Short Author Bio(s)

K. Denise Kendall is a postdoctoral scholar at The University of Kentucky. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at The University of Tennessee in 2013. She is involved in teaching undergraduate introductory biology and graduate education courses. Denise’s research interests include a range of areas related to biology and science education, including teaching and learning in higher education as well as developmental biology.

Elisabeth E. Schussler is an assistant professor in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Tennessee–Knoxville. She also serves as the Director of Biology Teaching and Learning for the Division of Biology, coordinating the delivery of the core biology curriculum to undergraduates at UT.


This study investigated undergraduate pre-semester instructional expectations of two types of introductory biology course instructors based on four titles (faculty member [FM], graduate teaching assistant [GTA], lecture instructor, laboratory instructor). Data were collected via an online survey administered before students had met their instructors. All students enrolled in first-semester non-majors and majors introductory biology were invited to participate, and 199 students completed the survey. Results identified different instructional expectations for instructors based on the four titles. Significantly, students anticipated differences between FMs and lecture instructors, and GTAs and lab instructors, despite these being the same individual. These results suggest that instructors can enhance student instructional expectations and associated perceptions of learning through the use of particular titles.