Statistics Graduate Teaching Assistants’ Beliefs, Practices, and Preparation for Teaching Introductory Statistics

Nicola Justice, Andrew Zieffler, and Joan Garfield

Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) are responsible for the instruction of many statistics
courses offered at the university level, yet little is known about these students’ preparation for
teaching, their beliefs about how introductory statistics should be taught, or the pedagogical
practices of the courses they teach. An online survey to examine these characteristics was
developed and administered as part of an NSF-funded project. The results, based on
responses from 213 GTAs representing 38 Ph.D.–granting statistics departments in the
United States, suggest that many GTAs have not experienced the types of professional
development related to teaching supported in the literature. Evidence was also found to
suggest that, in general, GTAs teach in ways that are not aligned with their own beliefs.
Furthermore, their teaching practices are not aligned with professionally-endorsed
recommendations for teaching and learning statistics.