- TA's Responsibilities to Students
- TA's Responsibilities to the Faculty Member
- TA's Responsibilities to Themselves and Fellow TAs
- TA's Responsibilities to the History Department
- Supervising Faculty Member's Responsibilities to TAs
- History Department Staff
- Office Equipment
- Instructional Development
- Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS)
- Fellow TAs
- TA Orientation Committee
- First Sections
- Promoting Discussion
- Administrative Concerns
- Review Sessions
- Make-up Exams
- Office Hours & Alternative Classroom Arrangements
- Add/Drop Procedures
- Honors Sections
- Sexual Harassment
- Dress Code
- Learning Disabilities/Disabled Students
This manual has several goals. One is to outline the responsibilities of teaching assistants and of the faculty members who supervise them. Another is to provide general guidelines and practical suggestions to help TAs become more effective teachers.
These goals cannot be achieved without mutual cooperation and respect between faculty members and TAs. The faculty member provides guidance and support, drawing upon his or her experience and expertise. The TA, in more direct and daily contact with the students, keeps the faculty member informed of developments in the sections. A feeling of common effort and an environment free of intimidation, gossip, and destructive competition are essential conditions for effective teaching.
The principal aim of section meetings is to provide a forum for students to discuss the ideas and themes of the course. Discussion sections allow the student to speak in order to gain knowledge and understanding and to exchange ideas and opinions. TAs are essential to this process. The TA determines the general course of the discussion, makes sure the most important issues are brought forth, and keeps the discussion from wandering off track. The guidance of the discussion needs to be done with firmness as well as tact. It is the TA's duty to see that the students talk to each other and to each other's points.
The section may be used for other purposes such as quizzes and student questions. The student should feel free to call upon the greater knowledge and experience of the TA to clarify matters of fact or interpretation. The section, however, should not become a lecture session. A good discussion will let the student, and sometimes even the TA, emerge with new insights and understanding. It is not easy to run an effective discussion section, but when it works it makes all the effort worthwhile.
1. Come to section meetings on time and prepared. You should come to class with a plan in mind, having worked out a line of questioning that will enable you to cover the main points and themes of the week's readings.
2. Do what is not easily done in lecture hall. Section meetings are the arena where students can ask questions and clear up any areas of confusion.
3. Learn students' names--a high-priority task for you. Consider using name cards for each student and yourself. This also allows for the students to learn each others' names.
4. Try to identify students who are experiencing difficulty early in the quarter. Keep a watch for signs such as inadequate writing skills, poor study habits, poor preparation, and repeated absences. If appropriate, offer personal assistance, or recommend campus resources.
5. Clearly explain what the section grade is based on and prepare a section syllabus stating the section requirements and grading system (provide a copy of the syllabus to the faculty member). Handle the administrative matters of attendance, make-up exams, and add/drop petitions. [Clear all permissions for make-up exams with the faculty member first. See part V.F (Practical Tips/Make-up Exams) for the departmental policy on make-ups.]
6. Maintain an environment conducive to learning. Elicit and support intellectual dissent and critical thinking. Encourage students to think for themselves. Actively supervise the discussion, but avoid dominating it and be alert to ways to maximize the students' participation. Be gentle and supportive (and always avoid sarcasm) when making corrections in class and on written assignments.
7. Pursue and maintain academic honesty and integrity. Make it hard for cheating to occur.
8. Be sensitive to students' feelings, especially concerning issues of race, sex, class, age, national origin, and religion. Use appropriate gender and racial terms and be specific in your use of language. Be sure to read the campus website on sexual harassment at www.shot9.ucsb.edu. (See section on Campus, Department and UC Regulations.)
9. Be available to students. Maintain two office hours per week and schedule additional office hours by appointment as necessary. Consider student needs when scheduling office hours. (Is reasonable?) Office hours should be conducted without interruption. Be sure to arrange your office hours in coordination with your office mates. Consider holding extended office hours during exam and paper periods.
10. Read and grade exams and papers in a timely fashion and supply ample feedback through written comments. Under usual circumstances, written work should be returned within one week. If you are a TA in a General Education "Writing Requirement" course (e.g., History 4, 7, 8, 17, 80, 90), devote extra effort to help your students improve their writing skills.
11. Be aware of campus deadlines and policies for dropping, adding, grade option changes, withdrawals from a course, incomplete petitions, etc. This will help you advise students more effectively.
12. Work with the faculty member and fellow TAs to ensure consistency in grading. Find out early in the quarter what your professor expects for a grad distribution.
13. You are responsible for reporting final course grades for every student on your class list. Make sure that every student in your section appears on your class list, and that you can account for every student on your class list.
