We have been gathering models of GTA PD and putting them on a dropbox site. Contact us if you have ideas to share, or want to be linked to the dropbox folder.
GTA professional development (PD) has really only been around since the 1960s at academic institutions. In some respects, it is not surprising that there are few national models for what PD to promote innovative teaching would look like within an institutional context.
As of 1997, the most commonly-used national model for GTA PD was none (Rushin et al., 1997). The second most common is the 2-3 day pre-semester graduate student teaching orientation / workshop. Since these focus almost exclusively on basic instructional skills, they may have little influence on innovative teaching practices.
The literature advocates a handful of practices that have potential to improve GTA teaching (Abbot, Wulff, and Szego, 1989; Lawson, Rissing, and Faeth, 1990; Kirk and Todd-Mancillas, 1991):
- peer or faculty ongoing support
- reflection / consultation about student teaching evaluations
- observations or videotaping with consultation
- continuous PD over time
- formal coursework to become familiar with learning theories
One opportunity for PD that many schools do not take advantage of is the weekly lab preparation meeting. Reformatting these sessions to focus more on effective teaching practice and less on reviewing equipment and procedures may be gateway to improving GTA practice.
BioTAP is looking for universities who are trying new models of PD, and particularly for those who think their programs are working! We would like to gather these examples to form a national model(s) for what professional development SHOULD look like across the nation.
Contact Beth if you think your school has a model to share with others!