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Design and delivery of a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) program in a UK university: experiences and perspectives

Smallwood, Zoe M., Spencer-Briggs, Jenna L., Xia Sean, Xiaoye, Ward, Michael D. and Hyde, Julie 2022. Design and delivery of a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) program in a UK university: experiences and perspectives. Journal of Chemical Education 99 (2) , 592–602. 10.1021/acs.jchemed.1c00453
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The value of postgraduates teaching in undergraduate chemistry laboratories has been a subject of interest at universities in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia, and New Zealand. The role of the teaching assistant (TA) is already well-established in many laboratories in the USA, and such roles have been increasing in popularity in the UK. Postgraduate (PG) demonstrators are however commonplace in UK higher education institutions (HEIs). Despite this, reports of formalized postgraduate programs involving a significant teaching component in the UK are rare. Here, we report on the first example of a Chemistry UK Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) program that started at The University of Sheffield in 2010. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first program reported of its type in the UK. For over 10 years, this program has resulted in a cohort of 24 GTAs who work alongside PG demonstrators in the laboratory and graduate with not only a chemistry Ph.D. but also enhanced teaching experience and professional development. Students in the GTA program have taken on a number of valuable roles, which are described herein. Positive outcomes include development of employability skills, contribution to the consistency of teaching, and knowledge transfer through involvement in training other PG demonstrators. The standard and consistency of the efforts of the GTA cohort have been demonstrated by a significant number receiving recognition for their teaching by gaining Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) accreditation, which is often associated with academic staff who are involved in teaching.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Chemistry
Publisher: American Chemical Society
ISSN: 0021-9584
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 March 2022
Date of Acceptance: 24 January 2022
Last Modified: 21 May 2022 05:15

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