14. Grades must not be posted in any fashion nor given out over the phone or by email. Students who wish to know their grade before the Registrar officially notifies them must see you in person or make a written request to you. Student's will sometimes give you a stamped envelope so you can send their blue books back to them at the end of the quarter.
15. Know where the fire exits are for your classroom.
16. At the end of the quarter, you must submit your grades through e-grades. There is a link to the site on the history department’s homepage.
1. Attend all lectures. Pay attention and take notes.
2. Read all assigned readings.
3. Make sure students understand lecture content.
4. Provide feedback to the faculty member by expressing views from your experience as well as relaying students' reactions and concerns.
5. Attend and actively proctor exams. You must be available to your students and faculty member during exams and to the faculty member for any grading meetings.
6. Be supportive of the faculty member in section. Remember, your role is to explain and clarify the course material as presented. Avoid negative undercutting of texts or the faculty member, but feel free to express differing interpretations or other viewpoints.
7. Be ready to provide samples (or indeed sometimes all) of your graded materials for the faculty member's inspection. This is one of the best methods faculty members have of working to ensure uniformity of grading over sections.
8. Provide the faculty member with copies of your section syllabus and all handouts you design for your students.
9. Sign up for an e-mail account and learn how to use it. For an e-mail account, see the U-Mail Help Desk in Phelps Hall for assistance. Be sure to give your e-mail address to Catherine and Darcy. You may also want to consider creating a website using u-web, www.uweb.ucsb.edu.
1. TAs and all graduate students must be enrolled in 12 units per quarter. (History 500 counts for 4 of these.)
2. As part of the History 500 course, TAs are required to attend the TA training seminars scheduled throughout the year.
3. Don't permit TAing to eclipse your own graduate studies. If you feel that you are spending too much time, go to the faculty member and discuss priorities. It is, after all, a half-time job.
4. Confer regularly with your fellow TAs. You are highly encouraged to arrange to visit each other's sections, to get ideas and to see how the same material might be handled differently.
1. As TAs, part of your success depends on establishing a good working relationship with the office staff. Practice courtesy and consideration in dealing with the office staff. Know your responsibilities as a TA and be informed of office regulations. Be aware of the staff's responsibilities, and try to direct questions and problems to the appropriate person. (For staff duties see Section IV, part A.) Except in extraordinary circumstances, the office staff WILL NOT complete any of your administrative/paperwork obligations, especially in reporting individual grades. (It is imperative that you make sure that every student attending your section is on YOUR grade sheet, not someone else's.) Finally, do not disturb the office staff outside of the normal hours of operation (M-F 9-12, 1-4).
2. Hand out course evaluations in all your sections at the end of the quarter and have a trustworthy student return them in a sealed envelope to Mike Tucker in the department. You and your supervising faculty member can review the results of your evaluations after grades are submitted. A computer-generated quantitative summary of these evaluations becomes a permanent part of your file in the department.
3. TAs must attend the annual TA orientation meeting and TA training sessions throughout the year. This is a department requirement.
4. Follow department add/drop policies. (See Section V, part H on add/drop procedures below.)
5. Provide Catherine Salzgeber and the faculty member with your office hours as soon as possible. If these change during the quarter you must inform the department (through Catherine), the faculty member, and your students.
1. Meet weekly with all TAs to provide supervision, support and instruction. (TAs enroll in this lab/seminar as History 500 for 4 pass/no pass units.)
2. Help TAs prepare for their section by communicating lecture goals and themes. Suggest discussion questions and themes to be elicited from the readings. Indicate when certain material needs emphasis in sections because it will not be covered in lecture. Give suggestions for dealing with a difficult section.
3. Provide guidance in grading and help to create a uniform standard of grading among the TAs. Often this involves extensive reviewing (or spot-checking) of TA-graded papers and exams. Faculty members are responsible for setting grading standards for exams and papers, and making sure the TAs understand them. One efficient way to do this is to hold a meeting after each examination to discuss grading standards.
4. Establish clear and uniform policies for make-ups, incompletes, late papers, and add/drops.
5. Evaluate each TA's performance at the end of the quarter on the standard departmental form. TAs can--and should--ask to see these evaluations at the end of the term. Evaluation should be based in part on a prearranged visitation of one entire section meeting for each TA. Provide feedback in the form of concrete suggestions for improvement; this is often best done in a private consultation with the TA right after the visitation. Classroom visits should be undertaken with care to avoid undermining the TA's credibility or jeopardizing rapport with the students. A faculty member may also want to review a TA's course evaluations or a TA's videotaped section (only with the TA's permission) and discuss these with the TA.
