Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MEd)

Degree Level



Curriculum and Instruction


Felicia Lincoln

Committee Member

Freddie Bowles

Second Committee Member

Xinya Liang


English as a Second Language, Higher Education, Intelligibility, International Teaching Assistants, Pedagogical Skill


The University of Arkansas is a large, diverse public university. International teaching assistants (ITAs) represent 20% of the total graduate teaching assistants at the University of Arkansas. In the Fall semester of 2015, the University of Arkansas ranked 9th among U.S. universities based on the number of ITAs instructing undergraduate classes. Combining quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis methods, this study investigated domestic undergraduate students’ perceptions of their ITAs and of themselves in courses instructed by ITAs. The descriptive quantitative findings showed that the two most significant challenges facing ITAs are American students’ perceptions of their pedagogical skills and their intelligibility, in that order. The hypothesis testing from the inferential quantitative analysis resulted in two rejected hypotheses and eight supported hypotheses. The rejected hypotheses showed that students from medium-sized cities have significantly more positive perceptions of ITAs than students from big cities; and female students have significantly more positive perceptions of ITAs than male students. The supported hypothesis indicated that significance differences among students’ perceptions of their ITAs are not moderated by the diversity of their neighborhood backgrounds; the diversity of the high schools they attended; the colleges they were enrolled in; year of enrollment; GPA; age; prior cross-cultural experiences; and number of courses with ITAs. The qualitative findings showed that although the student found one of her ITAs unintelligible, she generally favors ITAs over ATAs.