Curriculum and Models of Master’s-Level Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) Training in First-Year Composition


My study examines the structure and administration of graduate student instructor (GSI) training programs at master’s degree granting institutions in the United States where GSIs serve as instructors of first-year composition (FYC) as part of an assistantship or other funding agreement. Through review of publicly available data such as institutional websites, course catalogs, NCES IPEDS data, Carnegie Classifications, accreditation information and curricular materials, I am developing a profile of the institutional contexts and methods for training GSIs to teach. I am conducting surveys and interviews with program stakeholders (for example, writing program administrators, instructors of training programs) to provide qualitative context to these institutional and instructional choices in their programs.

This research will elucidate the nature of Graduate Instructor Training (GIT) at master’s-granting institutions without PhD programs. These institutions have programs of study for students with varying career goals including but not limited to industry, government service, secondary education, and community college education. The nature of master’s education has shifted to career preparation, and it is no longer broadly assumed in English and Writing Studies that these students will proceed to a PhD program. This shift inherently changes the curricular needs of students within those programs, especially for those who may be asked to teach courses as part of an assistantship but who have no further plans to continue in the field of education. More attention to this distinct programmatic context is needed, not only for research on teaching preparation, but also for work on disciplinary enculturation and professionalization. My work will also bring further attention to the importance of understanding the preparation and mentoring graduate students receive in master’s-granting programs and how administrators adapt their training programs when field-recommended best practices are not suitable for local circumstances. While my work prioritizes training programs that prepare students to teach first-year composition, this work raises questions about the models of training we employ for graduate students that can be applied across disciplinary lines.

Timeline of Data Collection and Study Procedures

Survey & Interview Information

Looking for information as a possible study participant or a researcher interested in the process? Below I’ve included copies of materials related to Phases 2 and 3 of my study.