Teaching Assistantship Guidelines
Teaching assistantships provide students with educational and professional benefits, enhancing their pedagogical skills. Departments and faculty members certainly benefit from the services provided by teaching assistants. However, the rationale for supporting teaching assistants is centered on the role the experience plays in their professional and educational development. Students holding assistantships devote their time to a combined program of study and instructional activities. The stipend received by teaching assistants is in recognition of their service to the university.
The following include best practices for department who have teaching assistants:
Teaching assistants support departmental instructional activities. Depending on the student’s experience and departmental needs, typical assistantship duties include:
- Teaching classes as teachers of record
- Grading course assignments
- Holding office hours
- Working with students in a laboratory class
- Leading discussion groups
- Proctoring examinations
- Teaching an occasional class
- Preparing instructional material
All of these activities occur under the guidance of a mentor, either the course instructor or, in the case of teachers of record, an assigned mentor. The mentoring structure supports the pedagogical component of the teaching assistantship experience.
Assistantship duties should average between 15 and 20 hours per week. Given the instructional rhythm of a semester, there will be some variation in the actual number of hours spent on assistantship activities per week. Faculty supervising assistants should develop a general plan of action with their assistants to plot out and monitor the number of hours spent over the course of the semester.
Department Pedagogical Instruction
The Graduate School expects all departments to provide assistants with teaching instruction. This may occur in a formal course (with a course number) or in an intensive or year-long seminar that is noted on each student’s transcript as a milestone.
Each teaching assistant should be evaluated in writing at the conclusion of each semester. This evaluation should be based on the observation of the TA in action. The evaluation should be shared with the TA and placed in the student’s departmental file.
All teaching assistants with native languages other than American English are required to take an English Proficiency test on campus during the week before school begins. Based on the results of this test, teaching assistants may be required to take one or two ESL courses during their first semester at Loyola. This requirement is designed to insure the ability of teaching assistants to communicate effectively in spoken and written English.
Assistants are required to keep a minimum 3.0 GPA (each semester as well as cumulatively), make progress toward their degree, and perform assistantship duties in an acceptable manner.
- Maintaining academic standing, per Graduate School or departmental academic requirements, is mandatory and failure to do so will result in the termination of an assistantship. Departments may have higher minimum GPA requirements for their assistants and, if so, these requirements trump the minimum GPA requirement of the Graduate School.
- Should an assistant’s duty performance be deemed unacceptable by the department, the Graduate Program Director should inform the student in writing that his/her performance is unsatisfactory. The letter should include information about the deficiencies and a remediation plan of action. Additionally, the letter should include a date for re-evaluation. If the student fails to improve his or her performance, the assistantship will be withdrawn.
- In very specific instances, such as violations of university policies, academic dishonesty, or violations of ethical or professional code of conduct, the assistant may have his or her duties suspended immediately and a departmental recommendation of termination to the Graduate School is in order. Termination appeals, just as all other grievances, should first be made at the departmental level before moving to the Graduate School.
- The stipend will be stopped at the date of the termination.
Departments depend on the services of teaching assistants for the period of appointment. If the assistant must resign his or her position during the course of the academic year, the assistant must follow the following steps:
- Discuss the intent to resign with the Graduate Program Director well in advance of the actual resignation so that the department can make appropriate plans to replace the assistant.
- Submit a formal letter explaining the reason(s) for and date of the resignation. A copy of this letter should be sent to the Graduate School.
- Return of any keys and instructional material to the department.
The assistant’s stipend will be ended upon receipt of the letter of resignation.