The Role of Honors Teaching Assistants as Community Builders

  • Meghan Grassel South Dakota State University
  • Hanna Holmquist South Dakota State University
  • Rebecca Bott-Knutson South Dakota State University
Keywords: Honors education, community, teaching assistant, first-year experience


Within the Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College at South Dakota State University (SDSU), undergraduate teaching assistants (TAs) are engaged to mentor small groups of students in our first-year Honors Orientation classes. These near-peer guided small groups simulate the benefits of smaller classes within larger sections and promote relationship building within honors. To assess the value of having teaching assistants in these classes, we surveyed both the students enrolled in Honors Orientation as well as the undergraduate TAs. Students felt that relationships, academic support, and smaller group sizes were benefits of TAs in the classroom. The TAs believed the relationships they formed with other students were the primary benefit to their experience, along with growth in teaching and mentoring skills. These results indicate our teaching assistants are important connections between first-year students and the Fishback Honors College.