Supervising Teaching Assistants (TAs)
There are over 1,500 graduate students at Purdue who are currently teaching undergraduate classes. Their responsibilities range from having their own classes, to leading recitation or lab sessions, to grading homework assignments and tests for the instructor. These T.A.s are critical to the educational system at Purdue and it behooves those who supervise T.A.s to make their experience as successful as possible.
The Center for Instructional Excellence offers several programs to help T.A.s enhance their teaching skills. Two series of workshops are offered each semester. The College Teaching Workshop Series 1 is called The Basics of Teaching. These workshops are facilitated by members of the CIE staff. Topics include:
- Student-Teacher Relationships: Establishing Rapport With Your Students
- University Policies and Procedures Related to Teaching
- Designing Instruction: Where Do You Start?
- Presentation Techniques to Enhance Learning
- Using Feedback and Assessment to Improve Your Teaching
- Micro-Teaching: Practice Your Teaching
- Discussion Techniques to Enhance Learning
- Using Objective Tests
- Using Subjective Tests and Assigning Grades
- Dealing With Cheating: Prevention and Response
T.A.s can earn one credit hour by enrolling in EDCI 589A and attending 9 out of the 10 workshops.
The College Teaching Series 2: Expanding Your Teaching Toolbox workshops are presented by outstanding faculty on campus. T.A.s are encouraged to check the CIE website for the list of new titles every semester.
CIE also offers a program called the Graduate Teaching Certificate where T.A.s can earn a certificate showing that they are interested in improving their teaching. Requirements include teaching two classes, participating in the Micro-Teaching workshop, being observed and reflecting on the observer's feedback, conducting mid-semester and end-of-semester course/instructor evaluations (and making appropriate changes in their course based on that feedback), and attending at least four workshops on college teaching.
T.As. are also very welcome to come to CIE and meet with a staff member one-on-one to discuss teaching or any problems they may have with their classes.
No References are available at this time.
Words of Wisdom
- Have clear expectations about their job requirements. How many hours a week are they expected to work? Do they need to have office hours? If so, when and how many?
- What types of decisions can they make in their classes? For example, can they amend the syllabus, the handouts or the course policies?
- Meet with your T.A.s on a regular basis. Many departments have weekly or bi-weekly meetings so that instructions can be given and questions can be answered. Instructors of labs, for instance, may walk through the entire lab for the T.A.s and explain what the common problems are that can occur in that particular lab. Also, be sure to explain the objective of each lesson. Oftentimes T.A.s are good at teaching the lesson, but need help from their course coordinator to be able to explain the relevance of a topic and why it is being taught.
- Observe your T.A.s at least once during the semester to give them feedback on how they're doing.
- Have an open-door policy so that T.A.s who are having problems in their class can come to you for advice.
- Have your T.A.s who are in charge of recitation or lab sections attend the lectures given in the course so they know what was said and can build on that information.
- Meet with your T.A.s who will be doing the grading and give them specific grading rubrics to use to mark the homework or assignments. Are they to mark on the papers? How much? Or how little? Having a training session will make the semester's grading much more fair and consistent.
- If you have an international T.A. who is having trouble with the language, find out where to get them some help. At Purdue, you can contact the English as a Second Language Program in Heavilon Hall at 494-3769.