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How effective is asynchronous, online training for graduate and undergraduate student instructors?

Chad Hershock (Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Michael C. Melville (Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Jacqueline Stimson (Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Heather Dwyer (Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, USA)

Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education

ISSN: 2050-7003

Article publication date: 5 December 2022

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Abstract

Purpose

The authors developed online learning modules to train graduate and undergraduate student instructors (GUSIs) on grading and delivering feedback in quantitative disciplines. The authors report results from multiple assessments conducted during recent training events at a mid-sized, research-intensive institution and discuss implications for educational development.

Design/methodology/approach

Using pre/post-assessments, the author measured participants' learning gains and skill development. In Study 1, the authors measured learning gains for 109 computer science GUSIs randomly assigned to complete the modules or not. Participants who completed the modules performed significantly better on the post-assessment relative to the control group across all seven module learning objectives aligned with GUSI responsibilities. In Study 2, we iterated on both assessments and modules, replicating Study 1 results for GUSIs from other quantitative disciplines. In Study 3, the authors compared learning gains from online modules to in-person training sessions, focusing on the authentic task of providing written feedback on student work.

Findings

Proficiency improved equally and significantly via both training modalities.

Originality/value

At research-intensive universities, GUSI training can be inconsistent and difficult to scale and rarely assessed via direct measures of outcomes. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to rigorously measure GUSI skill development via authentic assessment tasks such as grading student work and/or providing effective written feedback rather than simply testing knowledge. This study also addresses implications for designing and implementing effective GUSI training at scale.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank colleagues Megan Sanders and Lynn Kojtek for contributing to the design and development of the online modules and assessment instruments. The Institutional Review Board (STUDY2016_00000148) approved the use of these data for research at the university where the data were collected.

Citation

Hershock, C., Melville, M.C., Stimson, J. and Dwyer, H. (2022), "How effective is asynchronous, online training for graduate and undergraduate student instructors?", Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JARHE-05-2022-0149

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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