Graduate Teaching AssistantFacilitation of Online Courses as a Pathway to Future Online Instruction George B. Richardson, PhD Michael Brubaker, PhD Laura Nabors, PhD Renee Hawkins, PhD 2012 SLOAN-C Orlando, FL
Session ObjectivesExplore how graduate students’ perceiveonline teaching and learningExplore graduate students’ experiencesfacilitating online coursesExplore how faculty currently supportfacilitators as online instructors-in-trainingIdentify additional supports needed to makeonline facilitation a pathway to future onlineinstruction
ContextMore grad student teaching assistantsemployed part-time in response to: Increasing numbers of UG students Increasing resource constraintsIncreased opportunities for graduatestudent teaching Park (2004)
ContextBenefits of employing GTA’s Reduced teaching loads for academics Funding for grad students Teaching experience for grad students Apprenticeship opportunities for future instructors Park (2004)
GTA’s as Online Course FacilitatorsBenefits similar to f2f: Reduced loads for online instructors Funding for grad students Online instructional experience for grad students **Increased student engagement**
GTA’s as Online Course FacilitatorsHallmark of online instruction is student-to-student interaction Student opportunities for self-reflection and self-monitoring, which facilitate learningStudent facilitators contribute by: Participating in discussions Encouraging interaction and reflection Helping students answer questions on their own Hew and Cheung (2008)
GTA’s Need Special Skills to Facilitate Online CoursesNeed to be able to: Provide feedback and additional resources for further learning Create a friendly interactive environment Set ground rules Keep discussions focused Wang (2004)
Preparing Graduate Student Online FacilitatorsGTA’s will need: Little known about: Generic teaching skills What other supports training GTA’s need Online technologies Influence of facilitation training on GTA perceptions Ongoing support in How facilitation could their role as online serve as an course facilitator apprenticeship for future online instructors
Current StudyQuestions: What are graduate student’s perceptions of online teaching? What are graduate students’ perceptions of their experiences as online course facilitators? What are graduate students’ perceptions of the future of online undergraduate education? How are faculty currently supporting facilitators as online instructors-in-training? What additional supports are needed to make facilitation a pathway to future online instruction?
Procedures We recruited: Graduate students who had facilitated an online course within the past year. Instructors who had recently supervised graduate student facilitators in online courses. No incentives offered Participants completed brief surveys via Survey Monkey or using paper and pencil.*This study was reviewed by the University IRB and determined not tomeet criteria for human subjects research.
Participants (n = 10)7 graduate students who facilitated onlineundergraduate courses 4 facilitated School Psychology courses 3 facilitated Substance Abuse Counseling courses4 instructors who supervised thefacilitation of online undergrad courses
Data AnalysesQualitative Analysis Content analysis Research team identified themes that emerged from the interview questions
Perceptions of Online Teaching and LearningMost thought it was effective but some wereunsure. “its effective if implemented well” Discussions can be more thoughtful in online boardsAll thought online T&L will become moreprevalent in the future, due to: Accessibility and flexibility Convenience Flexibility in presentation of material
Perceptions of Online Teaching and LearningStudents also perceived weaknesses inonline T&L Lacks informal interaction More difficult to build rapport Cheating is a big problem Instructors may be easier to manipulate
“Although there are discussion boards, they tend to not be as fluid or immediate.” “Another possible weakness is in the area of examination where there isless accountability and higher risks of academic dishonesty.”
Facilitator Perceptions of FacilitationAll participants reported favorable overallexperiences with facilitation. Relationship with instructor was important Accessible Clear expectations Open communication Increased technological proficiency Familiarity with course management system (i.e., Blackboard) Acquisition of content knowledge New content or mastery of familiar content
Facilitation as Pathway to Online InstructionAll participants favored facilitation as apathway to online instruction. Cited increased familiarity with course management systems as a huge benefit. i.e., Blackboard 4 of 7 facilitators reported future plans to teach online.
“I think it makes perfect sense. I appreciate the opportunity to be exposed to the field in a progressive sense – working my way up from grader, to facilitator, to instructor.”
Current Instructor SupportsInstructors see their role as: Providing startup support Addressing questions or problems Supporting facilitators in the process of ongoing course development Selecting students with content expertise and technological savvySubstantial variation exists in supportsprovided by instructors
Additional Supports NeededTechnical Formal Blackboard/technical training for those not already receiving thisTraining in Instructional Design Objectives, lectures, activities, assessments, etc.Enhanced relationships with instructors through: More effective instructor communication Clear expectations Instructional style Teaching Philosophy Partnerships or apprenticeships Develop content in tandem
DiscussionGeneral Teaching Practices: Effective communication between instructor and facilitator Importance of the instructor setting expectationsThese lessons manifest differently online: Discussion boards, rubrics, electronic communication
DiscussionBuilding technology competencies: Blackboard (grading, managing discussion boards, building quizzes, creating/editing modules) Course design skills (alignment of course and weekly objectives) Accessing and utilizing university resources (training, video production) Electronic communication
DiscussionScaffolding Effect Students have a chance to build skills slowly and not be overwhelmed Learning Management System (LMS) appears to be biggest hurdle Clear pathway to instruction established
DiscussionNuanced Perceptions of Online Education Understanding of general strengths and limitations Awareness of future trends Understanding that effectiveness depends on implementation
DiscussionOpportunities for Improving Training More extensive Blackboard/technical training from School (not University) Helping instructors to understand their role with these students in training Apprenticeship/partnership (explore development opportunities) Leadership functions (setting expectations, making style and philosophy explicit)
LimitationsLimited sample Few survey respondents – low response rate Preservation of anonymity prevented collection of demographic dataData collection procedures were limited inscope Surveys did now allow for interview – participant interaction.
Future DirectionsMore extensive data collection Larger sample Variety of disciplines Collection of demographic data Use of incentives to boost response rateExplore the impact of online coursefacilitation of future online instruction
Selected ReferencesAhern, J., Stuber, J., & Galea, S. (2007). Stigma, discrimination and the health of illicit drug users. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 88, 188-196.Hew, K. F., & Cheung, W. S. (2008). Attracting student participation in asynchronous online discussions: A case study of peer facilitation. Computers and Education, 51, 1111-1124.Hislop, G. E. (2009). The inevitability of teaching online. IEEE Intelligent Systems, pp. 94-96.Kelly, R. (2012). Using student facilitators in the online classroom. Online cl@assroom: Ideas for Effective Instruction. ISSN: 15462625Wang, Q. (2004). Student facilitator’s roles in moderating online discussions. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39, 859-874.U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Education, and Policy Development (2009). Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Studies. Washington, D. C.
Contact Information for PresentersGeorge Richardson, Ph.D.firstname.lastname@example.orgMichael D. Brubaker, Ph.D.email@example.comLaura Nabors, Ph.D.firstname.lastname@example.orgRenee Hawkins, Ph.D.email@example.com