Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Chemistry and Biochemistry

First Advisor

Matthew Miller


CaseStudy, Constructivism, Graduate Teaching Assistants, Pedagogical Content Knowledge, Scenario-Based Examples, Training


Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) largely contribute to undergraduate education but are often underprepared for their role as educators. Most graduate students attend graduate school to perform research and are then asked to teach for the first time without sufficient pedagogy training. To assist in increasing the GTAs pedagogical knowledge, a scenario-based activity series was developed and implemented for first- and second-year GTAs. Developing scenario-based scenarios from actual laboratory events provided GTAs with the opportunity to practice prior to engaging in the laboratory classroom. The Teaching Assistant Intervention Activities (TAIAs) included topics such as interpersonal skills and behaviors, group process, working with students of different abilities, and higher-order thinking skills. Methods of data collection included observations of undergraduate laboratories and individual interviews with sample GTAs, and end of semester student surveys. The Laboratory Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (LOPUS) procedure from the Generalized Observation and Reflection Protocol (GORP) platform from the University of California Davis was utilized for data collection. Observation data included times of every occurrence within the laboratory sessions. Subtle changes in GTA teaching behavior were determined after one year of implementation for Cohort 1 and one semester for Cohort 2. One particular topic of GTA growth occurred after discussion about analysis, laboratory techniques, and assessment. GTAs were interested in learning more about their teaching including: “student-centered” versus “instructor-centered” classrooms, strategies to increase student participation, and asking students questions with the questions being at an appropriate level. Student survey responses indicate generally positive, yet mixed, interpretations of the GTAs teaching methods.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Graduate teaching assistants -- Training of.
Chemistry -- Study and teaching (Higher)
Pedagogical content knowledge.
Constructivism (Education)
Process-oriented guided inquiry learning.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright