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Graduate Student Teaching Policy

Submitted by nnreimer.local on Fri, 03/28/2014 - 2:33pm

Graduate students at the Schulich School of Engineering have the opportunity to teach undergraduate students in the role of Graduate Assistants (Teaching) or GA(T). Teaching assistants play an important role in supporting instruction, and grading assignments, quizzes and reports. 

Eligibility for a Graduate Assistantship Teaching appointment

Graduate students in the Schulich School of Engineering may be appointed as teaching assistants also known as Graduate Assistantship Teaching (GA(T)) appointment. Priority for appointment to GA(T) is to be given to full-time, thesis-based graduate students.

Graduate students are not guaranteed GA(T) positions and remuneration for doing teaching duties may or may not be part of minimum student support to be provided by supervisor and/or the department.

The head of the department (or delegate), as related to the teaching needs of a department, may assign GA(T) duties to a graduate student but the student's supervisor will be consulted.

Language proficiency and content knowledge qualifications for a GA(T)

Each department is responsible for determining the suitability of each GA(T) candidate for appropriate duties for courses offered by the department. This may take the form of interviewing the graduate students for English language skills (spoken and written) and content knowledge of the course material to which the graduate student may be assigned.

In addition, for common core courses, each department is responsible for determining the suitability of the potential GA(T) nominated for a course. The course coordinator has the opportunity to assess and accept or refuse the nomination. The Associate Dean (Academic and Planning) will be consulted, if necessary.

For each course with a laboratory, the instructor-of-record is responsible for the proper running of the laboratory and knowledge of the subject matter being delivered in the laboratory. It is the instructor's responsibility to ensure work assigned to a GA(T) is done, whether the GA(T) does it or not. Issues and concerns about TA duties or performance are to be referred to the Head by either the instructor or the GA(T).

The department or instructor, according to the teaching unit's system or practices, assigns or chooses a GA(T) for a course. Efforts are to be made to assign a graduate student to a course in the area of the graduate student's research interest and expertise.

GA(T) training policy

All new graduate students who are going to be involved in any way with teaching undergraduate students are required to attend the SSE's training session offered annually in September, before classes start for the Fall term. For graduate students who must arrive late on campus, another session may be conducted, either during the fall term or at the start of the Winter term. The training session will include an orientation about the Schulich School of Engineering and expectations on duties assigned to teaching assistants.

All continuing graduate students with prior GA(T) experience are required to attend a SSE training session annually in August – as long as students continue to be eligible for a GA(T) assignment.  Eligibility is determined by student’s home department.  Content of the training session will change annually. Often this workshop focuses on best teaching practices and teaching duties that involve interaction with undergraduate engineering students, such as running laboratories, conducting tutorials and office hours, or facilitating active learning exercises. Critical incidents and case studies are also discussed.

Many advanced graduate students excel at TA duties. These students, normally a senior PhD student with an interest in a future academic career, may be nominated by a department for specialized training. This would take place over a Spring/Summer month or during a semester, after which they may be assigned a course to teach as the instructor-of-record. The appointment may involve a Faculty of Graduate Studies Teaching Fellowship in addition to a sessional instructorship. A mentor shall be appointed by the Department Head, in consultation with the GA(T)'s supervisor, to monitor the progress of such a new instructor.

Failure to attend the training/workshop sessions offered by the SSE, without prior agreement with the Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning), will result in a graduate student being denied a GA(T) position.

GA(T) training registration

2015 training schedule

Workshop for First-Time TAs
This training session is required for new graduate students, students who have not held a prior GA(T) assignment, or haven’t taken a training session before. Students only need to take this session ONCE.

September 3, 2015
8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
ST 135

Register

GA(T) duties and responsibilities

Departments are to be fair, equitable and consistent in terms of work load and demands on the GA(T)s. In assigning GA(T)s, the size of the class and the work load should be factors. The course instructor is required to prepare the GA(T) adequately for his or her duties.

Some instructors (particularly sessionals) often ask for more time and effort than what is fair of GA(T)s. Examples are setting problems for quizzes, assignments and major examinations; copying extensive notes and papers for classes; and being requested, in place of the absent instructor, to conduct office hours or extra tutorials for students. This is unacceptable.

The offer to do TA duties is to be made in writing and the graduate student, the head of the department (or designate) and the course instructor (or the supervisor) will sign the document. The instructor shall have the right to refuse a GA(T) on the basis of competency.

GA(T)s who do not perform or fulfill the reasonable expectations placed on them will be penalized by termination of the appointment or by not renewing the teaching offer. The need for termination of appointment is to be determined by the instructor and the department head.

Graduate students who have performed poorly will not be assigned additional teaching duties until they have shown improvements through special training sessions. The decision about whether a graduate student can resume GA(T) duties is made by the head of the department and reinstatement must be consistent with the eligibility criteria in part (b) above.

The GA(T) is to behave professionally and avoid emotional involvement with the students in his or her class.

GA(T) reference materials

Details
Graduate Collective Agreement Download
Graduate Teaching Assistantships (Teaching and Non-Teaching) View
GA(T) Frequently Asked Questions Download

Evaluation of GA(T) performance

The course coordinator or instructor is responsible for evaluating the GA(T)'s performance for the course. The instructor's role is both that of a mentor and an employer. Evaluations may include components from either the instructor or the undergraduate students, or both.

A review of the GA(T)'s performance is to be conducted towards the end of each term. Both the GA(T) and instructor are to discuss the review results and sign the summary. The signed summary (on a form) is to be submitted to the TA's department. The fact that the student signs the form does not signify agreement with the assessment, only that it has been discussed.

