Sarah Mayes-Tang

Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Mathematics, Faculty of Arts & Science

Title: Developing Teacher Identity and Self-Efficacy in Teaching Assistants Within a Large Calculus Course

Research Focus: My project centers on professional development for Teaching Assistants (TAs). I coordinate a large first-year calculus course with teams of up to 45 TAs. There is little evidence about what types of in-course support helps to develop teacher identity and self-efficacy within a large team of TAs, particularly in the Canadian context. Last year, I instituted weekly meetings for the TAs in this course. Each meeting includes about 10-15 TAs and is led by a Head TA. The meetings consist of collaborative tutorial preparation and a “mini-workshop” on a topic relevant to the work of TAs. In order to evaluate the impact of these meetings, I am pursuing research on the question: “How does participating in weekly TA meetings impact teaching practices, teaching self-efficacy, and teacher identity?”

Study Design: I designed a survey for teaching assistants largely based on the validated STEM GTA Teaching Self-Efficacy Instrument and invited all of the TAs in the Fall 2018 cohort to participate in the survey at the beginning and end of their teaching assignment. Depending on the results of this survey and informal feedback about the structure of the meetings, I may add to my project by conducting focus groups with TAs or analyzing the growth of certain TAs in the Spring of 2018.

Impact: This project aims to increase our understanding of this issue while designing programs to improve the learning of TAs – who are students themselves – which will in turn improve the quality of instruction in the large first-year course they work in.

SoTL Cohort Poster presented at the 2019 Teaching and Learning Symposium