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Master Graduate Teaching Fellows: An Evaluation of One Research University's Pilot Program to Improve STEM Teaching and Learning

Abstract

This paper presents an evaluation of a Master Graduate Teaching Fellows (MGTF) program at a public flagship research university. The MGTF program was part of a broader P-20 science education initiative funded through the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program. The MGTF program sought to enhance the capacity for teaching excellence in graduate students in the sciences through the provision of intensive professional development and peer mentoring. MGTFs were assigned to lower-level science courses which traditionally enroll large numbers of first-year undergraduate students and employ large numbers of graduate teaching assistants (TAs). In addition to their own professional development and teaching responsibilities, MGTFs were responsible for mentoring new TAs, providing direct support to struggling TAs, administering mid-term and end-of-term TA evaluations, running weekly TA meetings, revising lab manuals and other instructional materials for their courses, and delivering professional development workshops for TAs. Fellows received 12-months of funding at current departmental stipend levels, including tuition and fees.
This paper focuses on the MGTF program during its pilot year of implementation, and its effects on participants, the courses they taught, and the fellow graduate students they mentored. The goals of the pilot were the following: to develop capacity for excellence in teaching for future STEM faculty; to provide peer support and instruction to novice STEM TAs to build increased capacity for future STEM teaching; to pilot and evaluate a TA peer mentoring system for lower-level STEM laboratory courses; and to develop and pilot a set of general professional development workshops for STEM TAs.

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