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E-motional Interaction Between Teaching Assistants and Students:Expressing emotions via WebCT
Unformatted Document Text:  Teaching, Emotion, & Technology 10 student, perhaps in the same building but different rooms. As Carleton and Strand (1991) put it, TAs have to struggle to achieve a balance in their “dualistic role of teacher-student” (p. 20). When computer-mediated instruction is introduced into the picture, the emotion associated with switching roles becomes much more intense. Although WebCT is championed for allowing students access to course material seven days a week and 24 hours a day, it should be pointed out that it also provides the same access for TAs. Thus, the classroom is extended through space and time. For example, if a TA gets up from a late dinner at home to go check his or her personal e-mail account, he or she also has access to WebCT. Suddenly the role transfer from teacher to student is blurred even further with the introduction of the roles held in the home: daughter, girlfriend, husband, son, or friend. Emotional labor from the workplace suddenly invades the home and complicates the private arena that should be traditionally reserved for troubles associated with emotion work. However, TAs cannot avoid the impact of emotion work either. In relation to emotion work, Pratt and Doucet (2000) show how ambivalent feelings in organizational relationships can be problematic. According to Pratt and Doucet, emotional ambivalence is “the association of both strong positive and negative emotions with some target (such as a person or object/symbol)” (p. 205). Thus, as Pratt and Doucet point out, emotional ambivalence involves a wide array of emotions and is always relational (self-object, or self-other). This notion of emotional ambivalence is one way to look at how graduate student teaching assistants experience emotion work. We will demonstrate later how this notion is played out in the presented study. The research on emotions expressed and experienced by teaching assistants toward students, as well as emotions experienced and expressed by students toward teaching assistants, is not well developed. Yook and Albert (1999) contributed to the study of emotions as they are experienced by students through their perceptions of international teaching assistants. They concluded that students’ perceptions of international teaching assistants are based in particular on the students’ intercultural

Authors: Tsetsura, Katerina., Bigam, Mellisa., Buford, Laura. and Chen, Xiaolei.
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Teaching, Emotion, & Technology 10
student, perhaps in the same building but different rooms. As Carleton and Strand (1991) put it, TAs
have to struggle to achieve a balance in their “dualistic role of teacher-student” (p. 20). When
computer-mediated instruction is introduced into the picture, the emotion associated with switching
roles becomes much more intense. Although WebCT is championed for allowing students access to
course material seven days a week and 24 hours a day, it should be pointed out that it also provides
the same access for TAs. Thus, the classroom is extended through space and time. For example, if a
TA gets up from a late dinner at home to go check his or her personal e-mail account, he or she also
has access to WebCT. Suddenly the role transfer from teacher to student is blurred even further with
the introduction of the roles held in the home: daughter, girlfriend, husband, son, or friend.
Emotional labor from the workplace suddenly invades the home and complicates the private arena
that should be traditionally reserved for troubles associated with emotion work.
However, TAs cannot avoid the impact of emotion work either. In relation to emotion work,
Pratt and Doucet (2000) show how ambivalent feelings in organizational relationships can be
problematic. According to Pratt and Doucet, emotional ambivalence is “the association of both
strong positive and negative emotions with some target (such as a person or object/symbol)” (p.
205). Thus, as Pratt and Doucet point out, emotional ambivalence involves a wide array of emotions
and is always relational (self-object, or self-other). This notion of emotional ambivalence is one
way to look at how graduate student teaching assistants experience emotion work. We will
demonstrate later how this notion is played out in the presented study.
The research on emotions expressed and experienced by teaching assistants toward students,
as well as emotions experienced and expressed by students toward teaching assistants, is not well
developed. Yook and Albert (1999) contributed to the study of emotions as they are experienced by
students through their perceptions of international teaching assistants. They concluded that students’
perceptions of international teaching assistants are based in particular on the students’ intercultural


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