University of Alabama at Birmingham to Provide TA Training in Scholarly Integrity

Each Fall, the Graduate School at the University of Alabama at Birmingham trains 30–40 new graduate TAs in the elements of pedagogy and curriculum development to equip them to teach and mentor undergraduate students in courses in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Computer Science.  This year, as part of UAB’s Project for Scholarly Integrity, the TAs themselves will be instructed in an area of responsible conduct of research (for example, data integrity) and will then, as a group, create and implement a lesson plan related to that topic.  Developing this lesson will encourage comprehensive thinking and discussion of the RCR topic among the TAs, in addition to enhancing their skills as future instructors.  “We anticipate that this experience will prompt these future faculty to think more consciously about embedding ethics lessons in their courses as they assume more permanent teaching positions,” says Dr. Bryan Noe, Dean of the UAB Graduate School.  “Another benefit of our strategy is the engagement of undergraduate students in discussions of ethical behavior early in their academic careers.”  The effectiveness of this approach will be assessed using pre- and post-tests for both the TAs and their undergraduate students.  The project recognizes the fact that today’s graduate teaching assistants are on the front lines, as both instructors and role models, of issues involving scholarly integrity.