Putting TAs into Context: Understanding the graduate mathematics teaching assistant
AuthorBelnap, Jason Knight
graduate teaching assistant
Committee ChairCivil, Marta
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis yearlong dissertation study focused on understanding the experiences of domestic graduate mathematics teaching assistants (GMTAs) and the context in which they shape and develop their teaching views and practices. The intent of the study was to detail the teaching development of several GMTAs, determine the impact that their preparation programs had on their teaching, and identify other sources that influenced their teaching practices. Utilizing qualitative research methodology, consisting of interviews substantiated by observations, eight GMTAs were purposively selected and studied. Analysis provided the following findings.GMTAs are not a homogenous group; they bring with them different experiences, knowledge, preparation, and attitudes, all of which influence the way that they teach. In addition, a number of factors, many of which are external, played strong roles in shaping GMTAs' teaching practices. This study both identifies such factors and describes how they impacted the GMTAs' teaching practices.Preparation (training) programs were among these factors. Preparation programs can impact the teaching practices of GMTAs. This impact, however, is affected by the influence of other factors (such as course structure, time management, and limited pedagogical knowledge), which can support, constrain, or even counter-act the impact of training programs; this provides insight into why research has found programs to have limited impact on GMTAs' teaching. Furthermore, GMTAs are not always aware of the ways in which these programs impact their teaching; positive testimonials and attitudes toward training do not guarantee influence or impact on teaching practices, nor do negative ones; this suggests caution in using interviews as the sole basis for the evaluation of training programs.This dissertation provides detailed data stories for three of the participants. A list of factors and discussion of how they impacted their teaching practices is given. Some connections are made to research on K-12 teacher preparation. It shows the need for extended GMTA preparation programs, programs which provide significant instructional knowledge and which include guided instructional practices. For researchers, it shows the need to include classroom observations when studying and evaluating preparation programs, discussing the limitations of solely interview based findings.