6. Monitor each TA's grade curve for fairness and consistency.
7. Establish a policy regarding contested grades. Cooperate and consult with the TA involved when handling a contested grade or a difficult or disruptive student. TAs should inform the lecturer of problems.
8. Recognize that being a TA is a half-time job when developing the course requirements. The TAs primary responsibility is to make progress in their coursework and their research. Be realistic about the number of papers, quizzes, and exams the TAs are expected to handle.
This section is designed to give you some introductory information about resources that are available to you.
The staff will assist graduate students in various ways relevant to their status as students, teaching assistants, and teaching associates. The department as a whole seeks a cordial atmosphere; please respect the staff's primary responsibility to their jobs. The following is a list of the departmental staff and their duties relevant to graduate students.
Maria Perez: 893-2993 (Monday through Friday, 9-12 and 1-4); e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Maria Perez, M.S.O., is the chief administrator for the department, supervising and coordinating all staff in the office. She acts as the Chair's main staff person. If a graduate student needs to see the Chair, she can arrange the appointment.
Darcy Ritzau: 893-3056 (Monday through Friday, 8-12); e-mail: email@example.com. Darcy is the Graduate Program Assistant, the main staff person dealing with currently enrolled graduate students. In consultation with the Chair, she makes TA section assignments and handles the reapplication process for TAships. She also is in charge of student evaluations of TAs, which you may see after grades are turned in. She assigns TA offices and holds all office keys (including extras if you get locked out). Additionally, she handles TA fee remissions, fee fellowships, and departmental money including fellowships and travel. Please note that she is in her office during the mornings only.
Carolyn Isono-Grapard: Phone: 893-2224 (Monday through Friday, 1-5); e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Carolyn is the Graduate Program Assistant for the Public History program. She deals with graduate admission and deals with some aspects of administration for TAs, such as employing TAs, verifying TAs' registration, and making changes in employment information. See her to get on the payroll and to bring your employment information up to date (your paycheck depends on this). Please note that Carolyn is only here in the afternoons.
Loretta Holt: 893-2392 (Monday through Friday, 9-12 and 1-4); e-mail: email@example.com. Carol is Staff Assistant for Accounting. She deals with necessary paperwork for graduate student employment other than teaching assistantships (e.g., readers, graduate student assitants, etc.). Carol also handles payroll. Signed monthly timesheets for hourly employees are submitted to her. (NOTE: TA positions are monthly and require no timesheets.) Please remember that if you have not checked in with Carol to do paperwork for each new job (or change in existing position), it is impossible to receive a paycheck for that job. Regardless of what a professor says, the job does not exist until Carol inputs it on-line. Carol administers extramural grant funding once it has been awarded. (Catherine handles the whole application process, then she turns the file over to Carol.) She prepares the forms which initiate stipend checks associated with outside funding.
Catherine Salzgeber: Catherine Salzgeber:_ 893-2991 (Monday through Friday, 9-12 and 1-4); e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Catherine is the Academic Personnel Assistant and the Contracts and Grants Liaison for the department office. She advertises temporary teaching positions which grad students might be eligible to teach as Teaching Associates, prepares employment forms for Teaching Associates. She also assists grad students with grad proposal submissions through the Office of Research. If you are going to apply for any grant the first thing you should do is bring her a copy of the grant guidelines so she can determine if you must submit your proposal through the Office of Research or not. If you fail to do so the Office of Research and Accounting will hold up your funding until you do so. Submitting your proposal through the Office of Research will mean having to give the OR an extra few days to review your proposal, so plan ahead and she Catherine as soon as you decide to apply. don't wait until you've written your proposal. She also collects and posts the office hours in the first week of classes. It is important to give her information on which sections you are TAing, where your office is, and what arrangements for student contact you are making (availability of home phone number, office hours, etc.). Any changes must be relayed to her as soon as possible. She and Mike Tucker must be informed if your section or office hours have been canceled due to illness or emergency or if you are arranging other times and places to meet.
Mike Tucker: 893-2992 (Monday through Friday, 9-12 and 1-4); e-mail: tucker@history. Mike is Staff Undergraduate Advisor and Assistant. He deals with scheduling of rooms, textbook ordering, undergraduate records, and assists faculty advisors with undergraduate advising. If you need to make any changes in section schedules, you must work through Mike. If you need a room for a review session or a rescheduled section you must submit your request to Mike at least ten days in advance to book a room through the registrar's office. Make-up exams should be scheduled as far in advance as possible, because space is limited. Mike WILL NOT PROCTOR or time your make-up exams; that is the TA's responsibility. Mike will also handle student evaluations as your sections turn them in, and your grade sheets. Finally, Mike receives and files items for the "student pick-up" bin and provides grade books. He and Catherine must be informed if your section or office hours have been canceled due to illness or emergency or if you are arranging other times and places to meet. If you have any other administrative questions, Mike will most likely know the answer.
