A retrospective view of the graduate teaching assistantship experience
Borkowski, Nancy Ann
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The graduate teaching assistantship represents a potentially vital investment for future faculty members. However, limited research has been conducted regarding the long-term impact of the teaching assistantship. The intent of this study was to examine the impact of the practice of the graduate teaching assistantship through the retrospective experiences of current faculty who served as teaching assistants in their graduate school program.|Specifically, the aim of this study was to answer three research questions: How do former graduate teaching assistants describe their teaching experience? What impact do current faculty members believe the teaching assistantship experience has had on their careers? How do specific tasks and responsibilities of different types of graduate teaching assistantships influence the quality of the experience as it relates to preparation for a future faculty career?|Using phenomenological research methods, eleven junior faculty members from one Research I institution representing thirteen different institutions and disciplines were selected and interviewed about their graduate teaching assistantship experiences. Collected data was then analyzed using qualitative data analysis procedures. Five themes emerged as practically significant for this group: compensation and benefits considerations, mentoring and guidance concerns, comparative emphasis on research, the significance of students, and the nature of pedagogical intervention.|Findings from this study are consistent with the results from the limited number of empirical studies conducted over the past twenty years on the topic of the graduate teaching assistantship. These findings more specifically reinforce the importance of improving TA training programs, expanding peer guidance programs, improving financial aspects of the assistantship, altering perceptions of the teaching culture, and improving evaluation and feedback practices for the graduate teaching assistantship experience.