A qualitative case study of graduate assistantship experiences at the University of Central Missouri
This qualitative case study was designed to investigate graduate assistantships at the University of Central Missouri (UCM). Specifically, the researcher sought to understand how assistantships prepare graduate students for real world practices, provide a place to perfect their leaned skills, and assist with professional goal attainment. Participants of this study included current graduate assistants, previous graduate assistants, university leadership, and supervisors of graduate assistants. The conceptual framework of this research study incorporated Kolb's (1984), Experiential Learning Theory. This theory was chosen because it gives credibility to the concept that graduate assistantships can enrich learning and professional development (Johns, 2001; Kolb, 1984). Data collection for this study consisted of individual interviews, a focus group and an online survey. Furthermore, data validity and reliability were enriched through strategies such as triangulation, adequate engagement in collection of data, member checking, and rich thick description (Creswell, 2014; Merriam & Tisdell, 2016; Seidman, 2013). Analysis of the data revealed topics such as professional development effectiveness, opportunities and experience, and the organizational value of graduate assistantships. This information provides concrete evidence pertaining to the benefits and value of graduate assistantships at UCM.
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