many of these will also become future professors. It would be great if you could track the longer term impact of the program on the teaching practices of the TAs as they become professors.

  • Icon for: Sehoya Cotner

    Sehoya Cotner

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 12:17 p.m.

    Agreed, and thanks for watching, Steven. One issue is that most of our TAs (70%) are undergraduate students (teaching their own lab sections...they do a great job!), so the goal isn't really to train future professors in that case. However, I do wonder how much this experience shapes their plans for the future...

  • Icon for: Ronald Greenberg

    Ronald Greenberg

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 14, 2019 | 01:36 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing. It will be great when you have a full set of resources to share for training of traditional TAs, much of which could also be helpful in other contexts. In the work in the video I have co-presented with "TAs" sent to high schools, we make heavy reliance on the students working under close supervision of a classroom teacher.

     
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    Sehoya Cotner
  • Icon for: Jay Labov

    Jay Labov

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 03:53 p.m.

     Thank you very much for preparing and submitting this video. The questions posted thus far are very similar to the ones I would have asked you. Based on the name of this program that includes "Scientific Teaching," am I correct in assuming that it is based on some of the premises from the book "Scientific Teaching" by Jo Handelsman et al. at the University of Wisconsin - Madison [can be read online by clicking on the link in this sentence]?  I ask this question primarily to make viewers more aware of the insights that are contained in that publication (supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute).

    Are you also planning to collect any data about whether the ways that students who are taught by these different groups of TAs differ in any ways? That's the ultimate test of the efficacy of an intervention. 

     
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    Sehoya Cotner
  • Icon for: Sehoya Cotner

    Sehoya Cotner

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 03:58 p.m.

    Absolutely to both questions. The training was designed around the core principles of Scientific Teaching (ST): inclusivity, active learning, and assessment. But, to be honest, we predominantly emphasize inclusive teaching in the weekly modules that follow our pre-semester ST training.

    We are currently drowning in data and thus far have primarily focused on TA behaviors and affect. However, yes!, we definitely plan to look closely at the student experience, and whether it varies as a function of TA training. 

    Thanks for watching and commenting!

  • Icon for: Gabriela Weaver

    Gabriela Weaver

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 14, 2019 | 08:36 p.m.

    The BEST project sounds extremely applicable for the needs of many STEM departments with large courses and grad students who are assigned to teaching roles.  Do you think that some of the insights you will gain about training TA's may be applicable to training faculty?  For example, your video notes that the evidence for different teaching practices did not motivate TA's to use these practices.  Yet, many educational change agents feel that faculty want to see the "evidence" before they would be willing to use a teaching approach.  I'm wondering if your findings can provide some insight into that conundrum.

  • Icon for: Sehoya Cotner

    Sehoya Cotner

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 08:05 a.m.

    We're wondering the same thing! However, we have a few caveats: one, the majority of our TAs are undergraduate students who have gone to our institution, where active learning and assessment (if not always inclusive teaching) are pretty standard. Maybe that level of exposure has made them so accepting of evidence-based pedagogy that convincing them of its evidentiary basis is not necessary. 

    Also, we find that as the TAs progress, their interest in pedagogy changes. Perhaps not surprisingly, during the first semester of teaching, they are concerned about the mechanics of leading a lab section, but in following semesters they start to express concerns about managing group dynamics, being more inclusive, effectively facilitating inquiry, etc. Maybe it's the same with faculty. Perhaps programs that highlight nuanced pedagogical approaches will be best received by faculty with a semester or several under their belt.

    Regardless, it's a testable hypothesis! Thanks for watching and commenting, Gabriela.

  • Icon for: Ivory Toldson

    Ivory Toldson

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2019 | 12:19 p.m.

    Hello All! My name is Ivory Toldson, professor at Howard University, president of Quality Education for Minorities, and one of the facilitators for the STEM for All Video Showcase. The conversation is off to a great start and I will be chiming in with my own input this afternoon and over the next few days. I'm excited about what we can achieve for the next generation of STEM learners!

     
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    Sehoya Cotner
  • Icon for: Ivory Toldson

    Ivory Toldson

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2019 | 04:10 p.m.

