Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Lisa Melonçon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carl Herndl, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Metzger, Ph.D.


Composition Theory, First Year Composition, GTA Training, Pedagogy, Rhetoric, Graduate Assistant Training


In a First Year Composition (FYC) setting, many courses are taught by graduate assistants, regardless of if these instructors are truly qualified to teach. Incoming instructors must balance their roles as students with that of brand-new teachers, with each of them attempting to incorporate their own pedagogical approach. Therefore, it would benefit FYC programs to have a solid training program in place, specifically with the pre-semester orientation, in order to smoothly transition these new instructors.

To clarify, this is not to suggest that many programs are not already strong. It does suggest that programs must adapt to the changing climate within universities in order to avoid becoming stagnant. In this study, I specifically suggest the implementation of a brief introduction to three topics during orientation: pedagogical approaches, classroom management techniques, and defined disciplinary terminology.

To answer this question, I will be completing a qualitative research study based on the questionnaire responses of 33 graduate assistants in the English department at the University of South Florida. The information gathered from instructors within this pilot study includes the degree they are pursuing and, based around personal experiences with the department’s beginning of semester orientation, if they found the training to be helpful as they entered their new roles.

While analyzing these materials, I focused on the graduate assistants’ personal beliefs that contributed to the way they viewed training, with the goal of incorporating changes that would increase their preparedness and self-efficacy. This can lead to future implications on how instructors and FYC program directors can use this knowledge to strengthen current programs and individual pedagogical approaches.