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ERIC Number: ED512934
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 143
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1092-8467-6
Adapting to a New Role as an International Teaching Assistant: Influence of Communicative Competence in This Adaptation Process
Bengu, Elif
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, University of Cincinnati
For a variety of reasons, U.S. higher education has employed an increasing number of international teaching assistants (ITAs) to teach undergraduate courses in science, engineering, and humanities departments. Often, ITAs arrive on campus and are placed in undergraduate classrooms without having previous training or teaching experience; they are handed their assignments and given copies of a syllabus and textbook without any knowledge about what their new role entails. Although institutions have recently been putting more effort into training programs, they are usually limited and focused primarily on basic issues, resulting in an inability to address unique needs. The purpose of this study is to explore the teaching experiences of international graduate students at an American university. Qualitative research methods are used to analyze data and assess how ITAs use their communicative competence of English in this new role and what they might need to learn in order to function more effectively as a teaching assistant (TA) and thus better acculturate into their new social context, U.S. academia. The eleven participants in this study are international graduate students from a variety of countries and fields of study who had lived in the U.S. from three to seven years. One of the students participated in a single case study that addressed her experience as a first-time instructor. Ten students participated in a focus group interview session that addressed their challenges, their expectations, and their overall teaching experience. Participants identified several challenges that hindered their success. They also indicated that they were impacted by the process of acculturation. Factors they found helpful in their teaching experience included guidance from previous ITAs, familiarity with the American academic system, and acquaintance with American culture. Factors that affected them negatively included: lack of certain types of assistance, differences in attitudes and behaviors, and differences in communication styles. Participants also reported an increased level of self-confidence as a result of being an instructor in the U.S. Results of this study suggest that although international graduate teaching assistants appreciate the opportunity to teach, their experiences could be made less stressful and more meaningful if the higher-education institution, the department, and their advisor would take into account their unique needs. These needs include receiving more in-depth training in the areas of U.S. classroom culture, pedagogical techniques, and classroom management. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A