Teachers and Teaching Assistants: Between Hierarchy, Autonomy, and Cooperation


  • Bea Zumwald Pädagogische Hochschule St.Gallen




teachers, teaching assistants, cooperation, multi-professional cooperation, praxeological educational research, inclusion, problem-centered interviews, documentary method, professionalization


In recent years the employment of teaching assistants without a professional pedagogical qualification in Swiss mainstream schools has increased. In contrast to the established practice of cooperation between professionals in schools, a structural inequality has to be considered in the relationship between teachers and teaching assistants. In this article, I present findings of a qualitative-reconstructive study on the cooperation of teachers and teaching assistants. Methodologically the study follows a praxeological approach to educational research (STURM, 2016). In order to reconstruct the relations of collaboration and the orientations guiding actions, I conducted problem-centered one-to-one interviews (WITZEL, 2000) and analysed these using the documentary method (BOHNSACK, 2014a; NOHL, 2017). Four relational types of collaboration between the teachers and the teaching assistants were identified: the collaborating, the assisting, the delegated, and the substitutive type of collaboration. Further I discuss implications of the reconstructed collaboration for the employment of teaching assistants without pedagogical training in a setting that requires professionalization. Reflecting on the findings, I take professional theory and the concepts of education leadership and cooperation into consideration.


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Author Biography

Bea Zumwald, Pädagogische Hochschule St.Gallen

Bea ZUMWALD ist als wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin im Institut Lehr-Lernforschung der pädagogischen Hochschule St.Gallen tätig. Ihre Arbeitsschwerpunkte sind multiprofessionelle Kooperation, Inklusion, Fragen der Professionalisierung, Ausbildung von schulischen Heilpädagog*innen und qualitative Sozialforschung.



How to Cite

Zumwald, B. (2022). Teachers and Teaching Assistants: Between Hierarchy, Autonomy, and Cooperation. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 23(1). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-23.1.3771



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