1887

Uncovering Barriers to Teaching Assistants (TAs) Implementing Inquiry Teaching: Inconsistent Facilitation Techniques, Student Resistance, and Reluctance to Share Control over Learning with Students

    Authors: Cara Gormally1,*, Carol Subiño Sullivan2, Nadia Szeinbaum3
    VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: Gallaudet University, Department of Science, Technology, and Mathematics, Washington, DC 20002-3695; 2: Georgia Institute of Technology, Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, Atlanta, GA 30332; 3: Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Biology, Atlanta, GA 30332
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 04 May 2016
    • ©2016 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • Supplemental materials available at http://asmscience.org/jmbe
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Ave, Washington, DC 20002. Phone: 202-651-5219. E-mail: cara.gormally@gallaudet.edu.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2016 vol. 17 no. 2 215-224. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i2.1038
MyBook is a cheap paperback edition of the original book and will be sold at uniform, low price.
  • PDF
    489.73 Kb
  • XML
  • HTML
    69.96 Kb

    Abstract:

    Inquiry-based teaching approaches are increasingly being adopted in biology laboratories. Yet teaching assistants (TAs), often novice teachers, teach the majority of laboratory courses in US research universities. This study analyzed the perspectives of TAs and their students and used classroom observations to uncover challenges faced by TAs during their first year of inquiry-based teaching. Our study revealed three insights about barriers to effective inquiry teaching practices: 1) TAs lack sufficient facilitation skills; 2) TAs struggle to share control over learning with students as they reconcile long-standing teaching beliefs with newly learned approaches, consequently undermining their fledgling ability to use inquiry approaches; and 3) student evaluations reinforce teacher-centered behaviors as TAs receive positive feedback conflicting with inquiry approaches. We make recommendations, including changing instructional feedback to focus on learner-centered teaching practices. We urge TA mentors to engage TAs in discussions to uncover teaching beliefs underlying teaching choices and support TAs through targeted feedback and practice.

