Soha Youssef's Graduate Lecture

Soha Youssef’s graduate lecture, a public presentation of her dissertation prospectus, will be on Monday, October 17 at 1:00pm in 206 East Hall.  All are welcome to attend and participate in discussion of Soha’s planned project, “International Teaching Assistant (ITA) Training Program at Bowling Green State University: Putting the Needs of ITAs and the Expectations of Native English-Speaking Students in conversation”.

Below are the audio and print versions of her abstract.

International Teaching Assistant (ITA) Training Program at Bowling Green State University: Putting the Needs of ITAs and the Expectations of Native English-Speaking Students in conversation

Recent scholarship (Liu, 2005; Mutua, 2014) shows a stigma against International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) in terms of our accent, language proficiency, ethnicity, and foreignness. This stigma is evident particularly in end-of-semester course evaluation forms, in which undergraduate native English-speaking students’ (NESSs) expectations and frustrations are typically voiced. However, there is a gap in literature as to what informs such stigma and whether it stems from preexisting notions or if it evolves from ITAs’ interactions with their undergraduate native English-speaking students (NESSs). The goal of my proposed study is to fill that gap by putting in conversation ITAs’ professional and academic needs from a training program, undergraduate NESSs’ expectations from ITAs, and Writing Program Administrators’ (WPAs) perceptions of the components of an effective training program. To do so, I am conducting a two-part mixed methods study with the three groups as participants: the first part consists of a short survey and the second of an interview. In addition, I am conducting a content analysis of the existing ITA training course at BGSU (ESOL 5050) with the intention of comparing its components to what WPAs in other graduate degree-granting institutions consider as the strengths of their training programs. The purpose is to discover the heuristics that effective ITA training programs are comprised of. I am using grounded theory to code, analyze, and interpret the data, for it should help me navigate my situatedness as a researcher, instructor of my research participants, and an ITA myself.

The proposed study will have implications as to stakeholders, such as undergraduate NESSs and WPAs, allowing them an opportunity to reconsider the notion of cross-cultural communication and apply it to their on-campus experiences and decision-making, respectively. Improving ITA training programs and opening cross-cultural communication channels will result in high morale among ITAs who indeed contribute to diversity in campus communities and in the classroom. As for undergraduate NESSs, the study may have implications for them to share the responsibility of effective communication with ITAs. Moreover, the study may have practical implications for WPAs as they construct training programs for ITAs and consider means of fully utilizing end-of-semester course evaluation forms for ITAs’ professional development.  


Liu, J. (2005). Chinese graduate teaching assistants teaching Freshman composition to native speaking students. In E. Llurda (Ed.), Nonnative language teachers: Perceptions, challenges, and contributions to the profession (pp. 155-77). New York: Springer.    

Mutua, C. N. (2014). Opposite worlds, singular mission: Teaching as an ITA. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, (138), 51-60.

Updated: 11/08/2018 08:58AM