Teaching Assistant Faculty
List of TAs
Evelyn Arhin-Sam\ Michael Brasher
The following are official policies of the College of Arts and Science regarding teaching assistants.
- TA allocation must be directed to the department's undergraduate teaching efforts, in particular at the lower-division level.
- TAs must have at least 18 graduate credit hours in the discipline before being assigned as instructors of record.
- Assistantships are limited to a total of two years.
The following are official policies of the Department of Religious Studies regarding teaching assistants.
- Teaching assistants may be assigned to a faculty member for a full year or for a semester. Faculty members requesting teaching assistants should notify the graduate program director (GPD) at least one month before the end of the prior semester, specifying the semester(s) requested. The GPD will assign assistants in consultant with supervising faculty.
- Teaching assistants must turn in an informal, but detailed, report of their activities at the end of each semester.
- Supervising faculty must turn in an informal, but detailed, evaluation of the T.A. being supervised at the end of each semester, highlighting accomplishments, suggesting areas for improvement, and recommending whether the T.A. should be retained or not.
Responsibilities of TAs in the College of Arts and Sciences
- Work 20 hours per week
- Assist faculty member in lower-division faculty course (Religious Analysis)
- Grade and evaluate student work
- Hold regular office hours
- Teach individual classes as assigned
- Take REL 6940, Teaching Religious Studies
- Take Academy for the Art of Teaching summer workshop
- Continue as in first year (faculty assignments may differ.)
- If assigned, serve as instructor of record for a section of Religious Analysis, after earning at least 18 credits.
Types of Assistantships
Graduate assistantships come in two different flavors: Teaching Assistantships are allocated to the department by the College of Arts and Sciences. They generally include tuition waivers and a $4000 stipend each semester. They are not available in the summer. Various conditions attach to them, such as the requirement that T.A.s hold no outside employment, or that they must take at least 10 credits each fall and spring, and at least 3 credits in the summer.
Graduate Assistantships are funded from other sources, including other administrative areas of the university (such as Undergraduate Studies) and the department's own endowment funds. The conditions of employment of grad students for G.A.s are set by the granting unit. Thus, for those G.A.s we sponsor independently as a department, we can set the remuneration and other requirements.
A number of criteria are used to allocate teaching assistantships to student applicants. These include, in no particular order, the following:
A graduate assistantship has a three-fold purpose:
- financial aid for the student
- the training of teachers
- useful assistance for faculty members
It is thus both an award and a job. The criteria for allocating assistantships are many and complex. In no particular order, they include
- financial need
- teaching potential
- administrative skills
- writing skills
- overall academic achievement
- year in the program
- personal qualities (cooperation, reliability, enthusiasm, interest, and so on)
- availability of various other forms of financial assistance
- quality of the applicant pool
- status of the applicant (must be a matriculated, full-time student)
Generally speaking, we do not give assistantships to incoming first-year students (though this is the norm in many departments, where assistantships are used primarily as recruiting tools.) To date, we have found that students who have been in the program at least a semester are better prepared to help faculty members with courses and are clearer about their goals and needs. By the same token, students who have reached the thesis stage may find it no longer practical to take the minimum 10 credits each semester or to enroll in the required pedagogy courses.
Financial need, while clearly not the only criterion, is important; other factors being equal, a needy student would be given priority over one who had just won the lottery. We make every effort to secure some form of income for students who need assistance to attend classes, or to become full-time students. We have no where near enough assistantships to satisfy student need, but we do often have leads on GAs elsewhere in the university, on full or part-time jobs in related programs, and on faculty research projects for which students are being hired. We work directly with each student to maximize their educational possibilities.
Students with strong teaching skills, potential, and interest will generally be given priority, with the goal of preparing them to teach sections of Religious Analysis on their own. It is likely that a new TA will be assigned to assist a faculty member with this course for a semester or two; after taking the appropriate pedagogical training, highly competent and promising TAs may then be selected to teach.
Preference will be given to those already awarded an assistantship, usually for up to two years, assuming the TA is performing satisfactorily, for up to two years (though this may be extended for TAs teaching as instructors of record).
The selection process is an art, not a science, in which we try to balance the needs of our students with the needs of the department.
Teacher Training Programs
Center for the Advancement of Teaching:
All the Academy's programs are highly recommended for those considering teaching careers. The summer workshop is required for TAs.
- The TA Certificate Program is open to all students, free, and can be completed without any time limit. This is an excellent CV bullet.
- The Introduction to Teaching Workshop is offered for two days in August. It is open to all TAs and Certificate candidates. This year, it will be held August 24-25. REL credit available
- The TA Forum provides 8 workshops centered on pedagogical issues throughout the year. TAs and Certificate candidates enroll for those that interest them. REL credit available
CONTACT the Center for the Advancement of Teaching for more information and to sign up:
Religious Studies Department
The department offers several opportunities for enhancing teaching skills and preparing to teach Religious Studies.
REL 6940, Teaching Religious Studies, is required for all TAs.
- REL 6940, Teaching Religious Studies. Designing an introductory course—syllabus, resources, texts. Developing a pedagogical style. Career considerations. 3 cr.
- Pedagogy Workshop. 1 credit for attending TA workshop in summer.
- Teaching Internship. Opportunity to be a TA for credit (3) rather than money. Work with faculty member teaching, grading, and developing a section of REL 2011.
- Teaching Forum. 1 credit in spring semester for participating in at least 6 AAT forums during the school year.
Course numbers for the last three courses are being assigned. Check with department secretary before registering (firstname.lastname@example.org).