Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

McClure, Lisa


AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF RYAN J. THORNSBERRY, for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in ENGLISH, presented on December 27, 2013, at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. TITLE: COMPOSITION, PEDAGOGY, AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF EFFECTIVE STUDENT-TEACHERS: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF TRAINING PROGRAMS FOR TEACHING ASSISTANTS IN ENGLISH DEPARTMENTS MAJOR PROFESSOR: DR. LISA J. MCCLURE The history of teaching assistant training has followed a tenuous road of development. For English departments, the primary role for teaching assistants has always been staffing sections of the basic composition sequence. Because inexperienced teachers are teaching inexperienced students, a fundamental concern was, and still is, what is the best way to prepare teaching assistants? This study explores this complexity by investigating the popular trends and approaches utilized by current TA training programs. This qualitative study surveyed 195 English departments from various Division I colleges and universities and focused on three basic questions: 1) What types of training programs do English Departments offer TA? 2) During their tenure as TAs, what efforts are used to enhance their teacher training? 3) How do institutions determine the effectiveness of their training programs? In an effort to identify TA training elements, the data gathered consisted of a program's schedule and duration, supervision, materials (physical as well as technological), required courses, TA opportunities (professional and teaching), assessment tools, and training for International Teaching Assistants. From a small sampling, this study reported findings collected from a 10-item Teaching Assistant Training Survey and an 8-item Demographic Questionnaire. The findings highlighted several training program issues such as time, duration, conductors, materials, courses, and assessment tools as key components of TA training. The findings suggested that even though most teaching assistant training programs contained some similarities, most training programs continue to evolve. Future research into the basic questions, what, how, why, and when of TA training, still need to be conducted in order to provide more detailed conclusions.




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