TAs in the Virtual World: A Win-Win-Win-Win

Concurrent Session 4

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Virtual Teaching Assistants are consistent with the OLC’s Five Pillars of Quality Education and have been found to be a success at one fully online university. Recruitment, onboarding, responsibilities, data and best practices of a one-year TA Project will be discussed from the students’, TAs’, faculty, and administrative perspectives.


Dr. Armstrong serves as Academic Program Director of the School of Health Sciences undergraduate programs. She has represented Walden in a national radio tour on childhood obesity and family fitness. Her recent publications have been included in the American Journal of Health Education, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, and the Journal of American College Health. Dr. Armstrong is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences on health education priorities for online learners. Dr. Armstrong received the American Alliance of Health, P.E., Recreation and Dance’s Young Professional Leadership award in 2010. She helped implement Partners in Wellness, a cancer prevention/screening program for the underserved population in northwest Louisiana. A certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and running coach, Dr. Armstrong founded YOUth FIT and Kids on the Run, community programs that mentor kids in achieving and maintaining fitness.
Dr. Lupinski has an Ed.D. in education/health education from the University of Cincinnati; An M.S.in health education from the University of Kentucky, and a B.S. in public health from the University of North Carolina. Dr. Lupinski has been working in college health and education for more than 15 years. A former Director of Student Wellness at a University and also a full time professor, she has taught courses in health education, health promotion, and public health. Kirsten is CHES (Certified Health Education Specialist) certified. Dr. Lupinski has done extensive research, presentations and written publications in the areas of body image and eating disorders, school-age children and academic success and other health factors affecting college age students. She joined Walden’s faculty in 2015 as a contributing faculty member; teaching courses in the College of Health Sciences in the B.S. in Health Studies Program and acting as a lead faculty. In 2017 she became the program coordinator in the College of Health Sciences Undergraduate program at Walden University.
Marsha Kaufman, MS, Ph.D. Student of Health Education & Promotion - Walden University; Adjunct Professor - MidAmerica Nazarene University (Department of Health Sciences); Teaching Assistant - Walden University (College of Health Sciences). A diversified background with over 20 years in wellness, Marsha serves as an educator in a variety of settings to provide health education and promotion. In addition to the higher academic setting, she specializes in corporate wellness and military fitness & lifestyle. For 14 years, she served as a Master Trainer for a leading fitness organization promoting the certification standards to improve personal fitness training standards. Marsha holds an M.S. in Sports Medicine from the United States Sports Academy (Daphne, AL), and a B.A. in Business Management from Upper Iowa University (Fayette, IA). She is certified by numerous fitness industry-noted organizations (ACE, ACSM, AFAA, NASM, and NSCA-CSCS). She is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and IDEA (The Fitness Association for Fitness Professionals). In her free time, she enjoys running marathons and volunteering for organizations in support of advocating physical activities opportunities in her community.

Extended Abstract

Teaching Assistants (TAs) in the virtual world are not only consistent with the OLC’s Five Pillars of Quality Education (Online Learning Consortium, 2017), but have been found to be a win-win-win-win at one large, for-profit, fully online, accredited university. The School of Health Sciences (SHS) at Walden University implemented a Teaching Assistant (TA) project. Ten (n = 10) Ph.D.-level graduate students were hired by the SHS to provide teaching support to high-risk courses in the undergraduate (UG) programs. The TAs were assigned to faculty mentors each term and supported instructional delivery, evaluation, and communication. Background, recruitment, onboarding, division of course responsibilities, data, best practices and lessons learned from the one-year TA Project will be discussed from the students’, TAs’, faculty, and administrative perspectives.   

Audience engagement will occur through an interactive question and answer session and brainstorming activity. Participants will be given a worksheet and work in small groups to create a TA program at their respective schools/departments.  

Learning outcomes:

  1. Determine the impact the TA project had on undergraduate student persistence, engagement, and retention.

  2. Determine the benefits the TA project had on students, TAs, faculty, and administration.

  3. Develop an understanding of TA best practices from the student, TA, faculty, and administrative perspectives.

  4. Model a virtual TA program based on implementation and lessons learned.


Online Learning Consortium. (2017). Our quality framework. Retrieved April 12, 2017, from https://onlinelearningconsortium.org/about/quality-framework-five-pillars/