STEMskiller: Skill Set Map for Mentors of Early Career Researchers
Graduate assistant (GA), graduate teaching assistant (GTA), or graduate research assistant (GRA) training: definition, examples, why important
Graduate assistants of all types serve the teaching and research needs of faculty members. Distinctions are sometimes made between types of assistants based on the work they perform for more senior colleagues:
Graduate Assistant (GA): Graduate Assistants are appointed to perform various types of duties other than those related directly to teaching or research. Most commonly, these duties relate to administrative functions for the school, college, and/or department, such as academic and student advising, recruiting, event planning, and data management.
Graduate Research Assistant (GRA): Graduate Research Assistants perform duties in support of college, departmental, or faculty research, which may or may not relate directly to the student’s thesis or program of study. Research assistantships may be financed through funds from gifts, grants, contracts, state appropriations designated for research, or through an academic program’s resources.
Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA): Graduate Teaching Assistants work under the direct supervision of faculty members and are assigned duties related to instruction. These include activities such as assisting in the preparation of lectures, assignments, and exams, leading discussion sections, conducting laboratory exercises, holding office hours and review sessions, grading papers, and keeping class records. In consultation with the supervisor, the teaching assistant works to gain teaching skills and an increased understanding of the discipline.
 University of Southern Maine Graduate Studies. (2020). Graduate assistant handbook 2020-2021, p. 3. https://usm.maine.edu/sites/default/files/grad/GA%20Handbook%202020-21%2006.12.2020.pdf.
Useful GA/GTA/GRA training introductory resources:
Berkeley Graduate Division Graduate Student Instructor Teaching & Resource Center. (2020). Teaching guide for GSIs. Select area of interest from the “Teaching Guide” menu at: https://gsi.berkeley.edu/
Comprehensive resources for all relevant aspects of teaching and learning activities at the “pre-professor” level.
Central Michigan University. (n.d.). Welcome new graduate assistants! https://www.cmich.edu/colleges/cgs/current/ga-training/Pages/default.aspx
Sample training module for all types of assistants that could be used as a model for other universities implementing core training. If used in that manner, would just need to be customized to local needs.
University of South Florida Academy for Teaching and Learning Excellence. (2020). Teaching assistants. https://www.usf.edu/atle/faculty/tas.aspx
Preparatory module for new teaching assistants, also could serve as a model for universities implementing such training. Includes list of training opportunities, a link to a sample “Preparing for College Teaching” course, and key “Additional Resources”: “Starting the Semester,” an instructional glossary (specific to USF, but perhaps applicable at other institutions), a US “Higher Education Glossary,” a “Syllabus Template,” and description of evaluation materials relevant to teaching assistants.
Tags: IPS IA; IPS CritT; IPS CreaT; IPS WC; IPS OC; IPS R; IPS QL; IPS IL; IPS T; IPS PS; PSR CE; PSR IKC; PSR ER; PSR LL; PSR GL; IAL IntL; CompQ
Peer Review: None
Table of contents:
- 2.1. Learning, teaching and supervision basics for early career researchers
- 2.1.1. Teaching and learning theories, styles, and methods
2.1.2. Training, mentoring, and supervising PhD students and postdocs
- 126.96.36.199. Recruting international doctoral students and postdocs
188.8.131.52. Working with your international students
2.1.3. Teaching for researchers/mentoring for scientists
Author: Stephanie Krueger
Peer Reviewer(s): None
Last Updated: October 28, 2021