Overwhelmed Tutors and Teaching Assistants
March 26, 2013 2:55 PM   Subscribe

What resources are there that address overwhelm faced by tutors and teaching assistants - grad students who are also taking on a teaching role?

As part of my fellowship (training and work as a grad-school academic writing tutor) I am working on a research project about overwhelm in grad school, and I am thinking about writing about when tutors like myself are overwhelmed by our stuff and have to deal with our tutees being overwhelmed (pretty much the #1 comment we've been hearing).

I've found some material about overwhelm about grad students in general, and there's some leads to teachers being overwhelmed, but how do I go about finding material that relates to tutors and teaching assistants in particular? My professor suggested education journals and The Writing Lab though apparently the latter can be hard to search through.

(Part of my query involves working out what terms to search for that will bring up "tutors" as in "grad students who are also taking on teaching roles" rather than any other form of tutoring.)
posted by divabat to Education (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The search terms at least in the US would be "graduate teaching assistant" "GTA" "TA" and "overwhelmed."

Here's one google search with those terms.

The Chronicle Grad School Life forum would also be a good place to run searches.
posted by vegartanipla at 4:02 PM on March 26, 2013

Oh, and "graduate instructor of record" is another search term if the grad student is actually leading the class independently.
posted by vegartanipla at 4:03 PM on March 26, 2013

You may want to talk to unions representing grad students. (For example.) They're one group with an interest in collecting data on the disconnect between what grad students are paid to do, what they're expected to do and what they actually have time to do.

Berkeley calls grad students who are teaching 'graduate student instructors' (GSIs), regardless of what they're actually teaching. I don't think this is used elsewhere in the UC system. Harvard has some arcane name as well. In any case, 'graduate student instructor' might be a better bet for searching than 'graduate instructor of record' because it's slightly more generic, even if no one but Berkeley uses the GSI acronym. (Where I am, TAs are technically an/the instructor of record.)

Are you also interested in research assistant (RA) experiences? For me, being an RA is code for 'get paid to do your research', but for someone else I know in a different subject, it's code for 'do someone else's grunt work', which is open to many of the same issues as teaching.
posted by hoyland at 4:44 PM on March 26, 2013

I don't have specific sources, but here are some ideas for places to look.

I would consider joining the wcenter listserv and then posting this question there. There are lots of helpful folks there who, collectively, seem to have encyclopedic knowledge of writing-center-related publications and research studies.

The International Writing Centers Association Bibliography may be another starting point.

The Writing Lab Newsletter archive is available and searchable on its own site. Basic keyword searches seem to work fine there, though you could always us the IWCA bibliography to see which articles/issues you might need.

CompPile may not have everything in full text (and it's not particularly intuitive) but most references have a keyword list associated with them, so you'll find some search terms eventually.

Finally, here is the IWCA list of databases known to index Writing Center Journal and/or the newsletter. You can also search a bibliography of the Writing Center Journal here at the Writing Centers Research Project.
posted by BlooPen at 5:32 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

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