The task of teaching large numbers of students is one which requires the coordinated efforts of many people; the lecturer, the laboratory and discussion instructors, technicians, the students, and several others. As members of this group, the Teaching Assistants should cooperate with the others in the teaching process and in its evaluation, review and improvement. By doing so, they will contribute to their own development as well as to the effective functioning of the Physics program and the University of Minnesota.
As a member of the teaching staff, the Teaching Assistant’s primary responsibility is in helping the School of Physics and Astronomy provide its students with as rewarding and challenging an exposure to physics as possible. This means responsibilities both to the undergraduate enrolled in the TA’s classes and to the other members of the staff with whom he/she works.
An important obligation is the need for the Teaching Assistant to meet his/her laboratory sessions, recitations sections, office hours, proctoring assignments, and instructional team meetings promptly and reliably. If circumstances arise which prevent fulfilling any of these appointments, it is the TA’s responsibility to arrange, either directly or through the Physics Office, for someone to serve in his/her place. The TA must also inform the Physics Office and the faculty member in charge of the class of any replacement arrangements which are made directly by the TA.
To make the interactions with his/her students as effective as possible, the TA is expected to familiarize himself/herself thoroughly with the subject being studied, the laboratory equipment and procedure, and/or the problems assigned for recitation sections. This includes attendance at all meetings of the course team of which the TA is a member. The TA is also expected to participate in all training sessions offered by the School, either before the beginning of classes or while classes are in session. Mentor TAs are here to help you become a better TA. See the mentor TAs if you have questions or concerns.
To help students improve their performance, it is important that material handed in be evaluated carefully and returned promptly. Grades should be determined with care and recorded accurately and by the deadline established by the faculty for the course.
Each laboratory instructor should see that his/her students take reasonable care of the equipment they use, and he/she should endeavor to leave the laboratory facilities in good condition for use by the following class. He/she should report to the laboratory technician equipment which does not function properly. Equipment problem requests can be emailed directly to firstname.lastname@example.org
The preferred method for submitting introductory lab problems/questions is through the labhelp system on every lab computer. There is an icon/link on each desktop that allows problems to be submitted by students and TAs when logged in with their x.500. The lab instructor also can mail directly to email@example.com
Since the general development and improvement of our courses is influenced by the response of the students, the Teaching Assistants are encouraged to be aware of the reaction of the students to the teaching of the course and to share this information with the supervising faculty members and colleagues. To facilitate this exchange of information, Teaching Assistants must attend the periodic meetings of those concerned with each course.