The Biology Teaching Assistant Project (BioTAP) works at the interface of research and practice to inform the teaching professional development (TPD) of biology graduate and undergraduate instructors. We provide those running TPD programs resources and networking to support teaching quality and effectiveness.
For the latest, learn more below or join our network for updates!
Who We Are
BioTAP was founded in 2013 as a network to bring together those enacting Biology GTA TPD at their institutions. These TPD providers often work in isolation and with little empirical research to inform effective TPD practices. Although there were networks to provide TPD to graduate students, there was no network to bring together TPD practitioners to share TPD ideas and build the capacity for empirical research on TPD practices.
As of 2021, there are over 250 BioTAP network members. These members are located across the US, Canada, South America, Europe, and beyond!
What We Do
The vision of BioTAP is for all institutions to provide effective TPD to graduate and undergraduate instructors so that they can deliver the best possible teaching and learning environment for undergraduate students in their classes
To do so, our mission is to provide resources and support collaborations among TPD providers, share ideas about effective TPD practices, foster research to build empirical data on TPD effectiveness, and advocate for TPD programs for graduate and undergraduate instructors at all institutions.
Why is BioTAP needed?
Undergraduate institutions are under increasing pressure to improve teaching and learning in introductory science courses. Although much of the focus is on faculty instructional quality, a large majority of the one on one interaction at the introductory level is between undergraduates and graduate teaching assistants (GTAs).
Biology graduate students are important instructors of many biology classes, especially introductory courses that are critical gateways to student progression through their biology major. Despite this role, biology graduate teaching assistants are often not provided the level of professional development specific to teaching that would maximize student learning by all students.
In 2013, the NSF funded an incubator project to start building a network to address concerns about GTA TPD. In 2015, BioTAP received five additional years of funding from the NSF to expand its network. This website provides information about the activities of the grant, as well as future BioTAP activities.
NSF funding for BioTAP has ended as of 2021, but the BioTAP network continues.
BioTAP Activities and Resources
The network holds a virtual conference each year for researchers and TPD providers to present work they have done on graduate and undergraduate students as teachers and improving teaching practices.
The BioTAP Scholars program ran from 2015-2021 and worked with faculty, staff, and graduate students to develop and implement research projects related to graduate student instruction and TPD practices. The materials from this program are available on this website, and the network has plans to continue these programs in modified forms in the future.
We have found informal, online networking to be effective and supportive for those providing TPD. We are developing online learning communities to continue these opportunities for collaboration and reflection.
Finally, we provide resources to support TPD practices and research on TPD to the community via this web platform.
Stay tuned for updates on the next chapter of BioTAP!