טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentAvital-Levi Orit
SubjectDeveloping, Implementing and Researching a Teaching
Assistants Training Program in the Technion
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisors Professor Mordechai Frank
Dr. Avigail Barzilai
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

Developing TAs' teaching skills may help promote students’ learning and increase the satisfaction they get from teaching. Likewise, this may also raise the TAs’ level of self-satisfaction as teachers and encourage them to continue developing professionally in their field. The current study deals with a Teaching Assistants (TAs) training program in the Technion. In most institutions of higher education TA training takes the form of a two-day teaching workshop. This method of TA training is perceived more as a compilation of tips and techniques that can be implemented in the classroom, rather than as broad discipline with a theoretical and practical knowledge. Within the framework of these constraints, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching has developed a program for training TAs. This training program is comprised of a combination of general pedagogical training and disciplinary pedagogical training. The program includes training for teaching, a mentoring program in the first semester, which includes visits to ‘real’ classes and provides feedback, workshops, and collaboration between TAs and faculty.

The research objective in the current study was to identify the teaching attitudes of novice TAs and to examine the effects of the teaching program on the changes in their teaching and on their perception towards teaching. The following research questions were derived from the study's objectives:

a)      Did changes occur in the teaching of the TAs who participated in the training program and if so, in what way?

b)      Did changes occur in the teaching perceptions of the TAs who participated in the training program and if so, in what way?

The research sample included 12 new TAs from the faculty of Computer Science and 18 TAs from the faculty of Math: some were novices, while others were veterans who had been recommended for the training program by the faculty.

Data gathering tools included: (1) questionnaires that examined changes in teaching, teaching approaches, and in the development of the TAs who participated in the training process. (2) Semi-structured interviews that examined whether there was a development in the TAs' teaching. (3) Observations that examined the TAs' behavior during the exercise class. The analysis of the data revealed that TAs' classroom teaching improved as a result of the TA training program. Moreover we observed a trend of change in the TAs' teaching attitudes about the teaching process and teaching strategies, going from a teacher-focused attitude to an attitude that concentrates on the teacher-student interaction.