Validation of a survey for graduate teaching assistants: Translating theory to practice

Jiabin Zhu, Yi Li, Monica F. Cox, Jeremi London, Jeeyeon Hahn, Benjamin Ahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) play important roles in undergraduate education. The improvement of GTAs' teaching skills relies on effective formative and summative feedback about their teaching. An absence of robust, theory-driven feedback tools can limit the scope and the usefulness of feedback to GTAs. Purpose: This article focuses on the validation of a student survey that provides pedagogical feedback to GTAs. This survey's development was guided by the How People Learn (HPL) framework. Consisting of four dimensions (knowledge-centeredness, learner-centeredness, assessment-centeredness, and community-centeredness), this framework has been used to empirically assess GTA teaching and student learning, especially in engineering. Method: The survey was validated using exploratory factor analysis (EFA) with prior external content validity checks. We used EFA to identify distinct factors in the survey. The analyses informed item development on the final survey that operationalized the dimensions of the HPL framework. Results: We produced a 29-item survey informed by the HPL framework. Three distinct factors were identified in the survey structure after two rounds of EFA. These factors represent an individual dimension or a hybrid of dimensions of the HPL framework. Conclusion: This article describes the development of a survey that is ready for use by engineering GTAs to solicit feedback from students. From survey results, GTAs may obtain HPL-based teaching profiles that translate theory to practice. Implications for practice are also provided to facilitate the implementation of the survey, to improve the effectiveness of GTA teaching, and to enhance engineering student learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-443
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Graduate teaching assistants
  • How People Learn
  • Survey validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Validation of a survey for graduate teaching assistants: Translating theory to practice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this