Postgraduates as teachers: exploring expectations and highlighting disciplinary differences


Postgraduates are increasingly being given greater teaching responsibilities in higher education institutions (HEIs) in the UK. They are often required to undergo some form of training to prepare them for this role. Increasingly, the training that is offered is quality assured and leads to either an accredited qualification or enables the postgraduate to accumulate transferable credits. The training is often generic with opportunity for postgraduates to explore disciplinary differences through engagement with the material. What is less well known, are the initial expectations postgraduates have prior to undertaking such training and how these expectations potentially could shape the ways in which postgraduates engage with the training they are offered. In this article, empirical evidence is presented that suggests the disciplinary background of the postgraduates influences the expectations they have of their role as teachers, and the expectations they have of the associated training they are provided to develop their capabilities and skills as teachers. Findings suggest that postgraduates from pure sciences are more expectant of gaining particular transferable skills that enhance their knowledge of teaching whilst postgraduates from social sciences are more expectant of using the characteristics of their discipline to inform their teaching.
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