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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 10 Issue 6 (2005) pp 470-472

A First Look at the Case for Undergraduate Teaching Assistants

Amanda Spinka and Paul Kelter*

Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,.Urbana, IL 61801,

Published online: 16 Novenber 2005

Abstract. The use of graduate teaching assistants (TAs) in the first-year chemistry programs at large universities is controversial because it is largely an economically, not an instructionally, favorable decision. Just as controversial is the use of undergraduate TAs as a further step to save money. We are in the middle of a long-range study to assess the effectiveness of undergraduate versus graduate TAs in first-year chemistry discussion sections. Five years of student evaluation of teaching data shows that as a group undergraduate TAs are perceived by students as being better TAs than graduate students. In this commentary, we speculate on the reasons for this and discuss the implications of these initial findings.

Key Words: Of Special Interest; general chemistry; first-year chemistry; introductory chemistry; ICUC

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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Marcos Campillo Fenoll , translator; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Article in PDF format (140 KB) HTML format

Issue date: December 1, 2005

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