In our department, Undergraduate Teaching Assistants (UTAs) are students currently enrolled at UVM (typically majoring in Psychological Science) who assist faculty with their undergraduate courses. UTA experience looks great on a resume and in graduate school applications, and it helps students develop transferable skills that are useful for a wide variety of career outcomes.
What Does an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA) do?
UTAs assist the faculty instructor and graduate teaching assistants in keeping the course running smoothly. In addition, UTAs often play an important role in providing additional support to students who are enrolled in the course. Some examples of typical UTA duties include attending class meetings and taking detailed notes, holding regular office hours, administering makeup exams, providing the instructor with feedback on course materials, assisting with grading, and holding review sessions before exams.
Finding a Position as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA)
The availability of UTA positions varies from semester to semester and is not guaranteed. UTAs are always assigned to a specific course.
A good candidate for a UTA for a specific course:
- Has already taken the course at UVM and performed well (typically earning an A- or higher)
- Has room in their schedule to attend the course
- Is highly interested in the course material
- Can commit the appropriate number of hours per week (typically 9-12) devoted to the UTA position (see below)
- Is comfortable providing academic support to fellow students
If you are interested in serving as a UTA, look over the course schedule for the upcoming semester and consider which course would be a good fit for you based on the criteria above. Once you identify the course for which you would like to serve as a UTA, send a brief, polite email to the faculty who is teaching the course that contains the following:
- Introduce yourself (name, class year at UVM, etc.)
- State that you are interested in serving as a TA for a specific course (e.g., PSYS 130)
- Briefly describe why you think you are a good fit to TA this particular course.
Most faculty ask students to then either fill out an application, complete a one-on-one interview, or both.
How Undergraduate Teaching Assistantships Work
UTAs register for PSYS 191: Teaching Assistantship. Keep in mind that even if it looks like there are seats open, PSYS 191 is not a traditional course and UTA positions are not guaranteed to be available. Students will receive a letter grade for the course. PSYS 191 counts toward the Psychological Science B.S. degree requirements. For B.A. students, PSYS 191 counts as an elective.
Most UTAs register for 3 credits, but in some cases, a lesser number of credits is appropriate:
- 1 credit = 3-4 hours of work per week
- 2 credits = 6-8 hours of work per week
- 3 credits = 9-12 hours of work per week.
Students and course instructors will fill out and sign an Undergraduate Application Form. This documents the expectations for what, when, where, and how students will complete their work as a UTA. Faculty will also indicate how the work is graded and what types of assignments students must complete (e.g., papers, presentations). UTAs are also required to sign a confidentiality agreement and to complete the required Sexual Assault Prevention Course. You and your faculty advisor must agree on the number of credits for which you will register, and this should be accurately reported on your application form. Signed applications and confidentiality agreements should be sent to Professor Abaied, Director of Undergraduate Studies, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once Professor Abaied receives your signed paperwork, they will enter an override so that you can register for PSYS 191. When you do so, please be sure to register for the correct number of credits, as the system default is only 1 credit.
Still have questions?
Students with further questions about becoming a UTA should contact Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Jamie Abaied, at email@example.com.