Key Concept Ranking

Spring
0.94639474
Inclusions
0.49140623
0.94639474

References & Citations

1. Beck C, Butler A, Burke da Silva K2014Promoting inquiry-based teaching in laboratory courses: are we meeting the grade?CBE Life Sci Educ13444452251852284152206
2. Beck C, Blumer L2012Inquiry-based ecology laboratory courses improve student confidence and scientific reasoning skillsEcosphere311110.1890/ES12-00280.1 http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/ES12-00280.1
3. Brickman P, Gormally C, Armstrong N, Hallar B2009Effects of inquiry-based learning on students’ science literacy skills and confidenceIntl J Scholar Teach Learn3Article 16
4. Bryan LA2003Nestedness of beliefs: examining a prospective elementary teacher’s belief system about science teaching and learningJ Res Sci Teach4083586810.1002/tea.10113 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.10113
5. Carnegie Foundation2010The Carnegie classification of institutions of higher education[Online.] http://classifications.carnegiefoundation.orgaccessed 8 July 2014
6. Cooney T1985A beginning teacher’s view of problem solvingJ Res Math Educ1632433610.2307/749355 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/749355
7. Corbin J, Strauss A2008Basics of qualitative research3rd editionSage PublicationsThousand Oaks, CA
8. Crawford BA, Lunetta V2002Promoting the development of a personal philosophy of teaching in prospective secondary science teachersPenn Teach Educ16874
9. Crawford B2007Learning to teach science as inquiry in the rough and tumble of practiceJ Res Sci Teach4461364210.1002/tea.20157 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.20157
10. Ebert-May D, Brewer C, Allred S1997Innovation in large lectures: teaching for active learningBioscience4760160710.2307/1313166 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1313166
11. Gardner G, Jones G2011Pedagogical preparation of the science graduate teaching assistant: challenges and implicationsSci Educ203141
12. Gormally C, Brickman P, Hallar B, Armstrong N2011Lessons learned from developing and assessing an inquiry-based college science curriculumJ Coll Sci Teach402632
13. Kennedy MM1999The role of preservice teacher education5486 Darling-Hammond L, Sykes GTeaching as the learning profession: handbook of teaching and policyJossey BassSan Francisco, CA
14. Laird TN, Shourp R, Kuh GD, Kuhand Schwarz M2008The effects of discipline on deep approaches to student learning and college outcomesRes Higher Educ4946949410.1007/s11162-008-9088-5 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11162-008-9088-5
15. Luft JA, Kurdziel JP, Roehrig GH, Turner J2004Growing a garden without water: graduate teaching assistants in introductory science laboratories at a doctoral/research universityJ Res Sci Teach4121123310.1002/tea.20004 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.20004
16. Luft JA, Roehrig GH2007Capturing science teachers’ epistemological beliefs and knowledge in the adoption of a reform-based curriculumElec J Sci Educ113863
17. Marshall JC, Horton B, White C2009EQUIPping teachers: a protocol to guide and improve inquiry-based instructionSci Teach764653
18. McGinnis JR, Parker C, Graeber AO2004A cultural perspective of the induction of five reform-minded beginning mathematics and science teachersJ Res Sci Teach4172074710.1002/tea.20022 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.20022
19. Miles MB, Huberman AM1994Qualitative data analysisSage Publications, IncThousand Oaks, CA
20. Minner DD, Levy AJ, Century J2010Inquiry-based science instruction– what is it and does it matter? Results from a research synthesis years 1984–2002J Res Sci Teach4747449610.1002/tea.20347 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.20347
21. Newman WJJr, Abell SK, Hubbard PD, McDonald J, Otaala J, Martini M2004Dilemmas of teaching inquiry in elementary science methodsJ Sci Teach Educ1525727910.1023/B:JSTE.0000048330.07586.d6 http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/B:JSTE.0000048330.07586.d6
22. Pajares MF1992Teachers’ beliefs and educational research: cleaning up a messy constructRev Educ Res62330733210.3102/00346543062003307 http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/00346543062003307
23. Prosser M, Trigwell K2006Confirmatory factor analysis of the approaches to teaching inventoryBrit J Educ Psychol7640541910.1348/000709905X4357116719971 http://dx.doi.org/10.1348/000709905X43571
24. Saldaña J2013The coding manual for qualitative researchers2nd editionSage PublishersThousand Oaks, CA
25. Spronken-Smith RW, Batchelor J, O’Steen B, Antelo T2011Enablers and constraints to the use of inquiry based learning in undergraduate educationTeach Higher Educ16152810.1080/13562517.2010.507300 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2010.507300
26. Sundberg MD, Armstrong JE, Wischusen EW2005Reappraisal of the status of introductory biology laboratory education in US colleges and universitiesAm Biol Teach6752552910.1662/0002-7685(2005)067[0525:AROTSO]2.0.CO;2 http://dx.doi.org/10.1662/0002-7685(2005)067[0525:AROTSO]2.0.CO;2
27. Trigwell K, Prosser M2004Development and use of the Approaches to Teaching InventoryEduc Psychol Rev1640942410.1007/s10648-004-0007-9 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10648-004-0007-9
28. Trigwell K, Prosser M, Ginns P2005Phenomenographic pedagogy and a revised Approaches to Teaching InventoryHigher Educ Res Dev2434936010.1080/07294360500284730 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07294360500284730
29. Utschig TT, Carnasciali M, Subiño Sullivan C2014Helping teaching assistants foster student-centered learningIntl J Proc Educ6320
30. Varelas M, House R, Wenzel S2005Beginning teachers immersed into science: scientist and science teacher identitiesSci Educ8949251610.1002/sce.20047 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sce.20047
31. Volkmann MJ, Zgagacz M2004Learning to teach physics through inquiry: the lived experience of a graduate teaching assistantJ Res Sci Teach4158460210.1002/tea.20017 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.20017
32. Walker JD, Cotner SH, Baepler PM, Decker MD2008A delicate balance: integrating active learning into a large lecture courseCBE Life Sci Educ736136710.1187/cbe.08-02-0004190474232592041 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.08-02-0004
33. Wallace C, Kang N2004An investigation of experienced secondary science teachers’ beliefs about inquiry: an examination of competing belief setsJ Res Sci Teach4193696010.1002/tea.20032 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.20032
34. Windschitl M2003Inquiry projects in science teacher education: what can investigative experiences reveal about teacher thinking and eventual classroom practice?Sci Educ8711214310.1002/sce.10044 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sce.10044
35. Winter D, Lemons P, Bookman J, Hoese W2001Novice instructors and student-centered instruction: identifying and addressing obstacles to learning in the college science laboratoryJ Scholar Teach Learn21542
36. Wirth KR, Perkins D2005Knowledge surveys: an indispensable course design and assessment toolPresented at Innovations in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Liberal Arts CollegesSt. Olaf, MN
37. Wyse SA, Long TM, Ebert-May D2014Teaching assistant professional development in biology: designed for and driven by multi-dimensional dataCBE Life Sci Educ132122234041500
jmbe.v17i2.1038.citations
jmbe/17/2
content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v17i2.1038
Loading

