Graduate Teaching Assistantships
Duties of Teaching Assistants
Teaching assistants (TAs) have various duties including paper grading, supervising recitation or lab sections for elementary courses, and teaching elementary courses.
Amount of Time Given for TA Duties
A half-time assistantship obligates you to at most 20 hours of duties per week. Generally, our teaching assistants work 12-15 hours per week on their prescribed duties. The remaining portion of the 20 hours is spent on other activities directly related to your graduate education such as participating in student seminars, departmental seminars, informal discussions, and so on. You are notified of your assigned duties as early as possible.
Types of Courses TAs Teach
First-year TAs are typically assigned to an elementary statistics course. These courses usually contain 60-90 students and meet 3 times a week with the instructor. Some courses also meet once a week in smaller recitation sections of about 30-45 students. The TA is usually responsible for grading homework assignments, preparing solutions, and holding office hours to answer additional questions. In those courses with recitation sections, the TA leads the recitations. TAs should work closely with the instructor to ensure that the course goes smoothly for the students.
Evaluation of TAs
At the end of each semester all the instructors and assistants are evaluated by the students. This feedback can be quite useful in improving your performance. Both the University of Minnesota and the School of Statistics give courses to help prepare new teaching assistants during the week before classes begin each fall. In addition to being good experience, the time spent being a teaching assistant can be an enjoyable part of your graduate career.