Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Colleen P. Gilrane, Carolyn R. Hodges

Committee Members

Robert E. Nobles II, Gary J. Skolits


Graduate students are responsible for much undergraduate instruction (Boyle & Boice, 1998; Luft et al., 2004; Miller, Brickman and Oliver, 2014) and need professional learning that aims to develop their pedagogical knowledge and instructional skills. The purpose of this multiple case study was to explore the influence of a pedagogy course that focuses on the implementation of evidence based instructional practices, on STEM Graduate Teaching Assistants’ (GTAs) professional science teaching identities. Guided by Thomas Guskey’s (1985) model of teacher change that relates changes in practice to changes in teachers’ attitudes and perceptions, the guiding research question and sub-questions were as follows:Are STEM GTAs' professional teaching identities influenced by participating in a sciencepedagogy course?1. What are STEM GTAs' beliefs about science teaching and learning?2. What factors nurture or inhibit the development of their teaching identities?Data sources included anonymous artifacts from 53 participants, as well as interviews and representations of professional science teacher identity models for a subset of eight volunteers. Analysis revealed that (i) the professional teaching identities of the STEM GTAs were influenced by their participation in the course, (ii) STEM GTAs' beliefs about science teaching and learning include connecting with students, academic identity/content knowledge, and cultural background, and (iii) the factors that STEM GTAs identified as nurturing or inhibiting the development of their teaching identities included pedagogical knowledge, self-efficacy, and mentoring. Conclusions that can be drawn from these findings include the following, which have implications for research and for practice:1. Activities of professional development must recognize the interactions and influences of the multiple identities of the individual (Fritz & Smith, 2008). The exploration of a teaching identity must therefore involve the interplay of the GTA’s cultural identity and academic identity as student researcher and teacher.2. Professional learning experiences explicitly addressing identity are valuable to STEM GTAs. Creating representations of their professional teaching identity can serve as a powerful metacognitive tool to help GTAs reflect on their instructor positionality.3. Educational developers and departments should provide graduate students with mastery experiences and mentorship to help develop their academic self-concept and professional teaching identity.

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2020

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