In-at-the-deep-end: graduate teaching assistants as role models in the university

Higgs, Bettie, Cronin, James, McCarthy, Marian and McKeon, Jacinta (2011) In-at-the-deep-end: graduate teaching assistants as role models in the university. [Conference Proceedings]


At University College Cork, work with graduate students has culminated in an annual symposium entitled In-at-the-deep-end over the past 3 years. Graduate teaching assistants are encouraged to tackle a central question or problem emerging from their teaching practice, to formulate strategies for student engagement, and to critically analyse the effects of applying these strategies from the vantage point of their own emerging teaching and learning philosophies. This paper draws on the findings of a preliminary analysis of the course using a narrative inquiry framework (see KublerLaBoskey and Hamilton, 2010). The findings coalesce around the following: 1. Managing student expectations: situating learning, teasing out troublesome knowledge, and focusing on the needs of individual learners by using multiple entries to learning and an array of assessment tools to ask: how do graduate teacher assistants know what their students know? 2. Educational constructivism: Social constructivists, from Lev Vygosky to Diana Laurillard, have spoken about the value of participatory conversations in learning, whereby, knowledge is co- constructed, negotiated, and mediated. How can teaching assistants engender an inquiry frame of mind? 3. Decoding disciplines and scholarly teacher formation: graduate teacher assistants help to encourage students to think within their chosen discipline or profession: how to think like a scientist or a social analyst etc. How does this help graduates, as researchers, to think about the construction of their own disciplines? What emerges from these teacher narratives is an exposition of the current challenges facing teaching and learning across a diversity of disciplines in Irish higher education today.

[thumbnail of NAIRTL 5th Annual Conference.pdf]
NAIRTL 5th Annual Conference.pdf

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