Deanne Day- Phone 893-2991 (Monday through Friday, 8-3); e-mail: email@example.com Deanne is an Administrative Assistant/Receptionist. She answers the main History telephone line, sorts and delivers the mail, duplicates materials for classes that don't have TA's, deals with copier and duplicator problems, and inventories supplies. Deanne also assists the Undergraduate Advisor with book orders andTA evaluations; and is in training for contract and grant administration
B. Office Equipment
Use equipment at your own risk between 12 and . There is no support at this time, since the office staff is on lunch break. If possible, try to schedule your copying needs before the office closes for lunch at or after it opens again at .
Digital duplicator: The digital duplicator, located in the copier room, is for your use in duplicating material for sections (it is only to be used for 25 copies or more). The instructions are located on the front of the machine. You must use this machine for duplicating course-related materials.
C. Instructional Development – www.id.ucsb.edu
Instructional Development is located in Kerr Hall on the first floor. This department directs the activities of the campus TA training program. It also offers a videotaping service, which gives you the opportunity to evaluate the teaching methods you currently use, discuss what you would like to change, and explore new teaching techniques.
The History Department requires that all TAs with three quarters of experience or less be videotaped in a classroom during their first year. Please do this during the FALL QUARTER. You may arrange for a videotaping of your section on your own, at any time. You will then view and discuss your tape with an instructional consultant. After this consultation, you will meet with a lead TA in the department to discuss teaching strategies and substance. To set up a taping session, call Television Services, 893-3341 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The consultant's evaluation of your tape will not become a part of your history department file. Instructional Development will report to the department that you have fulfilled your obligation.
Instructional Development publishes the TA Digest, which offers tips on teaching. This office also produces booklets that address specific teaching problems. A particularly helpful booklet is Possibilities: Scenarios and Scripts to Help Teaching Assistants Respond to Student Writing in All Disciplines. They also maintain a set of videotapes on instructional strategies, including one produced by history department TAs in 1987 titled "The History TA's First Section."
D. Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS) – www.clas.ucsb.edu
It is not always possible to provide students with the help they need, either because of time constraints or your own lack of training in dealing with particularly difficult educational problems. You can refer students with serious skills problems to CLAS. This program offers general study skills workshops, applied workshops tailored to particular class requirements, and individualized writing instruction. The general workshops cover skills such as exam preparation, time management, note-taking, memory and concentration, textbook reading, problem-solving strategies, textbook underlining, effective speaking, rapid reading, and critical reading. The writing lab offers assistance at all stages of composition, from planning to revision. CLAS services are free and available to all registered UCSB students. Each quarter CLAS publishes a schedule for the workshops. Students need to sign up for appointments at the writing lab and the general workshops in advance.
Students should be reminded that whenever a student talks to someone else (CLAS, another TA, etc.) about a writing assignment, that student should double-check the other person's advice with you. You will grade the assignment, after all.
Perhaps one the best resources available to any TA, new or continuing, is a fellow TA. Experienced TAs can offer suggestions on planning sections, dealing with problem students, grading, adding and dropping students from sections, and almost any other question that arises when you are TAing. And if they don't know something, they can usually tell you who might. Visiting another TA's section is an excellent way to see your own classes in a new perspective; be sure to secure advance permission to visit. Since there is no "perfect" way to teach, talk to several TAs to see how they would approach the problem you are facing.
Committee members will be available for consultation throughout the year. The lead TAs will hold weekly office hours specifically to meet with TAs to discuss any problems or questions related to TAing that may arise. Use of these office hours might include, but are not limited to, such questions as clarification of departmental policies, discussion of ideas or problems regarding section, section videotaping, etc. In cases where the lead TAs are unable to be of assistance, they can offer suggestions regarding who to see in the department to handle particular problems. The members of the TA Orientation Committee are:
John Lee: e-mail email@example.com, 805-893-2286.
Campo : email firstname.lastname@example.org
: email email@example.com
Andrea Thabet: email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrea Thabet: email: email@example.com
The following suggestions have been culled from the TA Digest, experienced TAs, and previous departmental TA manuals. These tips are not hard-and-fast rules, but they can help you deal with issues that all TAs face. They may alert you to potential problems, as well as provide you with possible solutions.
