Publication Date

Spring 4-12-2017


Many universities offer recitation sections in their calculus sequences; however, little research has been conducted on TA best practices in the recitations.This study first aimed to observe the different teaching methods that TAs employed in their recitations and then measure their efficacy in improving student course attitudes and achievement, focusing on student-centered and concept-based instruction. In addition, this study aimed to assess the quality of professional development offered to recitation leaders. Using a quantitative-dominant mixed methods design, 12 TAs were observed throughout the semester and TAs and calculus students were surveyed. This study found that student-centered instruction was positively correlated with student course attitude (r = 0.68, p-value = 0.008); however conceptually focused instruction was not correlated with course attitude (r = -0.30, p-value = 0.34). Also, different teaching methods did not have an effect on final exam passing rates; however, both student-centered (p-value = 0.00001) and concept-based instruction (p-value = 0.0005), improved students' likelihood of predicting a passing course grade. Finally, our study found that TAs rated the quality of professional development they received as slightly effective in preparing them to lead a recitation. Our study has found evidence to suggest that different teaching methods impact the recitation and that more research is needed to investigate recitation best practices. The implications of this study can be used to help departments design their recitation sections and improve professional development offered to recitation leaders.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Mathematics & Statistics

First Committee Member (Chair)

Michael Nakamaye

Second Committee Member

Li Li (Co-Chair)

Third Committee Member

Erik Barry Erhardt




calculus recitation, math education, teaching assistant, TA training, professional development, student-centered instruction, concept-based instruction

Document Type