Book by Catherine Ross and Jane Dunphy
Review by: Laurie J. Nelson
College of Business Administration
Strategies for Teaching Assistant and International Teaching Assistant Development is a collection of suggested activities designed to be used as formal training for teaching assistants. At first glance, this book may not appear to have many direct applications for professionals in the advising field—the focus is clearly on developing graduate students to teach in a classroom setting. However, with some creativity, the basic principles of the activities can be adapted for use in advisor training.
The book is divided into two sections. Part I (“Teaching Assistant Development”) addresses topics such as classroom management and basic principles of interacting with undergraduate students. Part II (“International Teaching Assistant Development”) focuses on cultural differences and communication skills with a heavy emphasis on the adaptation of international graduate students to American academic life. Although both halves are comprised of activities that can be modified to benefit advising professionals, Part I contains more potential applications to advising than Part II because Part II concentrates on curriculum-style exercises.
Advising administrators may find Strategies for Teaching Assistant and International Teaching Assistant Development useful for revitalizing training programs. Ideas range from practical to theoretical. Practically speaking, advisors who are new to campus will need to get acclimated to the university as well as the job. One suggestion for acclimatization is for new employees to read articles and editorials from the college newspaper to get an idea of the issues which are important to students on that specific campus. Another form of adjustment is for educators who are new to the United States to learn American culture. Understanding why American students behave the way they do is critical in order for interactions with students to be effective and meaningful. The book identifies several areas of educational differences among cultures, raising readers’ awareness and allowing them to avoid potential pitfalls of cross-cultural communication.
In addition, since advisors are often called upon to present to groups of students in new student orientations, programs and workshops, or first-year seminars, many could benefit from an overview of classroom presence and impromptu speaking. Similarly, individuals who are new to teaching (or advising) may need to learn how to ask questions that draw students out; they can begin to practice this skill using exercises from this book.
Theoretical aspects of training can be beneficial to new and experienced advisors alike. Exercises in self-awareness can help all advisors discover how they identify themselves, how they think others (colleagues, students) see them, and how the images they project might cause other people to (mis)interpret what they say. On an even more abstract level, Strategies for Teaching Assistant and International Teaching Assistant Development includes several ideas for exercises in articulating personal advising philosophies, prompting advisors to respond to questions regarding what characteristics are necessary in a good advisor and what kind of person would win an “Advisor of the Year” award.
The majority of advisors would probably not gain much from reading this book. The focus on pedagogical technique is simply too far removed from the daily responsibilities of an advisor. However, someone who is interested in advisor development may want to investigate this as a potential resource. With an open mind and a knack for modifying exercises, an imaginative advising mentor could easily use Strategies for Teaching Assistant and International Teaching Assistant Development as a springboard for introducing new approaches to advisor development.
Strategies for Teaching Assistant and International Teaching Assistant Development: Beyond Micro Teaching. (2007). Book by Catherine Ross and Jane Dunphy. Review by: Laurie J. Nelson. San Francisco,CA : Jossey-Bass, 208 pp. $40.00. ISBN # 978-0-470-18082-2