Masters Theses


"Graduate programs in the US enroll large numbers of international students who are employed as graduate teaching assistants (GTAs). The contribution that international GTAs make to the US economy, education system, and the advancement of science and technology is significant. The current study is an attempt to answer the following research questions.

  1. What is the connection, if any, between the culture of the IGTA and the challenges they face?
  2. What challenges are specific to IGTAs and American GTAs (AGTAs) in Technical Communication at Missouri S&T?
  3. Do challenges that female and male IGTAs face differ?

A connection between the native cultures of the IGT As and the challenges they face could not be made due to the small scale of the study. However, the three countries, China, Sri Lanka and India, represented by 6, 8, and 11 IGTAs show a slight difference in the extent to which their native national cultures have an influence on the IGTAs' role as instructors.

Kachru' s model of world Englishes (1992a) was used to find out the connection between IGTAs' background in using English and how often they face language related challenges. Results indicate that a majority of IGTAs from former British colonies face less challenges, as students and instructors, than a majority of IGTAs from countries that started using English as a global communication tool.

Challenges specific to GTAs in the Technical Communication program include not having computer labs at all or with the software Camtasia for teaching, not having a background in Technical Communication, and having to deal with students who have a negative attitude toward Technical Communication.

The study shows that female IGTAs face more challenges more frequently than male IGTAs on Missouri S&T campus both as students and instructors. Areas that are more challenging to female IGTAs than male IGTAs are culture, language, and competency"--Abstract, page iii.


Northcut, Kathryn M., 1964-

Committee Member(s)

Drowne, Kathleen Morgan
Neiss, Jana Lynne


English and Technical Communication

Degree Name

M.S. in Technical Communication


Missouri University of Science and Technology

Publication Date

Spring 2013


x, 71 pages

Note about bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 69-70).

Geographic Coverage

Sri Lanka
United States


© 2013 Subhashini Herath Gamagedara, All rights reserved.

Document Type

Thesis - Restricted Access

File Type




Subject Headings

Communication of technical information
Graduate teaching assistants
Graduate teaching assistants -- Women
Graduate teaching assistants, Foreign
Graduate teaching assistants, Foreign -- Women
Graduate teaching assistants, Foreign -- China
Graduate teaching assistants, Foreign -- Sri Lanka
Graduate teaching assistants, Foreign -- India
Universities and colleges -- United States -- Graduate work

Thesis Number

T 10326

Print OCLC #


Electronic OCLC #


Link to Catalog Record

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