Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Training Graduate Students to Teach Writing part 1

Yesterday I checked out some issues of the Writing Program Administration WPA journal from 2002-2004. In Fall/Winter 2002 Sally Barr Ebest writes "When Graduate Students Resist" (p.27-43) and offers two main theories for why GTA's resist the training provided.

She writes:
"1. Graduate students resist pedagogical innovations when such changes contradict their personal construct and sense of self-efficacy.
2. Graduate students who initial resist nontraditional pedagogy because it threatens their sense of self-efficacy can overcome their resistance if they have developes a strong personal construct." (27)

Drawing on Henry Giroux, she identifies three categories:
1. accomodation: accept what is taught
2. resistance: refuse to learn "because they believe the classroom ideology infringes upon their personal beliefs"
3. opposition: "fail to learn because they 'refuse to engage in behavior that would enable them to learn' (Chase 15)" (30)
How does this relate to the 4C's topic of graduate student teacherly identity formation/ presentation that Michael Faris and I are working on? Because the way GTA's present themselves depends at least in part on how they view themselves. And that depends on how they imagine their roles as teachers and to what extent they are intentionally striving to enact a teacherly role, as they imagine it.

Eberst says,
"overburdened with teacing and preparing and grading and reading and writing and attending classes, they don't have the time to reflect on their reading, even though the texts they encounter in their pedagogy seminars may be unlike anything they've ever read before. The end result? Too many TAs exit their pedagogy seminars without fully developing an understanding of their writing or their teaching" (40)
She continues:
Despite its ubiquity, the role of writing is rarely discussed in relation to graduate students' professional development. . . Too many graudate students are like those descrived above [in the case studies in her article], fearful, rigid, superstitious, or cynical. We can help them overcome these crippling apprehensions by engagivng them in those strategies our research has found effective -- collaborative learning, reflective practice, and writing as a process." (41)
Which brings me to another point: Why are Michael and I writing this article? In part, from this research and writing into how graduate students imagine their acquisition/invention of a new - teacherly - role, we can learn (and show) ways to help new graduate students understand the process of transformation they are undergoing and ease the way.

Citation: Eberst, Sally Barr. "When Graduate Students Resist." Writing Program Administration: Journal of the Council of Writing Program Administrators. Vol 26.1/2 Fall/Winter 2002. 27-41.


Post a Comment

<< Home