Department of Communication TA Requirements

In AY 2022-23, the Director of Graduate Studies and Graduate Program Committee took on efforts to address support the needs for Teaching Assistants (TAs) hired in the Department of Communication. We hope these requirements and resources are able to reduce stress on graduate students who may be teaching for the first time, give our undergraduate students the best possible learning experience, and provide our course instructors with well-prepared TAs to support them in their teaching.

  • TAs supporting COMM courses must complete the Teaching Assistant Online Orientation by the end of the first week of classes of their first semester TAing for us and provide proof of completion to the Graduate Field Assistant.
  • Course instructors must meet with their TAs and complete the TA duties form. The form's purpose is to lay out expectations for responsibilities and communication. It is important that this be completed by the end of the first week of classes and TAs should be given a copy of the form.
  • TAs assigned to courses with discussion sections will work with CTI to arrange classroom observations midway through the semester.
  • Course instructors and TAs will have the opportunity to provide feedback at the end of the semester. It is optional and encouraged.
  • Policy 1.3: University policy related to all things assistantship. You will find information about appointment dates, the vacation policy, and templates of the letters students receive when they are hired in workday.
  • Workday: This is where TAs can access their appointment letters and paychecks. Appointment letters can be found by clicking your profile in the upper right corner, clicking Personal in the left sidebar, and navigating to the Documents tab. To avoid having to go on a scavenger hunt, it is recommended that you save your letter before you formally acknowledge it in workday.
  • Maps of after-hours department access: If you don't already have after-hours access set up and you need it for your TAship, please contact Joanna.
  • Reserve a room in the department: Need to hold a TA meeting or office hours? We use libcal for reservations. Any reservations for the big conference room or the meeting room in the grad corridor have to be made by a staff member.
  • TA Evaluations: TAs can access their processed course evaluations from students through DUST. Joanna will order TA evaluations for all TAs.
  • Center for Teaching Innovation: CTI provides many opportunities for both students and faculty to improve their teaching skills. Students are encouraged to participate in the Fellows Program.
  • Help and SupportGrievance Procedure, and Workers' Compensation

Best Practices: The Relationship between Instructors and Teaching Assistants

The Department of Communication depends on both its faculty and graduate students to accomplish its undergraduate teaching mission. We view graduate students and faculty as members of a quality team. Instructors and teaching assistants (TAs) are required to complete the TA Expectations Form prior to the start of the course, and TAs must also complete the Center for Teaching Innovation’s Teaching Assistant Online Orientation prior to their first teaching assistantship.

Goals

  • TAs receive valuable experience in both developing and teaching courses for undergraduate students
  • Both instructors and TAs contribute to a quality teaching team that successfully delivers course materials to undergraduate students

Norms

  • The instructor and TAs should share information at the beginning of the appointment to begin the course prepared in their respective duties
  • Team members should hold regular course meetings
  • Instructors should give TAs regular supportive feedback designed to enhance course performance, self-esteem, and professional development
  • TAs should keep instructors informed if mistakes occur or problems arise with students or discussion sections
  • Team members should maintain professional standards of timeliness, preparation, organization, and accessibility to undergraduate students
  • All team members should be open to constructive feedback
  • Instructors will adhere to Policy 1.3 and ensure that assistantship duties average 15 hours a week and never exceed 20 hours per week
  • Team members’ relationships with undergraduate students should be professional at all times, both in class and outside of class
  • As stated in Policy 6.3, under no circumstances may an instructor or TA engage in an intimate, romantic, or sexual relationship with an undergraduate student
  • In cases where TAs are assigned to discussion sections, observation should not be intrusive, the timing of observations should be mutually negotiated, and the resulting feedback should be delivered in a supportive, constructive manner
  • An equal opportunity for learning and access to resources should be created across different sections of the same course

Situations that May Signal a Problem

  • Frequent or regular lecturing by the teaching assistant in the place of the course director
  • Significant work added to the teaching assistant’s load which was not anticipated and discussed in the TA Agreement
  • Criticisms by teaching team members of each other delivered to third persons before they are delivered to team members
  • Criticisms by teaching team members of one another in the presence of undergraduate students
  • Unequal teaching loads for teaching assistants who are similarly situated
  • Unequal access to resources and opportunities for learning given to different undergraduate students in the same course
  • A feeling of fear on the part of any team member to perform or freely communicate in their professional capacity

From the Best Practices section of the PhD Program Manual.