1. Encourage everyone to say something in the first section. If students get used to talking from the very beginning, they will usually continue to do so. You might ask them to tell what historical figure they'd like to meet and why, or ask them to analyze a brief document.
2. Since most people are uncomfortable speaking in front of strangers, try to create a common bond among the students in the first section. One method is have several small groups work out the answers to questions (a non-threatening quiz, or a textual analysis of a short passage from a primary source), and then discuss their findings with the rest of the class.
3. Establish your policies and grading in the first class. Clarify how participation will influence grades, and do this early and clearly. Explain how you define participation, and consider offering alternative assignments to students who are uncomfortable speaking up in class, such as having them talk to you privately in your office. Also remind students that they must get a C, not a C-, if they are taking the class pass/no pass. It is against University policy for them to tell you what their grading option is.
1. Before initiating discussion of a topic, stimulate student recall of the material. Ask for someone to summarize the topics covered in lecture that week. Or provide a brief summary of material that was covered last week. Or simploy ask, "Did you like the reading?"
2. If you want students to talk, consider the environment. Students may engage in a discussion, as opposed to a question-and-answer session, if they can make eye contact with each other. Arranging the desks in a semi-circle is one method of furthering discussion. (Some TAs prefer to sit in this circle, but if you use the blackboard a lot, you may prefer to stand.)
3. Start with questions that are basic (factual rather than analytical) and easy, ones that everyone can answer, to maximize participation at the outset. Gradually increase the difficulty level of the questions to ones which ask the student to analyze and synthesize information from the readings and lectures.
4. Think of classroom silence as productive. After all, students deserve a chance to think before they answer. Try not to get impatient if nobody comes up with an answer instantly.
5. When a class appears reticent to discuss a topic, consider breaking it into small groups briefly and reconvening it for reports, or consider allowing a student to lead the discussion.
6. Small groups or debates can be particularly effective if arranged the previous week: divide the class, and tell each group what material it's responsible for. You can also set up debates a week ahead, where students have to both defend their side's position and defend it from the other side's "attack."
7. Try assigning students to write a paragraph each week in preparation for class about some selected portion of the assigned reading. Have them turn the paragraphs in at the beginning of class. Groups of students can be assigned different portions, thus ensuring that each student will be knowledgeable about at least some part of the assignment.
8. Try to get students to speak to the entire class, not just to you.
9. Ask students to support their opinions and to give examples. This helps make complex material easier to understand, and it reminds students that they need to be able to support their ideas with evidence. Try to get your students in the habit of citing their sources.
10. Vary the types of questions you use. Use fill-in-the-blank questions for warm-up exercises, or whenever you sense a sudden pocket of common ignorance in the class. Open-ended questions permit students to elaborate and think through their answer rather than just give a brief response. If students cannot respond to your first question, rephrase it. Your follow-up question can help the students to focus on previous material that might be relevant, or to draw their attention to some limitation or inconsistency in a previous response.
11. Develop a game plan for silent students. Some can be emboldened to participate if you stress that you understand that everyone worries about appearing foolish or ignorant, and it is okay to say things that are not 100% accurate. (Sometimes wrong ideas can promote a very lively discussion.) Assure them that you want them to speak up when they don't understand something, for it is very likely that quite a few people don't understand it also.
12. Encourage and recognize students' contributions. Be alert to nonverbal cues signaled by students who do not participate often, and give them the floor. Be sure to recognize and praise particularly insightful or provocative remarks.
13. One way to increase student participation and encourage good class preparation is to have the students prepare questions as if they were the TA for the next section. Remind them that their questions should be ones that bring out the important themes and ideas in the readings, as well as questions which help tie the readings and lectures together. The following week break them into small groups (for perhaps five minutes) so that each group can chose three or four questions to ask the rest of the section. Then have each group in turn ask a question, until they have run out of questions.
14. You may want to give weekly homework assignments where the students write a brief essay (from one paragraph to one page in length), discussion questions, or a thesis statement answering a particular question. Weekly homework can provide a starting point for discussions in section. Such assignments also allow students to see what you're looking for, and where their writing needs work.
15. Provide a summary or conclusion at the end of each class. By summarizing the main points which have been discussed, you provide the students with a sense of closure and help them remember. This can also be accomplished by having students contribute their conclusions.
1. It is important to keep weekly records of student participation, since your recollection of student activity in the earlier part of the quarter tends to be hazy if you haven't provided yourself with notes. There are several ways of keeping these records. One is to write up your observations on the students right after class, and then use these notes when you determine the section grade. Another is to use a scale of 0 to 3, [where 0= no show, 1=C, 2=B, 3=A] to rate student performance every week.
