Teaching Assistant Training Programs as a Vital Component of Broadening Participation
Thursday, September 17, 2020 — 1:30PM - 2:15PM
At James Madison University (JMU), Teaching Assistants(TAs) help fill the gaps as students build and maintain their support network between (1) support from family members and friends, (2) support from instructors, and (3) Institutional support (dean of students office, generic learning centers/strategies support, disability support, diversity center, university advisors). Anecdotal evidence indicates the help provided by TAs on both course content and as a support network have a significant positive impact on under-represented students. In our efforts under the National Center For Women in Technology (NCWIT) Extension Services project, we expanded our teaching assistant program to include training as is considered best practice in the literature [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8]. This training takes place in a four-hour pre-semester training and weekly hour-long meetings through-out the semester. In addition to sharing specific examples of our implementation, how it prioritizes diversity and inclusion, and compares to other programs, we will have focused small-group discussions about opportunities and challenges in implementing such a program. We intend to encourage discussion and enable participants to leave with knowledge of critical components and questions for their own program. We will invite participants to (1) share their plans for the next steps for their TA programs to further foster diversity and inclusion and (2) remain in contact with the organizers and other participants to have a support network in making changes at their institutions.
Dee A. B. Weikle, Michael C. Stewart, Sharon J. Simmons