Doctoral candidate Virginia L. Byrne has been awarded a grant by the Association for Graduate Enrollment Management (NAGAP) to study how graduate student instructors develop teaching strategies and grow as teachers.
With support from the 2019 NAGAP Graduate Student Research Grant, Byrne will use mid-semester evaluations to study whether formative feedback encourages graduate student instructors to reflect on their teaching strategies and further develop as teachers, and ultimately, as future faculty members. She will also tease apart details on how formative feedback benefits graduate students who teach in person compared with those teaching online courses.
“This study will contribute to our understanding of how to best support graduate students in their development as instructors, specifically online instructors,” says Byrne, a doctoral candidate in Technology, Learning and Leadership in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership.
Specifically, Byrne will use and evaluate UMD’s Mid-Semester Evaluation College Teaching (MSECT) tool, an existing evaluation tool developed by Dr. Alice Donlan and Byrne at the Teaching and Learning Transformation Center. Byrne says that it is well-known that mid-semester teaching evaluations are beneficial for improving teaching practices and student evaluations at the end of the semester, but that existing mid-semester instruments—like MSECT—have yet to be validated for graduate student instructors.
“The purpose of my project is to validate the UMD's MSECT with graduate instructors, and study how the MSECT can help the graduate instructors reflect on their own teaching and learn how to become more effective teachers,” Byrne says. “I am excited to study this important tool with graduate instructors and, potentially, find a free and easy way to support my fellow grad students to become more effective teachers.”
Other than $2,500 to support the research, the NAGAP award includes recognition at the organization’s 2019 annual conference, and complimentary registration, travel, and stay costs for the 2020 annual conference in Orland, Fla., where Byrne will present her research.