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teaching development, graduate students, teaching assistants, programming, higher education, empirical, professional development


Interdisciplinary (i.e., university-wide programming) and disciplinary (i.e., programming open to participants from one college or department) teaching development programs for graduate students have been used for many years in higher education. Currently, research on the benefits of these teaching models remains scant in terms of a contextualized understanding, and empirical studies are needed. The purpose of this study was to determine graduate students’ perspectives related to interdisciplinary and disciplinary teaching and learning experiences. Two online surveys were used: a quantitative survey and a qualitative follow-up survey. Three participatory focus groups were also conducted to allow for further in-depth exploration in both an interdisciplinary and disciplinary group setting that represented seven distinct colleges. Statistical and thematic analyses were conducted with survey responses, and thematic analyses were conducted on focus group data. Similar themes emerged from the survey and focus group data identifying perceived benefits of participation in either interdisciplinary or disciplinary teaching development. Respondents’ perceived benefits were related to: (a) becoming a better teacher; (b) social learning; and (c) that while the perceived benefits of the models vary, the outcomes of both experiences are shared. The lived experiences of these graduate students expand the characterization of interdisciplinary and disciplinary programming. This study points to the need for graduate student programs—specifically teaching development offered by educational development units—to provide both interdisciplinary and disciplinary teaching development opportunities that achieve a blend of benefits for learners.


Centre for Teaching & Learning


Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning


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Peer Reviewed/Refereed Publication


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Original Publication Citation

Bishop-Williams, K. E., Roke, K., Aspenlieder, E., & Troop, M. (2017). Graduate student perspectives of interdisciplinary and disciplinary programming for teaching development.The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 8(3).


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