P888: Classroom discourse of GTAs
Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) frequently function as instructors within the undergraduate chemistry laboratory and their classroom discourse has been tied to students’ plans to either major in or leave the sciences. Because of the important role that GTAs play within higher education, this study focuses on the analysis of the classroom discourse of chemistry GTAs. GTA classroom discourse was recorded for a full semester monitoring the same GTA and the same students. In the first portion of the semester, expository laboratories were taught, and in the second portion of the semester, problem-based learning (PBL) laboratories were taught. Comparisons of the classroom discourse between the expository and PBL settings for each participant have been made, and the patterns in classroom discourse displayed suggest that a constructivist learning environment was created. Given the minimal training GTAs receive, the results of this study have serious implications for GTAs and the learning outcomes of their students, as well as chemistry department structure and universities at large.