Roles of a Teaching Assistant
Resources on specific TA roles, including: marking-only TAs, TAs who often instruct labs, TAs who facilitate tutorials and discussion groups, and TAs for online courses. Marking strategies, proctoring exams and online TAing are also addressed.
- 5 Conversations to Have with Your Course Instructor Before the Beginning of the Semester (pdf)
- Duties Specification Letter (pdf)
- PSAC Local 610, Western University TAs and Postdocs Union
Specific roles of the Teaching Assistant
Marking: A survey of Western University TAs revealed that 100% of TAs will mark at some point in their university careers. Marking can be daunting but preparation and endurance can get you through
- Award winning Western TAs offer some advice for marking:
- Western Guidelines Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
- Writing Resources:
Marking-only TAs: Marking-only TAs do not have any duties besides marking tests and assignments. These types of TAships are most common for the large introductory courses. TAs may or may not hold office hours. Here are some words of advice from previous marking-only TAs (video LINK)
Lab TAs: TAing a laboratory course whether in the sciences, engineering, mathematics, computer sciences or even social sciences can be a challenging and rewarding teaching experience. Lab TAs primary responsibilities are in laboratories, providing pre-lab talks and assisting students in-lab with experiments or assignments.
- University of Michigan has a great link to help you get set up and started as a lab TA
- From the TA handbook: asking questions in lab
- Award-winning TAs offer insight into lab prep and management:
TAs with Tutorials/Leading Discussions: As a TA in any number of faculties you may find yourself in the role of a tutorial or discussion facilitator. Tutorials are often assignment driven and are an opportunity for students to ask questions and attempt problems they were not able to in larger lecture sections. Discussion classes are usually associated with arts and humanities, social sciences and education lecture courses with heavy reading. Discussion classes are also an opportunity for students to ask questions and discuss both about lecture topics and course readings.
- The University of Michigan offers an excellent summary page for teaching with discussions
- While Oxford specific, this is a fantastic resource for leading tutorials, including typical content and goals of tutorials as well as tips
- While not specific for TAs, this resource page provides some great tips for online and distance course teaching:
Expanding your role and getting feedback:
- Give a guest lecture: Ask the course instructor if you can give a “guest” lecture for the course. This may lead to further opportunities to give a lecture the next year its offered, even if you aren’t TAing
- Ask if you can contribute test questions or assignment ideas Ask the course instructor to sit in and give feedback
- Join the mentor program