A Description of One Program's Experience Utilizing Final-Year Physical Therapist Students as Teaching Assistants

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The use of final-year students (3-year Master of Physical Therapy Program) as teaching assistants (TAs) in a total of five first- or second-year student lecture/laboratory courses was evaluated over a 3-year period. First- and second-year students, TAs, and faculty were invited to complete surveys questioning their perceptions of the TA arrangement in terms of problems and benefits as well as teaching effectiveness and efficiency. The combined sample over the 3-year period consisted of 556 first- and second-year students, 44 TAs, and 17 faculty, with a total survey response rate of 93.6% for students, 84.6% for TAs, and 100% for faculty. Data analysis consisted of descriptive statistics. Survey findings from the first year guided subsequent changes in the TA arrangements, resulting in overall improved teaching ratings and fewer reported problems. Using final-year students as TAs in lecture/laboratory courses enhanced the learning environment for the students and faculty, provided unique and valuable teaching experience for participating TAs, and enhanced faculty perception of teaching efficiency. Participants involved either strongly agreed (majority) or agreed that the TA arrangement should be continued. Recommendations for faculty considering initiating a TA arrangement are outlined.

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