The Impact of Graduate Teaching Assistants within Human and Health Sciences
: An Exploration of Staff Experiences of the Graduate Teaching Assistant Role

  • Vanessa McNulty

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Aim: To explore the experiences and perceptions of the Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) role from the perspective of academic staff within the School of Human and Health Sciences at The University of Huddersfield. The study aims to develop recommendations for good practice, identify barriers to practice and factors that could improve practice for the GTA’s within the school.

Literature: Previous research on the topic of GTAs has focused upon the GTAs experience of their roles reporting on a range of issues for GTAs including identity, ambiguous positioning, and conflict. This study was designed to explore the staff perceptions and experiences of the GTA role as there is a paucity of data available on this topic.

Method: Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis as the approach to the study, permission was sought from the Dean of the school to contact and recruit a sample of staff for the study. Thirteen face to face, semi structured interviews of staff within the school of Human and Health Sciences were conducted. Interpretative analysis of the transcribed data was conducted to reveal insights into the staff experiences.

Findings: The findings provided insight into the varied staff experiences of the GTAs from which four themes were identified: role; function; value and future. Some findings reflected common issues from existing research such as identity, whilst others highlighted areas for consideration including the evaluation and the future of the GTA role.

Conclusion: Establishing the GTAs identity has been compounded by a range of factors. Staff identified benefits from the employment however, in order to measure success of the GTAs, clarity is required on how they are evaluated. Whilst staff perceive GTA role as an enabling factor in obtaining a career within higher education, the future of the GTA needs further consideration.
Date of Award25 Oct 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMichael Snowden (Main Supervisor) & Jamie Halsall (Co-Supervisor)

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