Parks, Recreation, and Tourism/College of Health
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.