2. On occasion, you may need to schedule make-up sections for an entire section. In fall quarter, there's a two-day holiday for Thanksgiving that will affect Thursday and Friday sections. In winter quarter, there are two Monday holidays. You may want to have students come to your other sections that are not affected by the days off; you may want to schedule a room through Mike and hold one big make-up section.
Exams and papers:
1. It is imperative that you grade exams and papers anonymously. Fold back the covers of the blue books and don't check names. For papers, insist that students include a title page on their papers, which is the only place their name should appear. Fold back these title pages before you begin reading the paper. This helps you guard against the influence of your personal feelings about individual students.
2. Quickly read about ten or so blue books or papers to get an overall sense of the range of student response. It is useful to make initial comments in pencil, and then go over them in ink. What we expect and what we get are often radically different. Definitely write your initial grades in pencil.
3. Before grading exams, go through your lecture notes and section plans and create a sheet which lists information and examples that the students could reasonably be expected to have at their disposal to answer the questions.
4. When the students have a choice of questions on which to write for either exams or papers, read all of one question at the same time. Then read the next set.
5. On first reading exams, stack broad categories first (A, B, C, D, F). Then return to the piles for more refined judgments, making sure all of the same grade are on a par, and adding plus and minus signs. Expect to move individual exams from pile to pile on re-reading them. Put the final grade on in ink only at the end of the process.
6. Make marginal comments pointing out factual errors, vagueness, awkwardness, or the need for evidence. Always avoid sarcasm, put downs, or insulting remarks. At the end of the essay, summarize the strengths and weaknesses of the exam, so the student will know how to improve.
a) Use ink, not pencil, when marking final grade.
b) Try to provide students with substantial written comments on midterms and papers. Compose a paragraph of commentary, which balances positive and negative comments. Don't be concerned with merely justifying your grade by pointing out what was wrong, but don't overdo praise either. This allows students to learn from their mistakes, as well as to get a better sense of what they were graded on.
c) For papers, be especially vigilant in marking grammatical errors, vague language, or awkward phrasing. Writing requirement courses are supposed to teach students how to write; this will not happen if their mistakes are not pointed out to them.
d) Many TAs write fewer comments on final exams because most students do not return the next quarter to pick up their exams. But you should jot down abbreviated comments to remind yourself of how you evaluated the exam. You can volunteer to write more extensive comments for those who do come by to ask for their exam.
e) Inform your students of the importance of picking up exams and papers, both so students will learn from reading the comments and so that they will accumulate a file of exams and papers that will be useful in the event that the student needs a letter of reference from the instructor in later years.
7. Consider composing your comments on a computer. Comments then may be edited, refined, and reconsidered. Print out these comments and clip them to the exams or papers. You then also have a permanent record of comments you have made for each student.
8. Hand back midterms and papers at the end of section so that students don't spend the class hour brooding about their grade. Encourage students who have questions about the exam to see you in office hours. Ask students to wait at least 24 hours to discuss grades. You might ask them to write a one-page explanation of why they think their work should be reevaluated. Express your willingness to explain what was required in the exam or paper and to help them improve their work. Encourage or require all students who receive a C- or lower on any assignment to meet with you to discuss their grade.
1. When a student is not satisfied with a grade, recheck your own evaluation. It is best to not reread the exam while the student is waiting for you because it is too easy to feel pressured in that situation. After you have discussed the work and its shortcomings together, if the student is still unhappy, ask if you can show it to another TA for his or her opinion; the next stage is for the student to see the faculty member. Students should understand that reevaluation can lead to the lowering of a grade as well as raising it (unless the faculty member has announced otherwise).
2. Recognize that you can make mistakes and be willing to reconsider a grade, but be sure that you stick to the standards you have established for the exam. (Ask yourself, when you change a person's grade, if you are being fair to the other students).
1. Review sessions are more successful if you require student participation, rather than lecturing on "what is important." Orient the session to a discussion of prospective exam questions. Have the students brainstorm possible essay questions and IDs, and then choose a few and have them come up with the "answers." If the answer is incomplete or off-base, step in and steer students toward the correct answer. TAs have a responsibility to their colleagues and students not to disclose the contents of exams unless the faculty member and all TAs have agreed to do so.
2. Review sessions are not required by the department. To hold one, you need to reserve a room through Mike at least two weeks in advance.
Make-up exams should only be allowed for students who were ill during the regularly scheduled exam (it is suggested you ask for a doctor's note), and for students who are registered with the Disabled Students Program as having a learning disability. You or the faculty member need to schedule a room with Mike Tucker a week in advance. Mike will not proctor exams--you or another TA--will need to be present in the room.
