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An NSF-Funded Research Coordination Network Incubator (DBI 1539903)


Principal investigator: Dr. Elisabeth Schussler, Associate Professor, University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Co-PIs, Grant Gardner (MTSU), Gili Marbach-Ad (Maryland), Kris Miller (Georgia), and Judy Ridgway (Ohio State)

The Biology Teaching Assistant Project (BioTAP) is a network of anyone interested in improving the teaching professional development (TPD) provided to biology graduate students.

Undergraduate institutions are under increasing pressure to improve teaching and learning in introductory science courses. Although much of the focus is on faculty instructional quality, a large majority of the one on one interaction at the introductory level is between undergraduates and graduate teaching assistants (GTAs).

Biology graduate students are important instructors of many biology classes, especially introductory courses that are critical gateways to student progression through their biology major. Despite this role, biology graduate teaching assistants are often not provided the level of professional development specific to teaching that would maximize student learning by all students.

The goal of BioTAP is to work with each other to improve TPD for all biology graduate students so that these GTAs can deliver the best possible teaching and learning environment for undergraduate students in their classes. Specifically though, we know that we cannot make improvements to TPD without empirical evidence about what works to improve teaching practice. To this end, our activities are focused on building capacity for conducting RESEARCH on GTA TPD within the community.

In 2013, the NSF funded an incubator project to start building a network to address concerns about GTA TPD. In 2015, BioTAP received five additional years of funding from the NSF to expand its network.

NSF funding for BioTAP has ended as of 2021, but the BioTAP network continues. For recent news and updates, see BioTAP’s new website: