2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Reflections on the Process of Growing into Faculty: A Collaborative Experience in Being Apprentices

Presented at Student Division (STDT) Technical Session 1: Student Success and Mentoring

This is a submission for our research project (relating to criteria two) on our experiences, reflections, and growth as apprentice faculty within a shared introductory chemical engineering course.
This semester, we had the opportunity to teach an introductory, core chemical engineering course at our respective institutions as graduate student faculty apprentices. This apprenticeship opportunity was possible through the relationship and mentorship of our graduate advisors. We are faculty apprentices at two different US R1 institutions. In this research paper, we will provide details about our classroom climate, teaching practice, and responsibilities as faculty apprentices.
Our main objective for this research is to be transparent about our individual experiences as faculty apprentices. We are motivated by the desire to share the lessons learnt with the larger graduate student community and faculty who are mentoring graduate students in teaching positions. Most graduate students, especially those entering academia, rarely get experience teaching courses, and even more rarely get any say in designing a course, with most serving solely as GTAs [1], [2]. While the experiences of GTAs are valuable for graduate students, the students they mentor, and the faculty they support, GTAs in these roles are often relegated to execution of labs, recitation or discussion sections instead of holistic course design or delivery. As faculty apprentices we had the opportunity to design the course material [3]–[6], assist in the planning the class structure, and deliver material. Our faculty apprenticeship provided a scaffolded and safe setting for us to try out new our ideas and make mistakes while being mentored by experienced faculty. The development, planning, and delivery of course content is often the most difficult step for new faculty. Thus, being able to practice these skills within a structured environment allowed us to take risks and increased our learning experience. Throughout the semester our idealized versions of what a course can be fell apart as we navigated the realities and messiness of content delivery and active learning in a class with challenging concepts and many constraints [4], [7]–[9].
We individually reflected on our weekly responsibilities and experiences in class, alongside monthly collaborative discussions for summative reflections and metacognitive pauses. In addition, we will have one final reflection over the semester as a whole. We draw on the work of reflective journaling, metalogues, and reflexive learning for this project, turning our experiences into lessons learned for external presentations. [[10], [11]]
We anticipate that this work will produce key learning outcomes and suggestions for engineering programs, faculty mentors, and graduate students who are interested in faculty apprenticeships and other teaching opportunities. [12] We believe this experience, especially the collaborative and shared nature, allows for a unique capturing of an experience and processes rarely available to graduate students. Thus, we present our reflections, lessons learned, and valuable skills gained to the community at large to both reflect on our growth and journey, and to allow others to scaffold and develop similar learning opportunities for graduate students.

[1] J. M. Mutambuki and R. Schwartz, “We don’t get any training: the impact of a professional development model on teaching practices of chemistry and biology graduate teaching assistants,” Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 106–121, 2018, doi: 10.1039/C7RP00133A.
[2] J. A. Luft, J. P. Kurdziel, G. H. Roehrig, and J. Turner, “Growing a garden without water: Graduate teaching assistants in introductory science laboratories at a doctoral/research university,” J. Res. Sci. Teach., vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 211–233, Mar. 2004, doi: 10.1002/tea.20004.
[3] K. Meyers and J. Brockman, “A review of an engineering teaching apprenticeship program,” in 2011 Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), Rapid City, SD, USA, Oct. 2011, pp. T2E-1-T2E-6. doi: 10.1109/FIE.2011.6142718.
[4] P. Blumberg and A. Mccann, “Developing Learner-Centered Teaching: A Practical Guide for Faculty,” J. Dent. Educ., vol. 73, pp. 1125–1126, Sep. 2009, doi: 10.1002/j.0022-0337.2009.73.9.tb04801.x.
[5] M. Gallego, “Professional development of graduate teaching assistants in faculty-like positions: Fostering reflective practices through reflective teaching journals,” J. Scholarsh. Teach. Learn., pp. 96–110, May 2014, doi: 10.14434/josotl.v14i2.4218.
[6] K. Walters and J. Misra, “Bringing Collaborative Teaching into Doctoral Programs: Faculty and Graduate Student Co-teaching as Experiential Training,” Am. Sociol., vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 292–301, Sep. 2013, doi: 10.1007/s12108-013-9185-6.
[7] C. Iberico, J. Del Valle, and M. A. Pease, “Students and Teachers’ Perceptions of the Most Valued Teaching Actions,” ATHENS J. Educ., vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 105–120, Apr. 2016, doi: 10.30958/aje.3-2-1.
[8] P. Fensham J., R. Gunstone F., and R. White T., Eds., The Content Of Science: A Constructivist Approach To Its Teaching And learning, First. London: Talor & Francis, 1994. [Online]. Available: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315831558
[9] M. W. Liberatore, “ACTIVE LEARNING AND JUST-IN-TIME TEACHING,” Vol ., p. 7, 2013.
[10] E. Schussler et al., “Transforming the Teaching of Science Graduate Students Through Reflection,” p. 7.
[11] R. Wolkenhauer, A. P. Hill, N. F. Dana, and M. Stukey, “Exploring the Connections Between Action Research and Teacher Leadership: A Reflection on Teacher-Leader Research for Confronting New Challenges,” New Educ., vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 117–136, Apr. 2017, doi: 10.1080/1547688X.2016.1237692.
[12] A. Collins, J. S. Brown, and A. Holum, “COGNITIVE APPRENTICESHIP: MAKING THINKING VISIBLE,” p. 18.

  1. Mr. Duncan H. Mullins Orcid 16x16http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7173-9695 State University of New York, Buffalo
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