Graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants (TAs) are key players in large universities’ efforts to incorporate student-centered learning into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses. This paper investigates, through interviews, the perspectives of eight TAs employed within a First-Year Engineering course with a significant focus on open-ended problem solving. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that helped and hindered teaching assistants’ execution of their responsibilities which included grading and helping students. Engaging TAs in the open-ended problems prior to implementing them in class, face-to-face discussions, and face-to-face lectures were helpful components of training, and training overall was the crucial factor for helping TAs’ with their grading responsibilities. Prior knowledge, previous experiences, and intrinsic motivation were identified as helpful factors for TAs’ responsibilities with regards to helping students and student teams. The hindering factors primarily consisted of struggles with the heavy workload, time commitment, understanding the open-ended nature of the problems, and understanding the students’ solutions.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/hyunyi-jung/4/