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Abstract

Library Graduate Teaching Assistants (LGTAs) are crucial to the smooth running of undergraduate teaching laboratories; however, they are oftentimes exiled to superficial duties such as enforcing health and safety and procedural instruction. The aim of this intrinsic case study, carried out in an Irish higher education institution, was to characterise the support required by LGTAs to develop the key pedagogical skills that would assist then in effectively demonstrating undergraduate science teaching labs. Thematic analysis of the skills gap analysis undertaken indicated an overall shortcoming in LGTA confidence in their ability to effectively demonstrate. The under-supported pedagogical sills areas were mapped onto sub themes of engagement, communication, grading and providing feedback. This provided a rationale to develop a bespoke training course to assist and underpin the LGTAs development as novice academics; to address pedagogical skills gaps and this was delivered following a socially constructed, “just-in-time” pedagogy. Upon completion, the effectiveness of this model of LGTA pedagogical training to suitable support LGTAs in their pedagogical development was evaluated by stakeholder survey and discussion for a. Overall, it was noted that the training course had a very positive influence on the LGTAs; as they developed a noticeable increase in confidence in their ability to demonstrate, they took on additional responsibilities in the lab and developed their own community of practice. Based on the perceived improvement observed in this intrinsic case study, it is recommended that with continual training and appropriate support LGTAs can take a more central role in the STEM undergraduate teaching lab. An in-depth set of recommendations devised from this study is included and would be of particular value to novice educators in higher education and those that supervise, mentor and manage LGTAs.

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