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Module Enhancement
Graduate Teaching Assistant Modules
Project: A Collaborative Approach to Designing, Implementing and Evaluating Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Modules
Project Team: Geraldine O’Neill, Martin McNamara, Aine Galvin, UCD Teaching and Learning Staff, Clare O’Connor (CLS only)
Collaborator(s): School Module Coordinators


Part-funded by Strategic Innovation Fund II


Initial Module Designs: 2009-2010. Implementation and further module designs: on-going
Graduate teaching assistants play a vital teaching role in universities but often are not confident in their ability to perform this role (Young & Bippus, 2008). In response to this UCD is developing a sustainable education model that has involved the collaboration of a range of staff groups to improve the learning experience for two groups of students, i.e. the Graduate Teaching Assistants and the undergraduate students. The process comprised six steps beginning with design of a generic  and culminating in the phased roll out across a wide range of UCD schools. For more information see Initial Teams

The aim of this project is to:

  • Design a 5 credit teaching and learning module for supporting graduate teaching assistants in their teaching role. PhD students can, where appropriate, use these towards their structured PhD credits.
  • Support school staff in the contextualization of this module to their school/discipline. Each individual module will reside in the school’s suite of modules.
  • Support school staff in the initial co-delivery, leading to supported delivery, of these modules in their schools. 
  • Evaluate both a) the support processes for staff and b) the graduate teaching assistants views of the new modules.

The following steps were, and are, being used to implement the project:

  • UCD Teaching and Learning staff (Geraldine O’Neill) and UCD Teaching Fellow (Martin McNamara) designed a generic module descriptor.
  • UCD Teaching and Learning staff met individual school teams to design the discipline-specific module descriptors to reside within schools.
  • Workshops and individual meetings were held with school staff to share module design ideas and further refine the modules to meet discipline needs.
  • An evaluation tool has been designed to assessment the quality of the modules.

To date:

  • Eight school-specific modules have been developed: One was implemented in 2009/2010 (School of Physics) and further seven to be potentially implemented in 2010/2011. For more information see Initial Teams
  • A module, as part of the suite of new modules on the Graduate Diploma in University Teaching and Learning, has also been developed for staff supporting the GTA’s modules, i.e. Supporting Graduate Teaching Assistants
  • UCD Teaching Fellow (Martin McNamara) has designed a tool for evaluation of the GTA module.
  • UCD Teaching and Learning staff are continuing the individual support to schools.
  • A UCD Group Connect site has been set up in order for UCD Teaching and Learning staff and the school module co-coordinators to share teaching and learning resources.
Next Steps:

In 2010/2011, these school-specific modules will be co-delivered by school staff, in collaboration with UCD Teaching and Learning. The modules will be evaluated and the results of these will be disseminated to UCD staff and to wider international audiences, i.e. conference presentations and peer-reviewed journal articles. Further School/Discipline specific modules will be developed, as requested.

UCD School staff who are interested in developing their own Graduate Teaching Assistants’ module, should contact Dr Geraldine O’Neill, ( or ex. 2839).