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Abstract Details

Activity Number: 508
Type: Contributed
Date/Time: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 : 10:30 AM to 12:20 PM
Sponsor: Section on Statistical Education
Abstract - #304000
Title: Training Graduate or Advanced Undergraduate Students to Be Effective Teaching Assistants in Undergraduate Introductory Statistics Classes
Author(s): Nancy Pfenning*+
Companies: University of Pittsburgh
Address: 2316 Shady Ave, Pittsburgh, PA, 15217, United States
Keywords: Teaching ; Assistant ; Training ; Undergraduate ; Introductory ; Statistics

A typical university provides introductory statistics classes for large numbers of undergraduates. Many schools utilize graduate (or advanced undergraduate) students as instructors for lab or recitation classes that supplement lectures taught by a professor. New teaching assistants--and, consequently, their students--can benefit greatly from a training seminar that addresses specific challenges that they face in what is often their first teaching experience. The author describes a highly effective training course that incorporates a variety of elements: software instruction, grading issues, interacting professionally with both lecturers and students, profitting from the expertise of more experienced TAs, strategies to succeed if English is their second language, and--most importantly--performing optimally as a lab or small-classroom instructor. A major component of the course consists of brief peer-evaluated teaching demos by all of the TAs, with subsequent feedback provided by the training seminar instructor. Additional training in more general public speaking skills, such as those needed in a PhD defense or a job talk, is mentioned as a possible enhancement to such a course.

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