Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Communication and Information Studies



First Advisor

Dr. Michael Arrington


Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) face the unknown as they negotiate their multiple roles and identities within the graduate school and classroom setting as teachers, students, and researchers. The purpose of this study is to identify the role that institutionalized socialization, social support, and behavioral observation and modeling play for GTAs as they navigate their way through the organizational socialization process.

Interviews with twenty two current and former graduate teaching assistants from a Communication department at a large, southeastern university (GSU) were conducted and analyzed. Findings indicate that institutionalized socialization, which exists at both the graduate school and departmental level, serves to both reduce and create uncertainty and anxiety for GTAs based on messages communicated and also serves the purpose of relationship formation. In examining the social support aspect, findings indicate that the socialization process is facilitated for GTAs through House‘s (1981) four categories of emotional, instrumental, informational, and appraisal support. Finally, behavioral observation aids in the socialization process for GTAs. Observation is used by GTAs to obtain information about teaching behaviors, specifically what they should and should not do in the GSU classroom. Observation also highlighted both positive and negative aspects of the departmental culture and helped GTAs to understand how things work in the department.

Implications, limitations, ideas for what can be done to improve the process for GTAs, and areas for future research are also discussed.

Included in

Communication Commons