    I think that this topic is very important. Teaching Assistants play a critical role in the classroom and perform better when they are more prepared. Gaining these insights should allow for just that. I would assume that the understanding of what best assist TA's with learning evidence-based teaching practices is not only beneficial for the TA but also the students that they interact with. Have you been able to measure any subsequent effects of student performance? Is that something that you are interested in for future directions?

  • Icon for: Sehoya Cotner

    Sehoya Cotner

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 08:57 a.m.

    Ivory, we are definitely interested in that question, and are exploring student performance and affect (self-efficacy, project ownership of the lab-based research projects, performance, impressions of the TA, etc.). Statistically, it's difficult because we can't treat each student as an individual, really, so once we employ a nested hierarchy any differences b/t the TA get muddy. However, we are trying to disentangle the student experience between the different types of lab sections, based on TA training in ST. I'd love any advice on how best to do this!

    Thanks for the input.

  • Icon for: Judith Dilts

    Judith Dilts

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2019 | 11:05 p.m.

    This is a great program -- that TA's know what to do is often just assumed so providing training is excellent. Also, the evidence-based approach and inclusive teaching focus is very important. I was wondering a couple of things: 1. Are all TA's automatically in the program or is there a selection process? Are faculty consulted about having their TA's involved? 2. Is there a workshop to help faculty understand the training their TA's will receive? Is there any interaction between the faculty and TA around this program? Do you encounter a disconnect between the way a faculty member would like the TA to teach and what you all are recommending?

  • Icon for: Sehoya Cotner

    Sehoya Cotner

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 09:05 a.m.

    Judith, such great questions!

    1. All TAs in our introductory series (~100) are encouraged to participate, and TAs in our non-majors sequence (~50) are required to participate. There are several reasons for this, chief among them the fact that our non-majors TAs are the ones that have the most autonomy, and are the primary instructors for each lab section. Many of the faculty in the non-majors courses are not very involved in the lab, and those that are involved in the lab curriculum are also involved in BEST. We got department-level buy-in when we were requesting funding from NSF, but sometimes we do have to remind people of this...

    2. We've not done a workshop for faculty, and suspect that for some of the faculty (those uninvolved in the lab), the suggestion to do so would be met with reluctance. 

    Sometimes we do encounter a disconnect between the teaching practices of the faculty member of record (e.g., predominantly lecturing and summative assessment in lecture) and those we are trying to cultivate in our TAs. However, we've not experienced push-back from the faculty members. 

    Thanks for watching and commenting.

  • Icon for: Molly Phillips

    Molly Phillips

    iDigBio Education, Outreach and Diversity Coordinator
    May 16, 2019 | 09:56 a.m.

    I think the focus on science teaching assistants is really great. Not only are you potentially improving student experience, but also influencing graduate students at a crucial time in the professional development.  Do you have any plans to follow the careers of the participating TAs to measure possible impacts as a result of their training experience? Thanks so much for sharing your work.

  • Icon for: Sehoya Cotner

    Sehoya Cotner

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 09:08 a.m.

    Molly, thanks for the feedback. This week, and feedback on this forum, has certainly clarified that we need to think seriously about longitudinal assessment of the program. At a minimum, we can ask TAs--in the program and not--how likely they are to pursue teaching opportunities in the future! Most of our TAs are undergraduate students, so we can't make the same assumptions as we would if they were grad students (i.e., that they might be considering faculty positions).

    Thanks for watching and commenting.

  • Icon for: Sehoya Cotner

    Sehoya Cotner

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 09:08 a.m.

    Molly, thanks for the feedback. This week, and feedback on this forum, has certainly clarified that we need to think seriously about longitudinal assessment of the program. At a minimum, we can ask TAs--in the program and not--how likely they are to pursue teaching opportunities in the future! Most of our TAs are undergraduate students, so we can't make the same assumptions as we would if they were grad students (i.e., that they might be considering faculty positions).

    Thanks for watching and commenting.  

  • Icon for: Sehoya Cotner

    Sehoya Cotner

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 09:08 a.m.

    Molly, thanks for the feedback. This week, and feedback on this forum, has certainly clarified that we need to think seriously about longitudinal assessment of the program. At a minimum, we can ask TAs--in the program and not--how likely they are to pursue teaching opportunities in the future! Most of our TAs are undergraduate students, so we can't make the same assumptions as we would if they were grad students (i.e., that they might be considering faculty positions).

    Thanks for watching and commenting.  

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.