April 16, 2013
Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) provide much of the small-class instruction (labs and discussions) for large introductory courses at many universities. Given this pivotal role in courses critical to student retention, and the fact that many of these GTAs will be the faculty of tomorrow, promoting the instructional abilities of GTAs should be a national priority. In particular, providing professional development that supports innovative pedagogies could further instructional reform at universities. However, the reality of research-focused graduate programs often interferes with the development of GTA teaching identities.
The NSF-funded Research Coordination Network in Undergraduate Biology Education Incubator "BioTAP" addresses the challenge of GTA professional development in the context of biology graduate programs. Elizabeth Schussler, Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, is the principle investigator. The goal of BioTAP is to form a network of individuals who will identify the innovative instructional skills needed by GTAs, and suggest efficient and effective models for GTA professional development.
If you are invested in enhancing GTA professional development, join the BioTAP network.