Developing as a Teacher: supporting GTAs in their transition into teaching

Developing as a Teacher: supporting GTAs in their transition into teaching

Michael P. McEwan & Angela Jaap, University of Glasgow - Download slides here

Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) have an important role to play in teaching and supporting learning in universities. The transition from learner to teacher that typical GTAs undergo is challenging; involving issues of identity (Muzaka, 2009), authority (Park, 2004) and a poorly defined job description (Park and Ramos, 2002; Lee and Pettigrove, 2009). Support for GTAs in this transition is offered by institutions but is not uniformly required (Parks and Ramos, 2002; Lee and Pettigrove, 2009; McCulloch, 2009), nor does the literature agree on what such support should constitute despite recent trends to professionalise teaching in higher education (UKPSF, 2011).

            We present findings of an institutional study that aimed to understand the role of the GTA: who they are, what they do and their motivations for teaching. We identify the challenges GTAs face in their role (inside and outside the classroom) and further explore the developmental and training needs of GTAs in a large, research-intensive university in the UK. We used these findings to design a CPD programme for GTAs in the university, utilising participants in the study as ‘partners’ in the design process; harnessing their knowledge and experiences to create a programme which is tailored to the needs of GTAs.