Teaching Assistantship Policies
Overview and Guidelines
Draft 3-March 2010
There are two ways to reward undergraduates for providing teaching assistance: (1) by paying them; (2) by granting them credit. This document discusses both of these situations.
Undergraduate Teaching Aides Program
As was the case for the present academic year, the College will have approximately $80,000 available to help fund Undergraduate Teaching Aides (UTAs) in courses for the next academic year; generally these students will be assigned to large, introductory lecture courses. College sponsored UTAs are paid $12 per hour, which means that we can fund about 50 Aides over the course of the year. We envisage the typical UTA working about nine hours per week over the course of 15 weeks for a total of approximately 135 hours per semester. Departments should make requests for UTAs on their Resource Templates.
Departments should advertise their positions, and they should establish a process and a set of criteria for selecting students. Final decisions about who to appoint should be left to the departmental chair, but instructors must be consulted and cannot have UTAs imposed on them. Departments should provide the Dean's Office with a list of its UTAs at the beginning of each semester. Below are some suggested hiring criteria.
- Generally, juniors and seniors should serve as UTAs (using first and second year students is discouraged).
- Students should have the necessary academic background in order to be competent: we recommend that they be a major or a minor in the department in which they will serve as a UTA, have taken and received a minimum grade of A- in the course for which they will be a UTA, and have an overall GPA of at least 3.5.
- Students may not be enrolled in the class for which they are a teaching aide but should attend lectures.
- Students may not enter final grades into the online grading system.
- Students should complete the University's Sexual Harassment Training and receive instruction on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
- Students may receive 100 or 200 level credit, as determined by the department, OR receive College funding (funding might be used for positions that have more administrative tasks such as grading, while credit involves some degree of academic content), but not both.
- Students may receive only one UTA award per semester.
- Generally, 1-2 UTAs are appropriate for courses without discussion groups and 2-6 UTAs for those with discussion groups (depending on class size).
- Instructors are required to have regular meetings with the UTAs outside of class time.
- Instructors are required to provide the students with the opportunity to evaluate the UTAs.
- Students may not receive work study money and UTA funds for the same hours as a teaching aide.
- Instructors should be clear with UTAs on the expectations of the position-perhaps a contract of some sort could be drawn up and signed.
- Instructors may decide to have UTAs fill out course evaluations at the end of the semester about their experience.
- UTAs may perform some or all of the following tasks for a course:
- Proctor exams
- Lead exam review sessions
- Help write exam questions
- Assist in grading that requires little or no judgment on the part of the UTA
- Attend class and take notes (and share with Access students)
- Enter grades into spreadsheets
- Give one or two guest lectures during the course of a semester
- Pick up and return movies and books to library
- Lead movie discussions
- Meet individually with students needing assistance
- Lead small weekly discussion groups
- Sit in back of lecture hall to help with noise issues, etc.
- Attend meetings with the instructor
- Answer student questions on email
- Help students with on-line discussion lists
- Prepare the classroom in various ways before a lecture (e.g., start up Power Point)
Granting Students Course Credit
If the student's duties focus on the following, perhaps granting course credit is preferable.
- Learning to prepare and deliver a classroom lecture, discussion, or exercise
- Reading articles and/or books on teaching and pedagogy
- Engaging in discussions with the instructor and other teaching assistants on teaching and pedagogy or on topics from the class
- Writing a paper: For 200-level credit, the College strongly encourages faculty to include a writing component to the teaching assistantship. The topic of the writing is up to the instructor. Some instructors require reflection papers that may include the student's experience and broader discussions of pedagogy; others require a more traditional research paper on one of the class topics.
If credit is given, departments need to think about whether the number of such credits applicable toward the major or minor should be limited. For example, some minors require just 3 credits at the 200-level. We do not think it is a good idea for a student to be able to fulfill such a requirement by being a teaching assistant.