To coordinate the advertisement of CUPE designated TA positions, selection and hiring of applicants in cooperation with Biology faculty and according to University procedures; furthermore, to carry out these duties adhering to current departmental policy for allocation of TA positions and managing within a budget envelope set by the Faculty of Science.
Operating Procedures (detailed June through May)
- A list of "new" graduate students is obtained from the Graduate Admissions Officer.
- Send to each "new" grad, an information package which includes an overview of TAing in the department, a list of classes hiring TAs (with computer links to class descriptions), a copy of the GPC's description re Demonstrating, and a TA application form.
- Review and sort TA applications by class.
- Review TA applications with faculty in each class. Faculty member selects from applicants, and conditional offers of employments are made.
- Check on the "arrival" status of incoming grads.
- Annual meeting with Graduate Studies/Payroll in advance of TA hiring (update on hiring procedures).
- Hiring begins, and runs through mid-month. Preparation and troubleshooting of EPIP and GSPIP forms (i.e. "Pay forms") overseen by Donna Megeney, Main Office.
- TA DAY - TA INTRODUCTION AND ORIENTATION SESSION - for all TAs (Usually coincides with the start of classes).
- Troubleshoot mixups associated with first TA bi-weekly pay cheques (ie, no/incorrect pay, etc.).
- Begin hiring for second term. EPIP and GSPIP forms.
- First payday for second term: Troubleshoot cases as in October.
- Review TA financial account statements from Fall term.
- Distribute results of fall term student-based assessments to TAs and class supervisors.
- Distribute TA Evaluation Forms to faculty. Forms should be completed for graduate students completing the TA requirement of their graduate programme.
- Distribute results of winter term student-based assessments to TAs and class supervisors.
- Review TA financial account statements from Winter term.
- Update a year-end spreadsheet summary of the TA expenditures.
- Prepare the TA Annual Report - this includes financial and other matters of report - to be submitted to the department for the Biology Department Annual General meeting in June.
- Call for TA job postings for the upcoming academic year.
The following information of TA policy in your department is from a document that was prepared last year for a Faculty of Science review of the Use of Teaching Assistant Resources across the Faculty. The information contained therein was compiled from existing practices, some longstanding, some relatively new (e.g., Student-based TA assessments):
From: Christine Beauchamp, TA Coordinator, Biology Department
Date: September 23, 2002
Re: Guidelines on the use of Teaching Assistant resources, Biology Department
In the Biology Department, Teaching Assistants are employed extensively in our undergraduate classes.
With relatively high student numbers in the introductory class and core programme classes and acknowledging budget limitations, over the years the department has established policy regarding the use of our TA resources. Established guidelines are used to determine which classes qualify for TA assistance and the number of hours of help per term.
To qualify for TA help, class enrolment must be at least 15, and there must be a demonstrated reasonable need for help with class components such as laboratory offerings, field trips, tutorial/discussion groups, online teaching, and such. There may be exceptions to the enrolment minimum in the case of new class offerings, or when a new person assumes responsibility for an existing class.
Core classes with laboratory components (Biol. 1000, 2001, 2002, 2020, 2030, 2101, 3050, 3070, 3071) generally employ 1-2 TAs per 24 student lab.
In Biology, most TA positions are for 45 hours per term.
Our TAs actively assist in the teaching of classes and are rarely employed solely as markers. Duties vary widely, depending on the particular class. These duties may include:
- conducting lab exercises
- lab demonstrating
- facilitating discussions/tutorials
- conducting field trips
- marking weekly exercises
- marking lab projects, essays, exams
- assisting with online teaching
TA performance may be evaluated in two ways:
The Teaching Assistant Evaluation form is completed by a supervising faculty member. The TA is then invited to review the form, add comments and sign it. The completed evaluation is placed in the TA's personal file. This evaluation is required in the case of graduate students completing the department's TA programme requirement. It is optional in all other cases.
The Student Based Assessment, introduced to the department by the graduate student body, is normally conducted for all Biology TAs. (It works similar to the Student Ratings of Instruction Questionnaire through OIDT, familiar to most faculty). Summarized ratings and written comments are returned to the TA, who may request to have the ratings summary placed in his/her personal file. The supervising faculty member is given a ratings summary only.
The department does not offer any formal teaching preparation to TAs specifically for their teaching-related duties. However, since 1989, our TAs have been attending a day-long orientation programme held in the department at the beginning of the fall term. "TA DAY", as it's known, includes representation from relevant resources and services across campus, safety information and one or more teaching workshops. I t is designed to be of real practical value, and an important show of support for our TAs.