Promoting the Professional Development of Teaching Assistants

Promoting the Professional Development of Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Undergraduate Learning Assistants (ULAs) in Help Rooms & Office Hours

Dr. Melissa McDaniels and Dr. Tammy Long

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 11:30 - 1:30

1425 Biomedical Physical Sciences Building

Lunch Provided


MSU has invested significant resources to staff “Help Rooms” in Neighborhood Engagement Centers across the campus. Teaching Assistants and Undergraduate Learning Assistants most often provide this one-on-one and small group teaching support. This workshop has been developed for colleagues to come together to talk about a “pedagogy” of help room/office hour support, and discuss how to prepare TAs and ULAs for work in these one-to-one and small group environments. Sample learning objectives for such preparation will be shared, and new approaches to preparing ULAs and TAs will be developed by participants.

Melissa McDaniels is Assistant Dean of The Graduate School and Teaching Assistant Program Director at Michigan State University. In addition, she is a Master Trainer with the NIH-funded National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), a nationwide consortium of institutions and individuals committed to providing enhanced networking and mentorship experiences to individuals from underrepresented groups pursuing careers in biomedical, clinical, and social science research. She instructs graduate students and postdocs within the both the Center for the Integration of Research Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) and at Central Michigan University. McDaniels has over twenty 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 (in the Office of the Provost) where she spearheaded the institution’s efforts to diversify the faculty in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. The primary focus of McDaniels’ research is graduate student, postdoctoral and faculty professional development as they relate to teaching and learning and mentoring.

Tammy Long is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Biology at Michigan State University. At MSU, she has led efforts to renovate introductory biology courses for Plant Biology, the Center for Integrative Studies in General Sciences, and the Biological Sciences Program. She is currently concluding an NSF-funded study that evaluates long-term impacts of reforming introductory biology for majors. As part of this work, her research team developed a systems-based approach for teaching biology that uses conceptual modeling as both instruction and assessment and developed metrics for documenting change in student thinking over time. Research in her lab aims to better understand the mechanisms by which students use, interpret, and reason with biological models, and to link model-based learning outcomes with current theory about systems thinking.

Video of Session

STEM April 2016 Final from Evans Media Group-Michigan on Vimeo.

PowerPoint from Session with Annotations from Group Reporting