Dr. Heinrich and his team just received news that their proposal “Evolving the culture of biology: Promoting graduate teaching assistant professional development to foster inclusion, efficacy, and evidence-based practices” was funded by the National Science Foundation Division of Undergraduate Education. The project focuses on developing training for graduate teaching assistants (TAs) to engage in intentional, inclusive, evidence-based teaching practices. Most undergraduates that begin college intending to earn a STEM degree drop out of their STEM programs before graduating. This may be due in part to a lack of quality instruction. Many current faculty were never trained in pedagogy, and likewise, there is a deficit of programming designed to improve the teaching of TAs (current instructors and future faculty). This project will develop, facilitate, and evaluate a series of regional workshops to enhance Teaching Assistant Teaching Professional Development (TA-TPD) programs. Specifically, there are three interconnected objectives: 1) Develop regional workshops that will host workshop ECB Scholars from at least ten unique institutions, reaching a vast number of institutions over the four years, while reducing expenses for travel; 2) Engage each ECB Scholar to participate in a contextually rooted reflective process to develop or enhance existing the TA-TPD activities at their institutions; and 3) Evaluate the efficacy of workshops and TA-TPD using a mixed methods research design for formative and summative purposes and the generation of knowledge.
There is an ongoing need to improve the state of biology education and the ultimate goal of this work is to facilitate the development of evidence-based, inclusive TA-TPD on a large scale such that the landscape of biology education is transformed. The research team is made up of Erin Shortlidge at Portland State University, Kaleb Heinrich at the University of Alabama, Star Lee at the University of California, Irvine, Stephanie Gutzler at Georgia State University, and Adam Chouinard at Oregon State University. You can read more about this upcoming research at NSF.