General Policies Regarding Teaching Assistants *

The Teaching Assistant: A teaching assistant is a registered graduate student in full-time residence, chosen for good scholarship and promise as a teacher, and serving an apprenticeship under the supervision of a faculty member and the Supervisor of Technical Labs.

Workload: Teaching Assistant workloads are intended to allow TAs to fulfill their academic obligations. TAs employed half-time (.50 FTE) are expected to devote 15 - 20 hours per week to TA duties during instructional and examination periods. These hours include all time spent in preparation (including the weekly meeting which previews the upcoming lab), classroom and laboratory teaching, office consultation, and grading student papers. Incidentally, since a half-time appointment for a TA is normally maximum, a 50% TA is frequently called a full-time TA (as contrasted to a half-time TA with a 25% appointment).

Duties:A teaching assistant is responsible for the conduct of discussion and/or laboratory sections, and for being on time and present for the full scheduled period. The student will be under the supervision of a faculty member to whom final responsibility for the course's entire instruction, including the performance of his [or her] teaching assistants, has been assigned. Students should consult with this faculty member about grading policies at the beginning of each semester.

Students are expected to grade promptly and critically student papers such that students receive constructive feedback. GTAs should keep good records of lab grades for each student and be able to give these to the supervising faculty member upon request.

A teaching assistant is not responsible for the instructional content of a course, for selection of student assignments, for planning of examinations, or for determining the term grade for students.

Supervision and Review: The selection, supervision and training of all student teachers is an important responsibility of the teaching department. All candidates for appointment and re-appointment will be subjected to an annual review based on student evaluations and faculty input. Satisfactory progress toward degree will also be part of the review. Failure to conduct your duties in a satisifactory manner may be grounds for the termination of a teaching assistant's contract.

* These policies are based on Ronkowski, S.A., Lorsch, N., Geiger, E. and Morrison, J. TAs As Teachers: A Handbook for Teaching Assistants at UCSB. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California, 1995.

Sample TA Work Load

Average Time/Week During the 16-week Semester

Often, TAs want to know about how much time they should be spending on different duties. Your average weekly load during the 16 weeks of class for a 50% appointment should be approximately that listed below.

Contact with Students:

1 Discussion Section 1.0 hrs

2 Laboratory Sections 4.0 hrs

Office Hours 3.0 hrs

Total: 8.0 hrs


(Teams will decide how to structure this between team meetings and individual prep.)

Laboratory 1.0 hrs

Discussion 2.0 hrs

Weekly Lab-Preview Meeting 1.0 hrs

Total: 4.0 hrs

Grading and Entering Grades:

Labs 4.0 hrs

Homework 1.0 hrs (average)

Tests 1.0 hrs (average)

Total: 6.0 hrs

Attending Colloquia and Journal Clubs:

Total: 1.0 hrs

Proctoring Tests:

Total: 1.0 hrs (average)

TOTAL 20.0 hrs per week**

** The University does not recognize the time between semesters as holidays. Although the Physics Department typically does not assign TA duties after final exam grades are recorded, this time must be counted to compute your actual average hours worked per week.