Dan Richmond

Dan Richmond

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism/College of Health

2013-2014

Parks, Recreation, & Tourism Teaching Assistant Development Project

Faculty Mentor: Mary S. Wells - Parks, Recreation, & Tourism/College of Health

 

One of my research interests as a PhD student is instructor effectiveness–both in traditional classroom settings and on wilderness-based outdoor adventure education courses. As a field instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and a graduate teaching and research assistant in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism (PRT), I am interested in identifying what instructor behaviors, characteristics, and teaching methods produce the best learning outcomes for students. I would like to put research into practice within our department, specifically supporting the development of graduate teaching assistants (TAs) for the PRT undergraduate Integrated Core.

The Integrated Core (IC) is a block of five required courses for undergraduate PRT majors offered each fall. The IC allows students to bring together concepts from several courses, create community among their peers, and gain valuable experience designing and implementing a community-based program. TAs are responsible for teaching and facilitating a four-hour discussion section each week, bringing together the week’s lectures and activities and supporting the creation and execution of the community program project. Since TAs for the IC come with a range of teaching experience, the classroom experience for students may vary. Currently, the department offers no specific instructor training for graduate students and those that wish to improve their teaching skills must seek out classes on their own. The PRT Teaching Assistant Development Project aims to support the professional growth of IC TAs through the creation of instructor workshops and a comprehensive online toolkit that includes lesson plans, activities, teaching tips and other resources.

 

The PRT Teaching Assistant Development Project will produce a series of workshops and an online toolkit that includes lesson plans, activities, and other resources to support TAs working in the department’s 14-credit undergraduate Integrated Core (IC). Workshops held prior to and during the IC semester will address a broad range of issues relevant to TAs, from lesson planning and grading to facilitating discussion and general class management. The online Canvas-based toolkit will help TAs develop effective lesson plans, track course objectives, and find ideas for creating an engaging and inclusive learning environment.

 

The project is designed to change how the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism prepares its graduate teaching assistants thereby creating better outcomes for TAs and undergraduate students. In the end, the project will produce a set of materials and resources that the department can be used to train and support its IC TAs for years to come with only minor annual updates and modification. The project itself will be assessed through feedback and input from current IC TAs and department faculty as well as undergraduate student feedback from those in the IC in the fall of 2014 and beyond.