1. If you need to schedule appointments outside of your regularly scheduled office hours, be aware that if your appointment conflicts with an office mate's regularly scheduled hours, your office mate has first call on the office.
2. If you are giving an exam or quiz in your office, you should post a sign on the door so that your office mates don't interrupt.
3. Keep all meetings with students academic and professional. Use care when choosing the time and place for student appointments.
4. Be aware that some students do not feel comfortable meeting TAs outside of their offices.
1. Most TAs find it very useful to hand out weekly study questions to help the students identify important ideas in their reading assignments. This requires reading a week ahead in the textbook or course reader.
2. Read student evaluations at the end of the quarter closely and apply what you learn; most students are honest and observant. You may want to write specific evaluation questions on the board for them to answer. This will give you more feedback on, say, the effectiveness of your handouts or study questions.
3. To see the faculty member's evaluation of your performance, ask the faculty member or Darcy. These evaluations usually don't appear in your file until several weeks after the quarter has ended, so time your request to Darcy accordingly.
4. If you have one or two students who dominate the section, solicit responses from "non-talkers." Be alert to nonverbal cues indicating that they have something to say and call on them: "Did you want to say something...?" or "Let's hear from some of you who haven't said anything yet." Do not call on the "talkers" first. Wait to see if someone else raises a hand or volunteers a comment.
5. Check yourself for annoying mannerisms or habits that might distract students: constant fiddling with pencils, chalk, your glasses, your hair; gum chewing; teetering in your chair precariously, etc. Students DO mention these things on course evaluations as major distractions.
6. Do dress appropriately for attending lecture, section, and office hours.
7. Encourage students to get e-mail accounts, and consider holding electronic office hours. This is a quick way to answer questions. For further assistance speak with the members of the TA Orientation Committee.
1. Be sure to have students officially add your section if they are switching sections between TAs. This will ensure that they will receive their grade at the end of the quarter and not get lost in the shuffle. You should assign F grades to all phantom students who appear on your final grade list. Please note that some students who don't appear on your list may be Extension students. Their grades go through the Extension Office (not the Registrar) and have an earlier date.
2. In accordance with departmental policy, each supervising faculty member administers the add/drop process. Consult closely with the faculty member to maintain accurate section lists and to aim for uniformity in section sizes.
1. Honors sections allow the TA and students to cover extra materials for the course. They may also afford both students and TA an opportunity to discuss basic historiographical issues, or interpretative problems with the time period in question. This section meets for two hours each week, instead of fifty minutes, and ideally should contain no more than fifteen students. The students generally read no more than 50 pages of primary or secondary material, in addition to the normal course assignments. Students who enroll in your honors section do NOT have to be in the university's honors program, although if many students express interest, you should limit the section and give priority to the honors program students. The students receive an extra unit for participating in the honors section, and often prepare some sort of extra project or assignment (like an in-class presentation or group project). The honors section counts as two regular sections for the TA, so a half-time TA would teach only one other sections. (A quarter-time TA would teach honors only.)
2. You and the faculty member should agree upon a day and time before the first lecture of the course. In the first lecture, the faculty member will either make a pitch for the honors section, or allow the honors TA to do so. You and the faculty member should discuss beforehand
a) what materials students will read.
b) what sort of student you're aiming the section at (i.e., students in the campus-wide honors program only, history majors only, or any dedicated students) and what you both want the students to get out of section.
c) what sort of extra project (if any) students will undertake.
d) whether/how to use the L&S grant (see #5 below).
3. After the first lecture, meet with the students who want to be in the honors section. Have a sign-up sheet ready, so that each student can make an appointment with you. These appointments will probably take about ten minutes apiece. You may also want to prepare a simple questionnaire, asking for the student's name, major, and interest in the honors section. Students can prepare these in the after-lecture meeting or at the beginning of the appointment--the questionnaire will give you something to discuss.
4. Adding students to the honors section: Students will enroll in a regular discussion section. Once you have decided who will be in honors, you can give these students an enrollment code for the honors section, which signs them up for five credits (one more than the usual four). You can give out these codes in your individual meetings with students, or at the first honors section meeting-students will not be charged if they add the section within the first week of classes. Honors students should NOT stay enrolled in the regular section, as this will cause problems for that section's TA and may lead to bookkeeping problems at the end of the course.
