Title

An Exploration of the Roles, Responsibilities, and Challenges of Six Graduate Teaching Assistants in the Visual Arts

Date of Award

7-31-1998

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Teaching & Learning

Abstract

In this qualitative study, six participants shared their experiences as graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) in the Visual Arts department of an upper- midwest university. Interviews, observations, and field notes during one semester, provided insights into how the participants described and understood their roles and < )sponsibilities as teachers. The university in this study offered no formal training and limited support to the graduate teaching assistants. As a result, participants had to depend on their own ingenuity and judgement to determine what and how to teach. The GTAs had full responsibility for crafting their course syllabi, creating and grading assignments, and resolving difficulties which arose in their classrooms. If they wanted feedback or suggestions, it was up to them to seek out responsive faculty members as mentors. The issues of student absenteeism and non-compliant behaviors were particularly difficult for the participants to resolve. The lack of preparation and support which was offered the GTAs contributed to their sense of isolation and precluded the formation of a teaching and learning community within the department.

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