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Teaching Assistant Guidelines

Undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences have the opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant. This role provides a great source of personal pride and satisfaction, but it also carries a unique responsibility.

To help, we've provided you with a condensed set of teaching guidelines and a PDF of the full set of guidelines. If you've already agreed to be an undergraduate TA, you will need to fill out the Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Duties Agreement Form.


Responsibilities as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant

As a teaching assistant, you are placed in a unique situation. The role calls for you to:

  • Review the list of students for whom you are responsible
  • Report and/or avoid situations that create a conflict of interest
  • Teach and grade with professionalism and objectivity

Time and Schedule Pressures

You face a rigid academic schedule, and you are enrolled in many courses. Many of your undergraduate assignments will peak at the same time as your TA duties.

  • Identify potential time problems as early as possible
  • Communicate your advance concerns to your instructors

Your teaching and grading work potentially affects so many other people, so it must receive top priority and attention.

Conducting a Class

You were probably chosen for a teaching role based on your good grades and excellent academic performance. You are undoubtedly a good student, but you will have to work in order to become an effective teaching assistant.

  • Prepare your presentation for class
  • Convey a very complex topic or chain of ideas to a large audience
  • Understand the material at a deeper level
  • Answer student questions

Student Engagement

You must involve the students in your class. This is a difficult task, because your students’ abilities will cover a wide range. It is your job to engage as many as you can, and to make the material understandable to those who are willing to work with you toward that goal.

The Need for Commitment

Teaching or grading commits you to a fixed schedule. As a student, you have some leeway to be late for a class, skip classes or vary deadlines. You do not have these luxuries when you teach or grade.

Students expect you to be prompt and timely in your actions. They also expect feedback, help and an open communication pathway.

You and the Course Instructor

Before the semester begins, you and the course instructor should discuss your expectations for the semester. Together, you should fill out the Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Duties Agreement FormOnce you agree on duties for the semester, the faculty member should file a signed copy with the Department.

The Instructor’s Expectations of You

  • Effective communication at the start of the semester
  • Familiarity with the class material
  • Good preparation for class
  • Timeliness and punctuality
  • Availability to the students.
  • Feedback to the course instructor
  • Adherence to the course instructor’s rules and guidelines
  • Formation and evaluation meetings as required.
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