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Advocating a new perspective on TA professional development Renee Michelle Goertzen, Rachel E. Scherr, and Andrew Elby Department of Physics and Curriculum & Instruction, University of Maryland, College Park NSF ROLE 0440113 and NSF DUE-0715567 Alan: Hi, what’s going on? S3: Um, what’s the, what happens to the truck’s acceleration during the collision? Alan: Okay, so you want to compute this acceleration during the collision, right? S3: Right. Alan: So, what is the definition for acceleration? If you don’t know anything, just try using the definition. What’s the definition of acceleration? S4: [muttered] ???over time S3: Distance… S2: [muttered] Over feet time squared S3: The change in velocity over time. Alan: Right. So it’s change in velocity divided by the change in time. Or the time that it took for the velocity to change. So in this case, do you guys know from other things they’ve said, how much the truck’s velocity changed? S2: Yeah, five- S1: Is that five… S3: Five meters- Alan: Five meters per second. Right, so the change ??? And how long did it take for it to change? S3: A second. Sass. S2: Half a second. S3: Point five. Alan: Half a second, right? So now you know the change in velocity and the change in time. You can get the acceleration from S2: Like I said- Alan: Right? S3: So it’s- S1: Ten. S3: Ten. Is that a ten? Alan: Yup. Five divided by a half is ten. S3: Ten, ten meters- Alan: Ten meters per second squared is the acceleration. Do you see how I arrived at that? S1: Yeah. S2: Yeah. S4: Take five meters and divide it by the time. Alan: Okay, the next thing you can also do using the same idea. S?: All right. Context: Data Sources: Alan = physics graduate student TA assigned to teach tutorials Students = life science majors in algebra-based course Tutorials = worksheets designed to help students build conceptual knowledge; completed in a small group Video recordings of Alan’s tutorial teaching Interviews done at the beginning and end of the semester Alan taught We advocate a new perspective on TA professional development: one in which TAs' ideas about teaching are taken to be interesting, plausible, and potentially productive. Alan’s teaching TA instructors’ perspective Alan’s perspectiveOur shift in perspective: building partnerships with TAs “For me the point of physics is that there is this extremely powerful machinery that lets you get numbers and get precise and quantitative results.” “I’m seeing a lot of frustration from my students, about the homework and what they’re being graded on, and the fact that [tutorials are] not… And the tests, they’ll have a lot of nonconceptual questions.” Alan: TAs should promote quantitative understanding. “The tutorial assumes that they screwed up. It assumes that they were stupid. And every time I do the tutorial, there’s at least one group who doesn’t make the stupid mistake. And then they feel kind of offended. …It’s pedagogically dangerous.” Alan: TAs should assume students probably understand. Alan fails to elicit student ideas. He does not ask: what the students have already tried whether there is some part they do understand whether the other students in the group could answer S3’s question for her Our value: TAs should help students build on their own ideas. Alan constrains the conversation and the students don’t discuss their ideas. His conversational turns are the longest. Students’ gazes are mostly on him or their papers. Students don’t get to say what’s going on for them. Our value: TAs should value student ideas. Alan feels a sense of responsibility to his students Alan’s relationship to his students: he treats them as epistemologically- sophisticated equals Alan share pedagogical strategies with the tutorials, i.e. learning progressions When TAs and reformers have different values, everyone is frustrated. TAs feel constrained by seemingly counterproductive rules, like “don’t tell students the answer.” Reformers don’t know all the details, but they see unhappy TAs and unhappy students. Treat TAs as partners in the endeavor of educating students. Recognize the productive seeds in Alan’s beliefs Suppose the truck’s mass is 2000 kg while the car’s mass is 1000 kg, and suppose the truck slows down by 5 m/s during the collision. 1.Suppose the car and truck remain in contact for 0.50 seconds before bouncing off each other. Calculate the truck’s acceleration during the collision. 2M2MM

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Mid- to late- Winter ’13 LAs view student thinking as: Instrumentally valuable Morally valuable Intellectually valuable* – sensible & productive starting.

Mid- to late- Winter ’13 LAs view student thinking as: Instrumentally valuable Morally valuable Intellectually valuable* – sensible & productive starting.

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