Exploring the perspectives of the pedagogical role of Teaching Assistants (TAs) from a Personal Construct Psychology (PCP) perspective: How do they support the development of independent learners?
Marville, Ysanne Alana
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The study (paper 1) sets out to explore TAs perceptions of their practice by investigating the incidence of scaffolding present in their work with students. A mixed- methods approach to data collection involved a focus group of 12 TAs, and structured classroom observations followed by semi-structured interviews of 7 TAs. This allowed the researcher to discuss what was observed as well as discover their views on their and other TAs’ practise. Varying degrees of mediation were observed: scaffolding, acceptance but challenging pupil’s response, bridging, exploring systematic thinking, and using process oriented questions. Very rarely did TAs give answers to problems in isolation. TAs often were responsible for supporting students in regulating their behaviour, and indicated that their focus was not solely on students academic attainment but more so on their emotional and social development as well. Implications for practise within the school system are explored. Following findings from paper 1, this study (paper 2) sets out to further explore the roles of TAs from the perspectives of students and parents. TAs indicated that a significant aspect to their role was developing the social and emotional wellbeing of the students they supported. This paper explores to what aspect those views were shared and valued by students and parents. A mixed-methods approach to data collection involved a focus group of 3 students, 21 parental questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews of 7 TAs. 64% of parents indicated that TAs provide social and emotional support to their students, and 95% of parents indicated that the role was important in supporting their children in having successful school experiences. Students indicated that TAs knowing them well was one of the most important aspects needed to support them. The theme of ‘student nurture’ is explored, as TAs perceive this to be one of the main aspects of their role. Implications for practise within the school system are explored.
DEdPsy in Educational Child and Community Psychology