Teaching Assistant Appointment Guidelines
Psychology Teaching Assistant Appointment Guidelines Heading link
Teaching Assistant (TA) Application Procedures:
- The PhD program in Psychology is designed as a 5-year program. There is a mechanism for limited extensions of deadlines to complete required milestones (defend MA, complete preliminary exam, propose & defend dissertation), and the typical degree completion time is 6 years. Incoming students are guaranteed a 50% 9-month TA appointment during their first year at the pay rate contracted by UIC GEO. After the first year, highest preference is given to students in years 2-4 of the program, and lowest priority is given to students who have been in the program for more than 6 years.
- The typical course offerings and their associated TA assignments can be found here. In the semester prior to assignments, students receive a form to specify:
- preferred % appointment
- up to 3 courses the student would prefer to TA
- up to 3 courses the student would prefer to not TA
- any additional comments or suggestions
- The typical TA roles are specified in the Graduate Student Handbook. It is critical that all TAs and course instructors meet before the start of the semester to agree upon TA expectations. TAs provide additional teaching resources for each course to improve undergraduate education. As such, there are no designated ‘non-contact’ TA positions in the Psychology department. All TAs should have the expectation for contact with students, which may be in-person and/or remote, as part of their TA duties. If TAs are expected to create a syllabus, the Psychology department will clearly communicate course goals and provide examples of past syllabi, if applicable.
- For Graduate Assistant (GA) appointments, the Psychology department will communicate, in writing, expectations and/or flexibility regarding scheduling and work site(s) (e.g., on campus/onsite vs. off campus/remote), including considerations for accessibility, if any.
- For summer TA/GA assignments, the Psychology department will communicate in writing the tentative nature of that assignment if minimum enrollment has not yet been met. Summer appointments are only guaranteed after an appointment letter is received and signed.
Factors considered for TA appointments/assignments:
Applicant’s preferences. In advance of each semester, graduate students complete a survey to indicate their preferred % appointment, up to 3 courses that they would prefer to TA, up to 3 that they would prefer to not TA, and any additional information they would like to convey relevant to the assignment.
Scheduling availability/timeframes. Students will not be scheduled to TA courses that conflict with their own class schedule. When there is a conflict, the TA position will be reassigned to not conflict with the students’ course schedule. Once a student accepts a TA assignment, it is the student’s professional obligation to give priority to their TA in the case of a scheduling conflict.
Academic record. Students’ whose quality and timeliness of work are ‘meeting expectations’ will have higher priority for a TA assignment than those whose work is ‘not meeting expectations’. Such evaluation is completed at the end of each academic year by program faculty. Students not in good academic standing will have lowest priority for receiving a TA assignment.
Initial year vs. continuing students. First-year students are guaranteed a 50% 9-month TA appointment with their offer of admission. Continuing students are given priority based on the other factors listed here.
Previous teaching experience for a specific course vs. need for professional development. In assigning TAs, both previous experience and need for professional development are considered for each student. The goal is to balance a variety of assignments with some repetition to provide well-rounded experience with development of expertise over the long-term course of graduate training. First-year students usually TA PSCH 100, with support and guidance during simultaneous enrollment in PSCH 508. As students advance, they typically TA higher-level courses in their major program area of study.
Previous general teaching and professional experience, within or outside the university. TA assignments are considered to be part of graduate training to provide students with exposure to subjects that would support their professional development, to complement the material they learn and are able to teach. Students are not expected to enter the program with such experience.
Weight and relevance of previous job performance as a TA . Students who fail to complete their TA responsibilities – e.g. incomplete grading, lack of expected attendance, lack of communication with students/instructor, unprofessional behavior – will have lowest priority for future TA assignments.
Letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation are not considered when making TA assignments.
Teaching evaluations. The Psychology department does not require instructors to provide routine formal TA evaluations. However, it is recommended that feedback as to whether TA performance meets expectations is included in the formal annual evaluation. Students interested in building a teaching portfolio or becoming an Instructor may participate in the ‘Student Evaluation of Teaching’ program to obtain student evaluations of their performance.
The academic mission of the department. All TAs are expected to provide an inclusive, supportive environment for undergraduate learning.
Students are sometimes given the opportunity to be the Instructor of Record for a course. The following factors are considered when making such appointments:
- Student must have completed the teaching practicum in Psychology (PSCH 587).
- Student is in good academic standing and meeting expectations for quality and timeliness of work.
- Student is in 6th year or earlier (may get higher priority).
- Faculty mentor is supportive of student teaching the course.
- Student has capability to teach specific course.
- Teaching record/evaluations indicate successful performance of teaching activities.