Mediation Effect of the Improvement in Teaching Assistant Quality on Students’ Evaluations of Their FirstYear Experience
In Japan, a first-year experience program is required for new university students with diverse academic abilities and motivations. Proper training and utilization of teaching assistants (TAs) is necessary to ensure the quality of higher education. Since 2015, the University of Tokyo has offered a first-year experience program called the “First-Year Seminar,” aimed at promoting problem identifying and solving skills by involving TAs to engage students in the program. However, the causal structure of TAs’ effectiveness in class has not been confirmed. This study aims to verify the causal model from the perspective of educational practice using data from students’ evaluations of teaching. TA training underwent radical reform in 2017. A multi-group mediation analysis between pre- and post-TA training reform showed that the specific and appropriate support actions of the TA affect students and teachers, thereby influencing students’ overall lecture satisfaction. TAs who did not provide enough specific learning support and knowledge had a significantly negative effect on students, faculty, and lecture satisfaction. The educational effects of TA development were found both in selfevaluation by TAs and in the supportive relationships among faculty, students, and TAs. The results of this study demonstrate TAs’ work structure toward their goal of supporting classes.
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