Citations loading...

Supplemental Material

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v17i2.1038
2016-05-04
2017-06-23

Abstract:

Inquiry-based teaching approaches are increasingly being adopted in biology laboratories. Yet teaching assistants (TAs), often novice teachers, teach the majority of laboratory courses in US research universities. This study analyzed the perspectives of TAs and their students and used classroom observations to uncover challenges faced by TAs during their first year of inquiry-based teaching. Our study revealed three insights about barriers to effective inquiry teaching practices: 1) TAs lack sufficient facilitation skills; 2) TAs struggle to share control over learning with students as they reconcile long-standing teaching beliefs with newly learned approaches, consequently undermining their fledgling ability to use inquiry approaches; and 3) student evaluations reinforce teacher-centered behaviors as TAs receive positive feedback conflicting with inquiry approaches. We make recommendations, including changing instructional feedback to focus on learner-centered teaching practices. We urge TA mentors to engage TAs in discussions to uncover teaching beliefs underlying teaching choices and support TAs through targeted feedback and practice.

Highlighted Text: Show | Hide
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

/deliver/fulltext/jmbe/17/2/jmbe-17-215.xml.a.html?itemId=/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v17i2.1038&mimeType=html&fmt=ahah

Figures

Image of FIGURE 1

Click to view

FIGURE 1

Comparison of pre and post scores from the Knowledge Survey (KS): inquiry-related items only. Teaching assistants (TAs) indicated their confidence for each item on a scale of 1 to 3, with 3 indicating the most confidence. The scores shown represent averages for the 20 inquiry-related items. The pre and post Knowledge Survey questions were identical. TAs completed the pre-test prior to beginning the TA Prep course and the post-test on the final day of the course ( Appendix B , Knowledge Survey questions and instructions).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2016 vol. 17 no. 2 215-224. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i2.1038
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 2

Click to view

FIGURE 2

Learning Portfolio Artifact Analysis. We calculated the representation of assignment artifacts that teaching assistants (TAs) chose to include in their learning portfolios as compared with the actual representation of the items in the class. For example, while Active Learning was approximately 14% of the actual assignments offered during the class, TAs selected Active Learning assignments for 19% of the items in the learning portfolios. TAs chose to include more items about Inquiry, Active Learning, and Grading, indicating that TAs valued these content units. Alternatively, TAs rarely chose to include artifacts related to Policies/Professionalism.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2016 vol. 17 no. 2 215-224. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i2.1038
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 3

Click to view

FIGURE 3

Average pre- and post-semester scores from the Approaches to Teaching Inventory (ATI) ( 27 ). The ATI measures items on two key dimensions of teaching on a five-point Likert scale (5 being the most): Information Transmission/Teacher-focused (-axis) and Conceptual Change/Student-focused (-axis). Each teaching assistant’s average score is shown as well as the group average. Higher numbers indicate a stronger orientation towards a respective set of beliefs. Teaching assistants (TAs) made slight shifts, becoming slightly more learner-centered and teacher-centered in their beliefs.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2016 vol. 17 no. 2 215-224. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i2.1038
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 4

Click to view

FIGURE 4

Overall EQUIP scores from classroom observations made in fall 2012 and spring 2013. No score was available for Hai in fall 2012 due to poor video quality.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2016 vol. 17 no. 2 215-224. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i2.1038
Download as Powerpoint

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Please check the format of the address you have entered.
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error