By adopting an ethnomethodological approach to the analysis of focus group interviews with undergraduate students enrolled in and teachers of the introductory course in speech communication, this essay demonstrates that we understand to be a stable, objective aspect of reality--i.e., the inevitability of educational failure--is in fact a human accomplishment, the result of concerted, through unreflective, social action. This paper explores the ways in which students' and graduate teaching assistants' espousal of educational rituals may create and sustain their (or their students') risk of educational failure. Futhermore, the implications of such a perspective for graduate teaching assistants of the basic courses are examined.



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