5. The College of Letters and Sciences can provide money (up to $325) for your honors section if there are at least three students from the College Honors Program enrolled in it. The faculty member for the course initiates this procedure, and Lorettta Holt administers it. This grant can cover photocopying costs for the honors section; when you photocopy material for your honors section, you need to use the appropriate copy codes so the department knows to which grant to charge the copying. The money can also be applied to slide or movie purchases. Please keep in mind that the faculty member for the course will make the final decision on how this money is to be spent; you'll need to work with the instructor to get this grant. Usually the deadline for applying for this grant is very early in the quarter.
Be aware of the campus policy on sexual harassment. Recognize that as a TA you are in a powerful position over your students and that behavior which might be acceptable in another context can be coercive given this unequal power relationship. The preamble to this policy is:
Dating students is highly discouraged and may lead to disciplinary action. Even a voluntary and welcome relationship with a student in your class may constitute sexual harassment. Be aware that students who are not currently in your class may be in the future. A romantic relationship with a student over whom you have direct grading authority may have negative consequences that you cannot foresee. Other students may file a claim if they believe they are put at a disadvantage when they hear that a fellow student is dating their teaching assistant.
Copies of the UCSB policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment are available from the Sexual Harassment Complaint Officer, Paula Rudolph, who can be reached at Cheadle Hall 2121, Paula.Rudolph@shot9.ucsb.edu, or at 893-2546. See also http:///www.shot9.ucsb.edu.
The department and the campus are quite serious about enforcement of the policies regarding cheating. The penalties range from failure in the course to suspension from the university to expulsion. Because the faculty member decides in each case whether he/she will personally handle the matter or whether to have the Student-Faculty Committee on Student Conduct handle it, TAs should notify the faculty member regarding all incidents of cheating. All cases should be reported by the faculty member to the Dean of Students so that the student's name will be on file for future reference. For a more complete description of the actual process and university policy, please refer to the brochure which you received at the general orientation; copies are available from the Office of the Dean of Students.
The best policy is to prevent cheating from occurring. Warn students about the harsh penalties in your TA syllabus. All TAs MUST be present at all exam sessions. Proctor carefully. If possible, during large lecture-hall exams have students sit in areas corresponding to their sections, so that you can monitor and recognize your own students. Students should hand their exams directly to their TA. Compose exams and paper assignments that make cheating difficult. Don't repeat questions or paper topics from term to term and year to year. Don't exactly repeat assignments given by other TAs.
The department issues a grade book to each TA. This grade book MUST be turned into the department if you are absent from the department for any length of time, and at the end of your career as a TA. Keep all exam bluebooks for one quarter, and then throw them away. You should detach the cover from each bluebook before discarding it.
Keys to offices are obtained from Darcy. Most offices will house two or three TAs. Due to the scarcity of TA office space, offices will be allocated to History Department TAs first and then, if space is available, the department will try to accommodate history graduate students who are TAs in other departments.
Courtesy towards your office mates is a must in the limited space. Be sure to arrange your office hours so that they don't overlap, since there is not enough space to hold two or three office hours at once. Ideally, your office mates should not be in the office during your office hours, and vice versa, but this is something for all TAs in the office to discuss and agree upon. Be aware that your private conversations with office mates can often be overheard by students waiting in the halls to see other instructors.
There is no dress code in the department for TAs or faculty members. The expectation is that you will dress decently and appropriately.
It is UC policy to prohibit discrimination based on sex, race, age, national origin, or religion. Be aware of your language and your deeds, as well as different cultural norms.
Consider your students' feelings. What is sexist language? What is sexual harassment? What constitutes insensitivity to students' feelings about age, religion, race or gender? Are you unconsciously patronizing or penalizing some students by holding them to a different standard of performance?
G. Learning Disabilities/Disabled Students - http://www.sa.ucsb.edu/dsp/
Disabled students may require alternative modes of examination or assignments. Be aware that there is a department on campus that helps students with learning disabilities and those who are either temporarily or permanently disabled. Students may need to take exams orally, or be provided with more time to take the exam, or have another person act as a scribe for them during exams. The people at the Disabled Student Program either evaluate students themselves or require documentation of a long-standing problem, so be sensitive to the students' needs.
Students must alert you to the fact that they have a learning disability, and they will inform you of the strategies that they have developed with the Disabled Students Program to handle the disability. It is the student's responsibility to inform you of his or her needs BEFORE a scheduled examination. You are required to honor these requests upon written official notification. You may want to include a brief notice in your syllabus that students with disabilities should contact you during your office hours.
If the student doesn't bring you an official notification of a learning disability from the Disabled Student Program, encourage him or her to do so. The program, located in SAASB 1201, can be reached by phone at 893-2668 (V/TDD).