Chemistry Graduate Teaching Assistant Identity Development
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This study was designed to better understand how new chemistry graduate students develop a teaching identity as GTAs. Utilizing two complementary conceptual frameworks, Wenger’s Community of Practice and Wortham’s Social Identification, this study considered two cases of first year chemistry graduate students engaging in teaching for the first time. The two cases produced descriptions of teaching practice, learning environment factors that mediated the GTA teaching practices, and two different models of teaching identity. Data sources included interviews, journals, classroom observations, and artifact ion collection. Classroom observations were used to describe the practices of the GTAs and when combined with the journals and interviews were used to develop an understanding of their identity development. Five learning environment factors that mediated GTA teaching practice were identified in this study: Content, Worksheet structure, Mode of Instruction, Social interactions, and GTA observations. The discourse between the students and GTAs did not directly have evidence of teaching identity. In a chemistry classroom, the GTA-student talk is centered on atoms, molecules, and reactions. Evidence for understanding metapragmatic models of teaching identity in teaching practices and their interaction with learning environment factors. Both GTAs began teaching with models of teaching identity drawn from their own experiences as students. In Case 1, the GTA’s model of teaching identity was labeled as helper. In Case 2, the GTA’s model of teaching identity was labeled as leader. The description of the learning environment factors has methodological implications for expanding the usefulness of the Communities of Practice and Social Identification frameworks. In addition, learning environment factors and GTA teaching identity should be considered when developing training and professional development for graduate students.
SubjectGraduate Teaching Assistants, Identity