Can we encourage our graduate students to develop a more scholarly approach to classroom teaching?

Presenter First Name: 
Presenter Last Name: 
O'Loughlin, PhD
Year of Presentation: 


Valerie Dean O’Loughlin, Ph.D.
Mark Braun, M.D.
Katherine Dowell Kearns, Ph.D
Isaac Heacock
Indiana University, Bloomington

The “Ideal” for Preparing Future Faculty: Learn to Teach by Practice and Reflection

  • Excellent teaching – Tips and best practice
  • Scholarly teaching – Evidence-based practice and peer collaboration
  • Scholarship of teaching – Teaching as community practice

What does past research tell us about the effectiveness of graduate student teacher training?

  • Few publications that are not discipline-specific – In medical arena, studies about graduate student teacher development are lacking
  • Most data from participant satisfaction surveys
  • TA training appears to produce behaviors in the short term – but what about lasting changes?
  • Call for more empirical, data-driven research*

*Abbott, RD, Wulff, DH and Szego, CK (1989) Review of Research on TA Training. In JD
Nyquist, RD Abbott and DH Wulff (eds.) Teaching Assistant Training in the 1990s. New
Directions for Teaching and Learning, No. 39. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Pedagogical Methods in Health Sciences (MSCI M620)
Topics covered in the class:

  • Student learning styles
  • Classroom presentation
  • Syllabus construction
  • Classroom research
  • Scholarship of teaching
  • Teaching philosophy statement
  • Teaching portfolio
  • Metacognition of teaching

A Question Takes Shape

  • Introduction to classroom research
  • Sample project
  • Institutional Review Board (Human Subjects Committee) – See the process; understand the importance
  • IRB approval and SOTL funding for our educational research

Our Research Questions
As a result of taking M620, did our students:
1.Develop a more complex attitude regarding student learning?
2.Question and evaluate their current teaching methods?
3.Explore methods of evaluating their own classroom teaching strategies?
4.Envision themselves becoming involved in a public teaching resource network?

And  were these attitudes and skills long lasting and continuing to develop months AFTER the course?
MSCI M620 Class Demographics:

  • Ten participants
  • 7 women and 3 men
  • Multiple disciplines
  • Biology
  • Medical  Sciences
  • HPER
  • Anthropology
  • Varied teaching backgrounds

Sources of Data

  • Course & instructor evaluations
  • Pre and post course surveys of student attitudes
  • Quantitative & qualitative analysis  of class assignments
  • Teaching philosophy statement
  • Teaching portfolio
  • Six month follow-up interview
  • Participation in activities outside of the classroom

Evidence of Scholarly Teaching in the Teaching Philosophy Statement
Teaching Statement Rubric prepared by KDK, CS
Five basic dimensions:

  • Learning goals
  • Teaching methods
  • Assessment of Student learning
  • Teaching  Assessment
  • Style

Specific criteria within each dimension (total of 27).
Define performance within each criterion:

  • Exceptional  (3)
  • Adequate (2)
  • Needs Work (1)
  • Absent  (0)

Compared draft and final versions of M620 statements
Statements scored by multiple graduate students not affiliated with the course

Comparison of Draft & Final Teaching Statements by Criterion
Students improved in their ability to:
Describe their teaching*

  • Teaching methods: specificity
  • Teaching methods: variety
  • Teaching methods: integration

Explain and rationalize their learning goals and learning assessments*

  • Learning goals: balance
  • Learning goals: academic relevance
  • Student learning: specificity
  • Student learning: interpersonal

Engage the reader with an organizing theme, thesis, metaphor*

  • Style: structure

* Statistically significant  criteria based on 2-tailed t-tests, p< .05

Inductive (Qualitative) Analysis of Teaching Philosophy Statements
Inductive findings mirrored rubric findings

  • Drafts were more mechanical in style, final versions had better narrative flow
  • Final versions had far more and clearer themes
  • Final versions included info about goals, teaching motivation
  • M620 students became more descriptive and more student-centered in their discussion of teaching
  • Not much information about teaching assessment in either draft or final versions

Are students developing a more scholarly approach towards teaching? Data from Teaching Portfolio Analysis
Rubric prepared to assess final versions of teaching portfolios
Seven dimensions:

  • Structure
  • Teaching History
  • Course Design
  • Teaching Methods
  • Student Learning
  • Assessment of Teaching
  • Reflection on Teaching

17 total criteria
Most M620 students scored highly in all dimensions except reflection on teaching*
 *Scoring done by graduate students not involved with course

Interview Data

  • Six-month follow up interview by grad student not involved in course (Nov 2007)
  • To date, 5 of 10 students interviewed
  • Asked about: Prior teaching experience, motivation for taking M620, perceptions of the class and its assignments, if they are continuing to assess/evaluate their teaching

Did the course help students progress on the path to becoming excellent teachers?

“I feel like with M620, a lot of the things I got out of that class are things ..that will prepare me to
actually teach at a higher level.”

“M620 got me thinking about practical ways to (help students) and also ways to evaluate it.”

“Provided me with important resources.”

“I found it one of the probably three most useful classes I’ve ever taken.  I’m using the tools I got
in M620.”

Are these scholarly approaches lasting in our M620 students?

  • M620 students are utilizing the tools they got from the class in their current teaching, when possible
  • Their thoughts about how to assess teaching effectiveness are similar to those right after the course – still relying heavily on student evaluations or exams
  • They are thinking more about how to evaluate their teaching
  • They are continuing to explore their enthusiasm for teaching

Extracurricular Pedagogical Activities

  • Teaching Portfolio Share Fair
  • Use of Instructional Support Services (ISS) resources
  • Attendance at IU SOTL talks
  • Follow-up visits/emails
  • Exploration of IU SOTL grants
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