GA(T)s who have performed in exemplary ways will be publicly recognized through awards.

Eligibility for a Graduate Assistantship Teaching appointment

Graduate students in the Schulich School of Engineering may be appointed as teaching assistants also known as Graduate Assistantship Teaching (GA(T)) appointment. Priority for appointment to GA(T) is to be given to full-time, thesis-based graduate students.

Graduate students are not guaranteed GA(T) positions and remuneration for doing teaching duties may or may not be part of minimum student support to be provided by supervisor and/or the department.

The head of the department (or delegate), as related to the teaching needs of a department, may assign GA(T) duties to a graduate student but the student's supervisor will be consulted.

Language proficiency and content knowledge qualifications for a GA(T)

Each department is responsible for determining the suitability of each GA(T) candidate for appropriate duties for courses offered by the department. This may take the form of interviewing the graduate students for English language skills (spoken and written) and content knowledge of the course material to which the graduate student may be assigned.

In addition, for common core courses, each department is responsible for determining the suitability of the potential GA(T) nominated for a course. The course coordinator has the opportunity to assess and accept or refuse the nomination. The Associate Dean (Academic and Planning) will be consulted, if necessary.

For each course with a laboratory, the instructor-of-record is responsible for the proper running of the laboratory and knowledge of the subject matter being delivered in the laboratory. It is the instructor's responsibility to ensure work assigned to a GA(T) is done, whether the GA(T) does it or not. Issues and concerns about TA duties or performance are to be referred to the Head by either the instructor or the GA(T).

The department or instructor, according to the teaching unit's system or practices, assigns or chooses a GA(T) for a course. Efforts are to be made to assign a graduate student to a course in the area of the graduate student's research interest and expertise.

GA(T) training policy

All new graduate students who are going to be involved in any way with teaching undergraduate students are required to attend the SSE's training session offered annually in September, before classes start for the Fall term. For graduate students who must arrive late on campus, another session may be conducted, either during the fall term or at the start of the Winter term. The training session will include an orientation about the Schulich School of Engineering and expectations on duties assigned to teaching assistants.

All continuing graduate students with prior GA(T) experience are required to attend a SSE training session annually in August – as long as students continue to be eligible for a GA(T) assignment.  Eligibility is determined by student’s home department.  Content of the training session will change annually. Often this workshop focuses on best teaching practices and teaching duties that involve interaction with undergraduate engineering students, such as running laboratories, conducting tutorials and office hours, or facilitating active learning exercises. Critical incidents and case studies are also discussed.

Many advanced graduate students excel at TA duties. These students, normally a senior PhD student with an interest in a future academic career, may be nominated by a department for specialized training. This would take place over a Spring/Summer month or during a semester, after which they may be assigned a course to teach as the instructor-of-record. The appointment may involve a Faculty of Graduate Studies Teaching Fellowship in addition to a sessional instructorship. A mentor shall be appointed by the Department Head, in consultation with the GA(T)'s supervisor, to monitor the progress of such a new instructor.

Failure to attend the training/workshop sessions offered by the SSE, without prior agreement with the Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning), will result in a graduate student being denied a GA(T) position.

GA(T) training registration

2015 training schedule

Workshop for First-Time TAs
This training session is required for new graduate students, students who have not held a prior GA(T) assignment, or haven’t taken a training session before. Students only need to take this session ONCE.

September 3, 2015
8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
ST 135

Register

GA(T) duties and responsibilities

Departments are to be fair, equitable and consistent in terms of work load and demands on the GA(T)s. In assigning GA(T)s, the size of the class and the work load should be factors. The course instructor is required to prepare the GA(T) adequately for his or her duties.

Some instructors (particularly sessionals) often ask for more time and effort than what is fair of GA(T)s. Examples are setting problems for quizzes, assignments and major examinations; copying extensive notes and papers for classes; and being requested, in place of the absent instructor, to conduct office hours or extra tutorials for students. This is unacceptable.

The offer to do TA duties is to be made in writing and the graduate student, the head of the department (or designate) and the course instructor (or the supervisor) will sign the document. The instructor shall have the right to refuse a GA(T) on the basis of competency.

GA(T)s who do not perform or fulfill the reasonable expectations placed on them will be penalized by termination of the appointment or by not renewing the teaching offer. The need for termination of appointment is to be determined by the instructor and the department head.

Graduate students who have performed poorly will not be assigned additional teaching duties until they have shown improvements through special training sessions. The decision about whether a graduate student can resume GA(T) duties is made by the head of the department and reinstatement must be consistent with the eligibility criteria in part (b) above.

The GA(T) is to behave professionally and avoid emotional involvement with the students in his or her class.

GA(T) reference materials
Details
Graduate Collective Agreement Download
Graduate Teaching Assistantships (Teaching and Non-Teaching) View
GA(T) Frequently Asked Questions Download
Evaluation of GA(T) performance

The course coordinator or instructor is responsible for evaluating the GA(T)'s performance for the course. The instructor's role is both that of a mentor and an employer. Evaluations may include components from either the instructor or the undergraduate students, or both.

A review of the GA(T)'s performance is to be conducted towards the end of each term. Both the GA(T) and instructor are to discuss the review results and sign the summary. The signed summary (on a form) is to be submitted to the TA's department. The fact that the student signs the form does not signify agreement with the assessment, only that it has been discussed.

GA(T)s who have performed in exemplary ways will be publicly recognized through awards.