Resources – TA Guidelines
By the second week of fall and winter quarters and before the sixth week of spring quarter, all eligible graduate students receive a preference sheet listing the courses available for them to teach the following quarter. TAs rank those courses according to their teaching interests and strategy for professional preparation.
Following the policies established in the TA Guidelines (recognized by the TA union as the labor agreement between the department and TAs), the TA Coordinator assigns graduate students to courses based on their preferences, departmental need, professor veto, and course experience. To reduce the anxiety of teaching for the first time, the Coordinator gives highest priority to first-time TAs (usually fall quarter of a graduate student’s second year in the program), guaranteeing that they will be assigned to a course no lower than third on their list—usually they are assigned to their first choice. Otherwise, TAs are assigned in order of departmental need: first the 10 series and English 4. If the list of potential TAs for a course (other than English 4) exceeds the number needed (say seven graduate students list 10A as their first teaching choice, but we only need 4), the Coordinator will send the list to the faculty member leading the course. That faculty member is guaranteed the right to veto graduate students s/he would prefer not to work with. That list will also be reduced by experience: graduate students are rank ordered for each class in reverse order of the number of times they have taught it (i.e., a TA who hasn’t taught the course previously is first in line).
FACULTY RESPONSIBILITIES (excerpted from TA Guidelines)
Well before the quarter they will be working with TAs, faculty receive the following information:
Teaching assistantships are half-time employment. Thus, TAs are not required to work more than an average of twenty hours per week during the three months of employment. (This includes time attending lectures, preparing for sections, holding sections, holding office hours, and grading assignments.) If a TA ever finds that a course consistently requires more time than that, s/he should notify the instructor of record (IR). If the TA and the instructor are unable to reach a satisfactory solution, then the TA should consult with the TA Coordinator.
Department policy controls TA workload for the following courses:
English 10A, B, C: 40 students and two discussion sections per TA. The Professor will determine whether the students will be required to submit either two papers, a midterm and final exam, or three papers and a final exam.
English 80, 85, 90: 40 students and two discussion sections per TA. Course requirements commonly include a midterm, essay and final exam, or two essays and a final exam.
IRs will not overenroll sections. If the IR wishes to enroll more students in the course than TA workload can bear, then the IR will be responsible for holding additional sections and grading the extra work.
IRs are encouraged to require the first substantial assignment no later than the sixth week so that all of the grading is not concentrated at the end of the quarter. IRs should be involved in establishing grade norms (through norming sessions) and in equalizing the workload among TAs. They should also be available to grade a limited number of papers or examinations for TAs with high enrollments.
To avoid undermining TAs’ authority and to enhance TAs’ effectiveness, IRs should use an early lecture to explain the role and authority of the TAs.
TAs may be called upon to provide the IR with advice regarding the nature of exams and other assignments, and they are entitled to read and comment on exams in advance; however, it is never their responsibility to compose the exams themselves.
TAs may expect a meeting with the IR before instruction begins, and they are required to attend any meeting the IR schedules throughout the quarter. TAs should be advised early as to the course outline, standards and regulations, attendance policies, and so on so that they may plan their quarter.
Faculty Evaluation of TAs
The IR is expected to attend at least one section led by each TA in the course and afterwards to discuss his or her observations with the TA. This procedure helps the TA to improve, and it also provides the basis for the evaluation the IR writes at quarter’s end. Those evaluations will remain in the TA’s teaching file to aid in the assessment of the TA for teaching awards and, ultimately, for successful job applications.