Looking through Narrow Windows: Problem-Setting and Problem-Solving Strategies of Novice Teachers

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Abstract: This article presents results from a qualitative study of the development of teaching knowledge among twelve novice graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) of college composition. Contributing to recent empirical research in composition studies about the processes by which GTAs learn to teach writing and adopt a professional teaching identity, this study examines how GTAs cultivate adaptive expertise through critical reflection on teaching challenges. Analysis of 30 semi-structured interviews revealed that GTAs located teaching challenges in students, curriculum, classroom management, and pedagogy. GTAs rarely used problem-solving strategies that would help them understand and avoid problems, and they rarely turned to disciplinary or programmatic resources to resolve challenges. The author recommends that writing pedagogy educators consider a detect-elect-connect model of transfer to encourage GTAs to routinize problem solving with disciplinary resources. One potential avenue for incorporating this model is to use action research in pedagogy education.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-55
JournalWPA: Writing Program Administration
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018


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