TA Guidelines

Interaction with Instructors

  • The course instructor has overall responsibility for the structure and delivery of the course, and TAs are essential for ensuring that the course runs smoothly and successfully
  • TAs should obtain from the instructor clear guidelines for the specific tasks required of the TA and deadlines
  • TAs are expected to be in contact with the instructor before the first class and be available to meet with the instructor during the first week of class. TAs generally meet with the instructor regularly throughout the semester (at least once a week).
  • TAs should attend the first class and ask the instructor whether continued attendance is required. For TAs new to a course or the TA experience, attendance throughout the semester is usually expected.
  • TAs assist in assessing and reporting student performance to the instructor. This includes identifying top and/or struggling students and identifying problems or concepts causing difficulty for students.

Interaction with Students

  • TAs should respond to students' e-mails, forwarding common questions to the instructor and other TAs. If the instructor is using Sakai or Blackboard, solutions to commonly asked questions can be posted on the Discussion Board if the instructor permits.
  • Office hours are required as part of TA duties and should be discussed/coordinated with the instructor.
    • All office hours will be held in the Statistics Education Center (SEC) in Old Chemistry 211 A/B. A schedule of those hours will be posted in the SEC and on the course web page.
    • TAs are required to have at least three office hours in the SEC and are expected to use those hours doing the following items:
      • Help students
      • Familiarize themselves with course materials from other classes.
      • Grade
      • Improve teaching skills
    • TAs are expected to answer students' questions for any course for which they have sufficient background. They are not expected to answer questions if they are not familiar with the course material. Office hours in the SEC should not be used for the completion of work unrelated to TA responsibilities.
    • Changes in office hour times should be communicated ahead of time to the students and instructor via e-mail and on the course web page.
    • The TA is responsible for finding a replacement to hold office hours in the event that he/she cannot hold his/her office hours.
  • Grading
    • The TA may be asked to draft, proctor, or grade course exams, homework, quizzes or lab reports. The instructor will specify the grading responsibilities.
    • Solutions provided by TAs should be clear and readable, including notes about what graders expect in the solutions. For solutions posted on the web, typeset solutions are preferred although clearly hand-written scanned solutions may be an option.
    • A clear, consistent grading scheme is needed, particularly when multiple TAs share the grading of an exam or homework. TAs should ask the instructor for grading schemes.
    • TAs should provide feedback to students on homework through short comments. Longer explanations should be provided in the posted solutions.
    • Time frames for grading/recording grades should be decided in coordination with the instructor.
    • TAs should be respectful to student privacy with respect to grades.
  • For review sessions, TAs are expected to work with the instructor to prepare material. For lab sessions, TAs are expected to work the lab on their own prior to the lab period and discuss any questions with the instructor.
    • If conducting a review session before an exam, a room must be reserved - see the DUS assistant in Old Chemistry 214 for room reservations.
  • TAs may be expected to work with instructors to maintain the course web site - see instructor.

TA Resources

  • Instructors are the best resource for information about the course. Stay in close contact with them.
  • Talk to students who have been a TA for your course in previous semesters.
  • If you experience conflicts or problems related to your TA duties - with students, the instructor, or outside sources -- the DUS or DGS are available for discussion.
  • TAs are encouraged to improve their teaching skills by consulting faculty, working with experienced TAs, utilizing opportunities offered by the Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) and the Graduate School Career and Professional Development Center. Available opportunities include:
    • Courses on College Teaching
    • Teaching Workshops
    • Certificate for Teaching¬†
    • Faculty and/or Peer Evaluations
    • Classroom video taping and evaluations by the CIT