Please view “TA duties and expectations” first to understand their duties and what you can expect on them.
The following are some facts you should be aware of, tips from ISG for supervising TAs, guidelines for TA performance management and evaluation, and information about TA grievance.
Facts to be aware of
- A single TA unit is an average five hours’ work per week for the term, giving a total of 80 hours
- TA duties are assigned to students as a means of providing monetary support; there is no “application” process
- Graduate students often take courses with their own assignments and projects
- Many grad students have families
- TA duties are not the students’ only commitment
- TA duties are not necessarily the highest priority
Tips for TA management
- Communicate all expectations clearly and regularly.
- Give lots of warning about marking meetings and deadlines, proctoring dates. Generally speaking meetings on weekends or statutory holidays should not be expected. If you have to do so you will need everyone’s consent in advance.
- Send email reminders about meetings, exam proctoring or marking.
- Set consistent and reasonable deadlines for returning marked papers.
- Provide, if possible, a schedule at the beginning of the term that shows how the 80 hours of work will be spread over the term, for example to fill in the TA Time Allocation Form.
- Keep notes of work done by the TAs so that you can contribute to the evaluations for the TAs at the end of the term.
- Encourage TAs to communicate any problems with the marking scheme to you as soon as possible so that any clarifications can be passed on to everyone.
- Solicit individual feedback from TAs especially those who don’t ask questions.
- Keep in mind that TAs are graduate students whose first priority is their graduate work.
TA performance management and evaluation
Online TA evaluation forms are available for Instructors and ISCs near the end of the term in Odyssey. In the evaluation TAs are rated by the following categories: Industrious, Reliability & Responsibility, Ability to Assist Students, Preparation (before labs, etc), Knowledge of Material, Punctuality, and English Language Proficiency. It’s recommended that you keep notes of work done by the TAs so that you can contribute to the evaluations for the TAs at the end of the term.
However TA performance management is more than filling out a TA evaluation form. Effective TA performance management will need to promote ongoing communications with your TAs. For example, to provide along-the-way feedback during the term to let them know what they did well and what need to be improved. Especially if you feel a TA didn’t meet your expectations, you should contact the TA as soon as possible to discuss the situation and provide constructive feedback. Please remember that the relationship between a TA and their instructor is based on collegiality and mutual respect.
In-person communications of TA evaluations are required by the school when the outcomes have potentially negative impacts on students such as an unsatisfactory rating to be delivered to them.
In some special situations where you feel it’s necessary to get school management involved, you should always communicate with your TA first before you contact school management. The initial stages of performance improvement focus on identifying the underlying causes of poor performance and working together to develop a plan to bring performance in line with expectations. In most cases when the TA and the Instructor/Instructional Support Coordinator (ISC) work together, performance is successfully corrected. In situations where there is no, or insufficient improvement in performance, the instructor/ISC should report the situation to Director of Graduate Studies . The Director of Graduate Studies will decide if any discipline actions will need to be taken, which may include a formal warning and/or cancellation of TAship.
TAs are encouraged to communicate with the course instructor/ISC when a question arises about a decision or action affecting them. If they are not satisfied with the result, they may seek a resolution by following procedures described in Policy 30 "Employment of Graduate Student Teaching Assistants", in particular "Graduate Studies Calendar guidelines on Resolution of Disputes between TAs and Instructors".