Dr Venetia Evergeti – Department of Sociology
Relevant pedagogical studies have already highlighted the need for and importance of providing training and support for new Graduate Teaching Assistants (Sharpe, 2000; Korinek et al, 1999; Park, 2004). The literature has highlighted the challenges that part time Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) face and the significant role which training and mentoring of GTAs can have for their future career development.
The Department of Sociology has an established induction and training session which all GTAs attend in the beginning of every semester, as well as offering specific drop-in office hours throughout the year for extra support.
This year, following MEQ and GTA feedback, which was collated at the end of Semester 1, we launched the Sociology GTA Academy with the aim to provide extended subject-specific training throughout the semester. In its first pilot run, this included three, 3 hour-long training sessions covering, among other things: engaging students in seminars; creating interactive activities; marking and feedforward; dealing with sensitive subjects and managing disruptive behaviours. This new initiative was supported by faculty funding approved by the ADE to support and expand the activities of the Academy. The funding covered lunch during these sessions and allowed for the GTAs to be paid for the hours of training. It will also cover the expenses of a final dinner at the end of the semester, during which the GTAs will be presented with Certificates of Attendance. All the sessions were run both in person and online to allow GTAs who were not on campus to attend.
GTAs have already provided great feedback and have found the sessions extremely useful. In particular, GTAs commented on the following:
‘This was a really fun session! It was good to be able to meet in person and great that you included a range of activities/methods of discussion. I really felt like you were allowing us the time to explain our challenges and share, and it never felt like we were rushed/that any ideas or questions were stupid.’
‘Hearing from others about what was/wasn’t working well for them was great.’
‘I liked how interactive the session was.’
‘It’s given me some good tips on activities for engagement and I’m feeling quite inspired to mix-up my ‘standard’ approach to lessons!’
GTAs have also given feedback on further areas they would like training and support on. The aim is that we will formalise this initiative and next year we will run it from the beginning of Semester 1 and throughout the academic year. We will continue to provide robust training and support for our GTAs and further guidance on learning and teaching career pathways, while also enhancing the learning experience of our undergraduate students. Next year the training will also include a specific session on wellbeing issues and further discussions on the role of GTAs, and raising awareness of the available support services to both them and their students.
For more information contact: Venetia Evergeti, firstname.lastname@example.org