Effects of amount and type of graduate teaching assistant (GTA) training on perceived teacher credibility and student motivation
The graduate student's transformation from student to instructor can be a difficult one. Having been a pupil for many years, the graduate student is very familiar with the roles, responsibilities, and the full persona of the student. Then the scene changes and the graduate student is thrust into a new role— the role of the instructor. New graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) must fulfill the obligations and expectations of the teacher's persona. This student-tumed-instructor is now responsible for knowing the content expertly, establishing credibility, and motivating students. It is a character role that the scholar has not had much experience, if any, portraying. Even so, the new GTA is called upon to not only know the subject matter, but be able to communicate it effectively to students in a learning enviroimient (Worthen, 1992). "Each fall large numbers of new GTAs are thrown into the classroom to teach . . . many without even the limited experience of student teaching" (Cormelly, 1982, p.3). It is not uncommon for graduate teaching assistants to be in this situation. Many universities do not provide any type of instructional training to aid GTAs' leap from student to teacher. In many cases, GTAs learn the role of the instructor only by the sink or swim method—that is, they learn how to teach, facilitate discussion and manage their classrooms on a day to day, trial and error, basis (Marting, 1987). It is for this reason that some universities have developed an organized effort to enlighten these novice instructors in the fundamental principles of pedagogy.