The English graduate assistantship program is composed of three parts: tutoring, research, and teaching. Depending on the amount of assistantship received, GA’s will work 10-20 hours weekly on their assignment. GA’s generally tutor their first year and teach their second year. Research assistants are assigned as needed in the department.
Graduate assistants may work as tutors in the ACU Writing Center. The Writing Center is a facility where any writer–from ACU, from other Universities in Abilene, or from the community at large–can come discuss writing tasks of any kind. Tutors facilitate this service by helping writers at any part of the writing process, from brainstorming to final revisions, and working through questions of composition in one on one sessions. The tutoring experience is paired with instruction on composition and writing center theory. The opportunity to converse with writers with various backgrounds and writing goals provides the GA invaluable preparation for classroom teaching or post-graduate work in composition theory.
As well as the opportunities in the writing center, GA’s can work as research assistants. Working as a research assistant provides experience in the professional world of English academia through a partnership with a current professor. GA’s will be paired with a professor who will assign tasks, like gathering research materials and information about professional conferences. GA’s may work as research assistants any semester of their graduate experience as the department sees fit.
After gaining experience tutoring in the writing center, graduate assistants may also teach in the composition classroom. The GA teaching experience is paired with the learning experience of teaching instruction. GA’s are assigned their own entry level composition and rhetoric class, attend weekly meetings with the director of writing programs to discuss successes, problems, lesson planning, etc., and are observed periodically by current professors. As a teacher, the GA will receive classroom experience and professional contacts who can speak to personal teaching aptitude. Since many doctoral programs require candidates to teach in environments similar to the composition and rhetoric classroom, the experience can prove essential to success in further studies as well as professional teaching careers.