Graduate teaching assistants; critical colleagues or casual components in the undergraduate laboratory learning? An exploration of the role of the postgraduate teacher in the Sciences

Laboratory training is key to many science subjects and those that teach the practical laboratory skills maintain a pivotal role in undergraduate science training. Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) are regularly used in higher education institutes to teach these practical lab skills. The GTA can be involved in both laboratory teaching and assessing all levels of undergraduates. This varied and challenging role requires support from the institute and if appropriately provided the learning experience can be rewarding not only for the undergraduate, but also for the GTA. In this review, the critical role of the laboratory GTA will be examined, their support requirement highlighted and the multi-dimensional benefits of GTA facilitated research-orientated laboratory learning outlined.