Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Checklist: Issues to Clarify with TAs Up Front

What are the main course goals?

Are some of these goals more important than others for the work your TAs will do with students?

What will your TAs’ responsibilities be?

A more complete list of possible responsibilities is available on request from the Center for Teaching.

attending lectures

attending weekly TA meetings

drafting or revising grading keys

providing written feedback (individual comments, detailed solution sets)

reporting on common student errors or difficulties

preparing quizzes, handouts, assignments, exam questions

holding regular office hours

conducting review sessions before exams

giving guest lectures (as needed or as a learning experience)

maintaining grade records

giving a percentage of the final grade based on activities in section meetings

recording attendance

proctoring exams

maintaining on-line resources for students

What do you expect the students to know or be able to do from prior courses?

If you expect wide variation in students' backgrounds, is there anything specific your TAs should do in response (e.g. offer tutoring, conduct review sessions, find extra "challenge" problems)?

How much will your TAs interact with students?

Will students be expected to attend section meetings, participate actively in recitation/discussion, seek help with assignments out of class, or attend help sessions? If section meetings are optional, how can students be encouraged to attend?

How often will TAs meet with you to discuss the course?

If there are multiple TAs, will you meet to discuss how to coordinate activities?

How many hours, on average, should your TAs expect to devote to this course?

How much will that fluctuate over the semester? Do you have any suggestions about how your TAs can be most efficient?

What are the criteria for grading in this course and how can TAs be sure their grading is calibrated properly to your standards?

For example, how is partial credit awarded? To what extent is collaboration allowed or encouraged? How will the final grades be determined?

About what policies, if any, do your TAs have authority to make decisions and for what issues do you want them to refer questions to you?

requests for regrading

granting an extension

accepting late assignments

giving a make-up quiz

responding to suspected cheating or plagiarism

helping a student find additional assistance for personal or academic problems

How much flexibility do TAs have in how they fulfill their responsibilities?

What aspects of their teaching are important to maintain consistency across sections or to fulfill specific course objectives?

In what ways will TA work be evaluated?

Will they receive feedback from you and/or students about their performance?

faculty review of graded exams or papers

classroom visits and feedback

videotaping and review

early or midterm course evaluations

end-of-course student evaluations via Faculty Course Evaluations (FCEs)

end-of-course student evaluations specific to TA responsibilities