Strategies for Successfully Working With and Mentoring TAs

Presented by Dr. Melissa McDaniels and Dr. Jim Smith
Thursday, August 21, 2014 11:30 - 1:30
3405 Engineering Building
Lunch Provided

Abstract  In this lunchtime workshop, participants will focus their energy on how to best work with TAs to enhance classroom success at MSU.  Toward this end, we will work as a group to develop and determine how to implement a plan to establish a positive and productive working relationship with a TA team.  This will include a discussion of best practices in working with graduate TAs, as well as strategies for mentoring graduate students in teaching roles.  We will explore situations that apply broadly to MSU TAs as well as those that may be specific to any of a number of the different teaching contexts encountered by faculty at MSU.  As a part of this, we will identify as a group common challenges that sometimes arise while mentoring TAs, and how to enact strategies to deal with these challenges.  Upon departure, it is hoped that participants will have developed a list of both short-term and long-term goals for working with and mentoring graduate TAs in the upcoming academic year.  

Melissa McDaniels is Assistant Dean and Director of Teaching Assistant Programs at  The Graduate School at Michigan State University (MSU).  She is currently directing MSU’s Preparing Future Faculty for the Assessment of Student Learning grant  and is an instructor (research mentoring) for the CIRTL Network. McDaniels has over 20 years of experience in graduate student and faculty development, undergraduate and graduate teaching and learning and organizational change. From 2008-2012, McDaniels served as Director of Michigan State University’s NSF ADVANCE Grant. Prior to 2008, she worked at Northeastern University, Boston College, Boston University and National Geographic Society.  She has had the pleasure of consulting and publishing domestically and internationally  on topics related to assessment in higher education, graduate student research development, and graduate student and faculty career development.  She holds degrees from MSU (Ph.D.), Boston College (M.A.), and University of Michigan (B.A.).

Jim Smith is a Professor of Biology in the Lyman Briggs College at MSU, where he teaches primarily Introductory Biology, guides undergraduate research projects and leads seminar courses on genetic, evolutionary and environmental issues.  He is jointly appointed in the MSU Departments of Entomology and Zoology, and MSU's interdepartmental graduate program in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior.  Jim and his colleagues are involved in a number of biology education initiatives and research projects, which are aimed towards helping students understand the relationships of genotypes, phenotypes, Mendelian genetics and biological evolution. Their current major project involves the design, implementation and assessment of a set of cases for evolution education ( that integrate principles from across biology's sub-disciplines.  In the realm of insects, Jim and his students conduct research on the evolutionary relationships of Rhagoletis fruit flies and their parasitoid wasps, primarily those in the genus Coptera.

Video of Session and Handouts

STEM Training Mentoring TAs from ANR Communications MSU on Vimeo.

Mark Urban-Lurain,
Sep 23, 2014, 2:13 PM