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    ‘Restor(y)ing their position in the spotlight, please welcome back on stage… Postgraduate Students who teach… or Graduate Teaching Assistants... or Teaching Postgrads… or…’

    Noonan, Gina (2020) ‘Restor(y)ing their position in the spotlight, please welcome back on stage… Postgraduate Students who teach… or Graduate Teaching Assistants... or Teaching Postgrads… or…’. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    This is the story of the experiences of eleven postgraduate research students who teach within the Institute of Technology (IoT) sector in Ireland. Despite being present within the university sector, both nationally and internationally, the concept of teaching postgraduates, within the IoT sector, is a relatively recent one, and to date, very little research has been conducted into their experiences. They have been on stage, but not centre stage…they have supported from the wings. Adopting a narrative approach, this research presents the stories of these postgraduate students and shines a spotlight on their occupational positioning and identity within the sector. Underpinned by a poststructuralist stance, which sets out to deconstruct existing structures, the study problematizes the concept of Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) and explores the many different challenges that face teaching postgraduate students within the sector, as voiced by the postgraduate students themselves. Guided by a Foucauldian theorisation, that suggests power can be pervasive and capillary, the study highlights how threads of power are interwoven throughout the entire GTA experience, but also shows how there is agentic power within the postgraduates themselves. The study also considers how these teaching positions are being shaped by the impact of neoliberalism within higher education and how their emergence has gone hand in-hand with cost-saving measures and efficiencies. But just as narrative may be viewed as a messy form of methodological inquiry (Connolly, 2007) and poststructuralism favours a deconstructed form, this study is also presented using a non-traditional format. Rather than following a conventional writing style, this study embraces performative writing as a means of exploring different ways of knowing. The performative nature of the study is a way of drawing explicit attention to the artificiality of conventional academic writing and highlights the importance of writing as inquiry in itself. In addition, through the adoption of performative writing in this study, a space has been created for the reader to create their own meaning and to explore gaps in knowledge. The eleven individual stories are peppered throughout the study, as a way of indicating that the postgraduate students are omnipresent throughout, just as they are within higher education institutions. But You will also see that this study is continuously interrupted by Celisne, who acts as a disruptive discursive companion, and represents the many subjectivities of those who have been part of this study, thereby inviting You to consider the multiple interpretations of this story. Finally, this study also makes claims to knowledge from a pedagogical perspective, in that it has impacted upon my own pedagogy and practice, making me more cognisant of the importance of involving all learners, including postgrads who teach, in their own learning, listening to them, and ‘learning with’ them, rather than ‘teaching to’ them.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: spotlight; Postgraduate Students; teach; Graduate Teaching Assistants; Teaching Postgrads;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Adult and Community Education
    Item ID: 13543
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2020 12:19
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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