Empowering Teaching Assistants to Support Students: Impact of Training and Experience on Perceptions and Practices
Teaching assistants (TAs) have a major impact on the undergraduate science student experience, and therefore training TAs is critical to support engagement and learning. We ran a one-day TA training program for two years and found that participation in the program increased TAs’ reflective practice and student-centered teaching over a semester of teaching. Open-ended pre-survey responses indicated that in addition to wanting to learn pedagogical approaches, TAs sought help managing challenging situations and student behaviour. Post-surveys confirmed that the program fulfilled most learning goals of TAs and they subsequently applied the new teaching approaches. Participants indicated high levels of empowerment within their teaching roles across the cognitions of impact, competence and meaningfulness, but low self-determination. All aspects of empowerment increased with experience.