Mathematics Graduate Teaching Assistants (MGTAs) teach approximately six percent of undergraduate mathematics courses in the United States and interact with thousands more students through their work as tutors, recitation or laboratory leaders, and graders for mathematics courses. Perhaps more importantly, MGTAs are future teachers of mathematics: more than 70 percent of Mathematics PhDs take jobs where post-secondary teaching is a major component of their workload. Thus, MGTAs need to be included in efforts to shift the way mathematics is taught.
In many cases, MGTAs receive brief and limited training for teaching, and researchers have struggled to implement professional development for MGTAs that has a lasting effect on their teaching practices. To improve training for MGTAs, we first need to better understand why MGTAs are teaching the way they do.
In this talk, I will discuss existing research about the MGTA experience, and together we will consider what barriers may be keeping MGTAs from adopting evidence-based teaching practices. Then, I will present preliminary findings from my doctoral research studying MGTAs through the theoretical lens of Complexity Science.