Le Castellet, © Marva A. Barnett

"The Seamless Web: Developing Teaching Assistants as Professionals"

Marva A. Barnett and Robert Francis Cook

In Development and Supervision of Teaching Assistants in Foreign Language. AAUSC [American Association of University Supervisors and Coordinators] Issues in Language Program Direction, Vol. 3. Ed. Joel Walz. Boston: Heinle, 1992: 85-111.


The seamless web of our title is a metaphor for an academic life whose parts all fit together in ways that can be made visible, as good cloth is visibly warp and weft at once. What we call teaching and research, study and writing, thinking, arguing ,and guiding group work are parts of a single enterprise, whether the practitioner be an undergraduate beginner, a graduate assistant, or a chaired professor. Anything that teachers do well can be traced back to an intellectual principle.

Thus at the core, research and teaching activities are very much the same sort of scholarly business, and we have something to gain by emphasizing that truth in our training programs for graduate students. In this article, we describe in detail-and offer the syllabus and case studies for-a professional development course for first-year graduate teaching assistants (TAs) in French, a course that encompasses the skills and values inherent in both research and teaching.