International teaching assistants (ITAs) in multiple roles: The impact of an ITA development program on ITAs' effective learning and teaching performance in the American college class
AuthorCoimbra, Marcia H.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractIncreasing interest in the quality of undergraduate education has led many U.S. institutions of Higher Education to focus their attention on the qualifications and careful preparation of Teaching Assistants (TAs) in general (Thornburg et al, 2000) and International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) in particular (Tang & Sandell, 2000), especially since the number of nonresident aliens in the graduate population has been rising steadily (Pae, 2001). This dissertation reports the findings of a study which investigated the proposition that when international graduate students are appointed International Teaching Assistants (ITAs), they need specific kinds of mentoring and support that differ from that of their counterparts, American Teaching Assistants (ATAs) because the issues applicable to ITAs encompass more than developing appropriate and efficient teaching behaviors. ITAs must also attend to their competencies regarding the English language, the American culture, and pedagogy, since their ability to communicate their knowledge as both graduate students and teaching assistants is sometimes limited by their competencies in the L2 language, culture, and pedagogy. This multi-case study evaluates the impact of an ITA Program on twenty-three ITAs as graduate students and teaching assistants, and offers an emic perspective on the teaching behaviors and communication skill changes ITAs experienced after participating in the optional semester-long ITA Development Program at the University of Arizona. This research study also provides an emic perspective on how ITAs see themselves in the different roles they perform, and it explores the ITAs' definitions and perceptions of teacher "effectiveness" together with those of their undergraduate students. The results of the analyses of data obtained via quantitative and qualitative methods indicate that the participants received positive benefits from the ITA Development Program and significantly improved their language, cultural and teaching competencies in L2. In addition, the findings show that upon completion of the program, ITAs felt more confident and better prepared to fulfill their multiple roles due to the customized support they received, which provided them with reassurance and encouragement throughout the mentoring process.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition and Teaching