A Trio Of Innovative T.A. Training Programs

Date: February 3, 1997

  • The Principal Investigator Program, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine: At Bates college, the laboratory component of four core life science courses is conducted in the manner of a real research lab. Instead of cookbook-like instructions, students design experiments. In lieu of seeking answers to age-old lab exercise questions in fraternity house archives, students hand in formal write-ups as if they were principal investigators (P.I.'s) submitting the work to a journal. But writing a journal article requires very specific organizational and literary skills. The popular P.I. program uses a special breed of undergraduate teaching assistant (T.A.), who begins as a sophomore and is called a TWA, for "technical writing assistant." Other undergraduate T.A.'s assist with non-writing aspects of courses.

    "We needed the additional assistance of the TWAs to handle many of the nitty-gritty writing questions that come up when students...

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