Special issue


In 2000, Sharpe proposed a framework for graduate teaching assistant (GTA) training based on three key principles: departmental training, faculty training, and accreditation. Sharpe’s paper culminated in a call for Higher Education (HE) institutes to adopt this framework. Whilst the principles of Sharpe’s work remain relevant, the shape and structure of HE and accrediting bodies has changed due to the increasingly competitive market environment. Herein we provide an updated framework for GTA training based around implementation at a large English Russell Group University. We identify seven key elements for effective GTA training based on literature. We then demonstrate how this framework and the key elements can be implemented in practice, using GTA role descriptors and input from staff in Departments and Faculty. We demonstrate how the framework is applicable on a broad subject basis and how training is now supporting the 950 GTAs annually who work across the nine Schools within the Faculty of Science and Engineering, at the University of Manchester. The developed modular training sessions are mapped out and are benchmarked against both the Vitae Researcher Development Framework and the UK Professional Standards Framework allowing postgraduate students to apply for HEA accreditation through Advance HE (after suitable practice). Finally, the report discusses the benefits of implementation as well as lessons for future action, providing a set of key principles for others who want to develop their existing GTA training provision or set up a new training programme.

Practitioner Notes

  1. GTA roles have been mapped to identify where teaching and learning training, delivered by Faculty, can be dove-tailed with department and subject specific training.
  2. Evidence from other GTA training studies has been drawn upon to build sessions which support the apprenticeship of these future practitioners.
  3. Mapping against recognised CPD initiatives, such as the Vitae Researcher Development Framework and HEAs UKPSF is enabling accreditation for trainee recognition.
  4. A diversity of roles has been combined into a map for modular training sessions.
  5. The training programme is evaluated and the barriers and challenges to implementation are discussed.