253781 Roles and opportunities for teaching assistants: Optimizing learning and preparing future public health instructors

Monday, October 31, 2011: 10:35 AM

Marie Diener-West, PhD , Department of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Kay Bartholomew, EdD, MPH , Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, University of Texas Houston School of Public Health, Houston, TX
Effective teaching of modern core public health graduate courses is challenging due to heterogeneity in students' cultural, technical and professional backgrounds, interests, and learning styles. Traditional individual lectures within a classroom, either in person or online, may no longer be sufficient. Rather, classroom learning must be complemented by resourceful utilization of methods, technologies and teaching assistants (TAs). This session will provide examples of ways in which the roles of teaching assistants can be expanded to optimize learning and, tailored to address student learning styles. Examples of two core public health courses, one on-site and one online, will be given. The first is a large on-site introductory biostatistics courses with two parallel lecture sections, smaller group laboratory sections, and TA office hours for helping students understand concepts and advance their computing skills. A team approach to teaching, with complementary responsibilities and duties distributed across lecturers, lab instructors and TAs will be discussed. The second example is a large online introductory epidemiology course with asynchronous components such as lectures, exercises, review questions, and bulletin board postings as well as synchronous features such as LiveTalk sessions and TA office hours. Roles of the TAs will be highlighted, as well as the opportunities for preparing them as tomorrow's modern instructors in public health, which is often overlooked in achieving immediate course goals. Models for TA training and apprenticeships will be reviewed. The session will include a panel discussion of recommendations for building TA skills as well as recognition of their contributions through teaching awards.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education

Learning Objectives:
Identify the challenges associated with teaching large core public health courses. Describe innovations in the roles of teaching assistants in on-site and online learning. Demonstrate ways to effectively train teaching assistants.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I direct the MPH program and have also taught a large introductory biostatistics sequences to public health students.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.