THE STUDENT BECOMES THE TEACHER: UTILIZING TEACHING ASSISTANTS IN A 2YC CLASSROOM TO IMPROVE UNDERSTANDING AND INCREASE RETENTION PRIOR TO TRANSFER
Each week students attended a pre-lab preparatory meeting, assisted during the 3-hour laboratory meeting, completed a brief post-lab summary, and held a tutoring hour for students. Additionally, each student co-led the class during two field trips, independently instructed an in-depth lesson to accompany a laboratory exercise on seismology and epicenter location, and completed a final reflection paper focusing on the successes and challenges of his/her experience as a teaching assistant.
Teaching assistants were given ‘surprise’ lab exams prior to the start and at the end of the semester to identify shifts in knowledge of course content. Assessments showed an average improvement of 16% on content related to earth material identification, 8% in map reading and interpretation, and 38% of content related to field trips. Qualitatively, teaching assistants reported shifts in metacognition, self-perception, improvements in confidence, and a more thorough understanding of teaching as a profession. These quantitative and qualitative characteristics likely increase chances of success at 4-year transfer institutions.
A survey of enrolled Physical Geology students regarding their teaching assistants was overwhelmingly positive. All 57 students indicated that having a teaching assistant improved their lab experience, suggesting that it significantly decreased their “wait time” for lab assistance. While most Physical Geology students enroll in the course for general education credit, this project served to keep geology majors engaged and current with introductory course content as they worked to complete related requirements prior to transfer.