(311) Teaching Assistants as a Source of Continuity and Improvement in the Classroom

in HortScience
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  • 1 University of Minnesota, Department of Horticultural Science, St. Paul, MN, 55108

It may seem paradoxical that a teaching assistant (TA), whose involvement in a particular class may be limited to a single semester, can provide continuity in the classroom from year to year. Improvement in TA performance from one year to the next also seems difficult to achieve under such circumstances. However, when TAs are encouraged to document classroom activities, specific TA responsibilities, and student concerns, this documentation may be useful in achieving continuity, improved TA performance, and result in a better classroom experience for the students. In addition to the benefit of documentation, TAs, in conjunction with faculty, can together reflect upon how well the objectives of specific laboratories were met. TAs can contribute to generating and documenting ideas that may be implemented to help improve student learning in the future. Each TA comes to the course with a unique collection of horticultural and teaching experiences and has the potential to aid faculty in course refinement and improvement. We explain how TA-directed documentation can provide continuity and year-to-year improvement in horticulture classrooms using our experience with HORT 3005, a required plant physiology laboratory course specifically targeted to horticulture students at the University of Minnesota.

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