Others give TAs high marks

By ANGIE FORD/Montana State News

While some students object to classes taught by graduate teaching assistants, others give TAs high marks.

Montana State University uses professors, adjuncts, and graduate teaching assistants (GTA’s) to teach their first year composition courses (Writing 101). Montana State News spoke with MSU undergrads—and their GTA’s—to see how they felt about the issue: Does lack of teaching experience necessarily equate to a lack of quality in the classroom?

Montana State University uses professors, adjuncts, and graduate teaching assistants (GTA’s) to teach their first year composition courses (Writing 101). Montana State News spoke with MSU undergrads—and their GTA’s—to see how they felt about the issue at hand.

The majority of students questioned around campus didn’t remember if their Writing 101 courses had been taught by GTA’s or not—what they remembered more was whether the class has helped them in their college writing efforts since, and what kind of a person their instructor was.

Justin Luke Provance, a sophomore double majoring in Spanish and Health Enhancement, said that he learned a lot in his first writing class. When asked, how the class helped him in his courses since, Provance replied, “I’ve learned my writing style, how to identify my audience, and tailor my writing to a specific audience, and I’ve gained a lot of confidence.”

Provance said that he didn’t know the difference between GTAs, adjuncts and professors when he took his class, but in retrospect, he thought the fact that GTA’s are students as well as teachers is a plus.

“I actually feel like they would be better at teaching since they’re also in the students’ shoes,” he said.

GTA’s agreed that they’ve been handed a challenge when it comes to stepping into a classroom with very little training, but they said that their dual role as students and teachers is an opportunity to build a greater rapport with their students.

Miles Nolte, second year GTA, noted, “I think GTA’s can use that to their advantage if they’re aware of the possibility of building that kind of ethos. I absolutely cultivate that, because I recognize it can be an advantage … if you choose to use that as a device for engaging your students.”

Edited by Matt Rule.

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