Using Clinical Teaching Assistants to Foster Student Engagement in Online Courses

Kerry Gatlin
Paulette Alexander


The rapid growth in delivery of online courses in business programs has resulted in concern among faculty that the educational experience in online courses will be less rich and that the courses will too closely mirror independent study experiences. The authors undertook a pilot project regarding the use of Clinical Teaching Assistants in large enrollment online courses as a strategy to improve the online course experience and to encourage student engagement. Clinical Teaching Assistants, unlike graduate assistants, hold masters degrees or higher and have substantial business experience. The Clinical Teaching Assistants were teamed with full-time faculty members assigned to the various large section courses. The project was conducted over an academic year and involved over three hundred students enrolled in six different courses. Results were extremely positive. The pilot initiative was deemed a solid success by the faculty members involved, by the clinical teaching assistants, and importantly by the students. In one surprising finding, students indicated that the large online sections provided for more engagement and better feedback than they experienced in smaller traditional face-to-face classes.


Clinical teaching assistants, Student engagement, Online courses, Large section classes, Feedback

APA Citation

Gatlin, K., & Alexander, P. (2010). Using clinical teaching assistants to foster student engagement in online courses. Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, 41, 1-14.

About the Study

Links to Article
Mode Online
Publication Type Journal Article
In Publication Journal of Instructional Pedagogies
Type of Research Quantitative
Research Design Action research
Intervention/Areas of Study
Level of Analysis Student-level
Specific Populations Examined Graduates
Peer-Reviewed Unknown
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest K-12
Specific Course or Program Characteristics Professions
Outcome Variables of Interest
Student Sample Size 300-399
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