Applied Teaching Track: Developing Graduate Students’ Online Teaching Competencies

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Come explore the benefits of applying a competency-based approach to develop online teaching skills for graduate students. Opportunities are designed to enhance vocational self-efficacy and provide practical experience to support future career pathways. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on and discuss application in higher education and other institutions.


Amy L. Buechler-Steubing, M.A., is the Academic Director of the Center for Academic Success and Excellence at Capella University which includes tutoring, collaborative learning, writing, quantitative skills, and academic success resources. Before Capella, she was the training director for an education resource organization and middle school ESL teacher. Amy holds an M.A. in Adult and Higher Education Administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is currently pursuing her EdD in Educational Leadership and Management at Capella. She has presented at the College Reading and Learning Association and National College Learning Center Association national conferences regularly.
Dr. Genevieve Feliu serves as the Dean of the Division of Arts and Sciences and the Dean of Academic Success at Capella University. Dr. Feliu leads an innovation and incubation lab focused on evolving the academic model and the implementation of educational technology throughout the University. In the Academic Success department, she leads strategic initiatives related to writing across the curriculum, developing quantitative skills, learner employment opportunities and oversight, the University tutoring and supplemental instruction model, and the new student orientation experience.

Extended Abstract

Many graduate students express a desire to teach in higher education. Providing experiential opportunities for graduate students while involved in instructional support roles is an important part of their graduate education and professional development. There is a rich history of student instructional support roles in higher education that demonstrates a positive impact on persistence (Lozada & Johnson, 2018). In their study of outcomes for Supplemental Instruction leaders (SI), Lozada & Johnson (2018) found the SI felt they had developed a set of skills that were transferable to other settings such as working effectively with diverse sets of people and aid in a future career search (Fairbrother, 2012) Justice, Zieffler, and Garfield (2017) noted that programs with mentoring that included regular meetings with faculty or senior GTAs and teaching observations with feedback have been found to improve GTAs’ self-efficacy, reduce teaching anxiety, and develop more student-centered teaching practices. To address this need for students, we developed the Applied Teaching Track (ATT) development experience, a series of competency-based seminars to prepare students for online teaching roles. For the participants, these new learning outcomes are demonstrated through daily behaviors expected of graduate assistant positions. Throughout the experience, participants developed an e-Portfolio, providing tangible evidence of online teaching competencies which students can share in future faculty job interviews. The competency-based program provides benefits for faculty, students in the program, and students with access to instructional support in the courseroom. Faculty have an opportunity to spend more time on instructional activities and mentor future faculty. Graduate assistants have access to a faculty mentor, an opportunity to build online teaching skills, an ability to help other students, and tangible experience to include on their curriculum vitae. Learners in courses with embedded support have access to additional instructional support the unique advocacy provided by a learner-instructor. The goals of the Applied Teaching Track development experience were to: • Provide structured value-add opportunities for current and future doctoral students to build and demonstrate online teaching competencies through hands-on experiences both in and out of the courseroom • Establish and leverage a framework to streamline and expand training to support current hands-on experiences • Impact student success, student-staff retention and satisfaction, and instructional costs • Provide participants with evidence of training and experience which will be useful when applying for future teaching jobs Training and professional development is critical for those in instructional support roles. Boman’s (2013) study provided evidence that training increased TAs’ self-efficacy and effective teaching behaviors, and decreased communication apprehension. This program can serve as a model for developing online training and professional development programs for a variety of instructional support roles. It also demonstrates how graduate assistants can function in the online environment and build teaching competencies that support their career goals. The program can be applied in any setting in which online courses are offered. The presenters will structure the presentation in this way. Inform and educate (30 minutes): • Background on the development of the Applied Teaching Track program • Pilot success measures, findings from the initial cohorts, and participant feedback • Tour of the seminar design and participant feedback • Snapshot of the road map for the future Reflect (5 minutes): • Where do you see value for students, faculty, institutions, and higher education? • What additional elements should be included in a program to help graduate students gain experience with online teaching? • If you have online teaching experience, what training did you receive to prepare you? What training would you have found helpful had it been available? Discuss/Q&A (10 minutes): • Facilitated discussion focused on reflection questions • Will invite participants to share connections to opportunities at their institutions • Will share online teaching competencies used in the ATT program and facilitate discussion around which are most critical for new online faculty References Boman, J. S. (2013). Graduate Student Teaching Development: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Training in Relation to Graduate Student Characteristics. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 43(1), 100-114. Fairbrother, H. (2012). Creating space: Maximising the potential of the Graduate Teaching Assistant role. Teaching in Higher Education, 17(3), 353-358. doi:10.1080/13562517.2012.678601 Justice, N, Zieffler, A., & Garfield, J. (2017). Statistics graduate teaching assistants’ beliefs, practices and preparation for teaching introductory statistics. Statistics Education Research Journal, 16(1), 294-319. Lozada, N., & Johnson, A. T. (2018). Bridging the Supplemental Instruction Leader Experience and Post-Graduation Life. Learning Assistance Review (TLAR), 23(1), 95-114.