Roles, Characteristics and Professional Needs of Instructional Assistants in an International School
This research studied the roles, characteristics and professional needs of instructional assistants in an American school in Nonthaburi. This mixed methods research employed the use of a questionnaire and in-depth interviews of three groups of the key informants. The population of this study was 69 instructional assistants of the school who were questionnaire respondents for their views of the roles, characteristics and professional needs. Three groups of the key informants in in-depth interviews consisted of 2 administrators, 4 teachers and 13 instructional assistants. The statistics used in data analysis was percentage, mean, and standard deviation, while the qualitative data analysis methods were grounded theory and content analysis. The results revealed details in four major categories. First, the most important roles of the instructional assistants were in supporting 1.1) students--in taking good care of them 1.2) teachers--mainly in arranging the teaching and learning materials and sorting them into groups for easy use at all times and 1.3) the school by always keeping information about the students confidential. Second, the best characteristics of instructional assistants are in 2.1) working behavior-enthusiasm in working 2.2) teamworking skills: ability to work as a team and 2.3) knowledge of teaching: having teaching techniques for effective delivery. Third, the highlighted professional needs are to update knowledge about ICT all the time, to learn about the teaching techniques and to be well-versed in their main subjects. Fourth, the three skills that the instructional assistants needed to develop were 4.1) the knowledge skills 4.2) the teacher skills and 4.3) the problem-solving skills of children behavior. Based on the findings of the study, it is recommended that international schools should professionally develop their instructional assistants to academically benefit from their qualified personnel.