The Instructional Apprentice (IA) and Teaching Assistant (TA) assignment process starts when an online TA Preference Form is posted each term. All grad students eligible for a TA should fill in the form to specify their experience, background and task preference. Then IAs and TAs are assigned according the information collected, except those who are requested for a specific course by the course instructor.
The process is different for new grad students. For their first term they will not be required to fill in the TA Preference Form and will be directly assigned a TA for a first or second year ISG-supported course so that they receive proper training with an ISG.
Why do I need to complete the TA/IA preference form?
By completing the TA/IA Preference Form, our team will better understand your background, experience, skills, and preference for tasks, which we are able to consider when assigning you a course.
Do I need to complete the form every term?
Yes, you need to complete the form every term since your experience and preference might change term by term.
What factors are involved in the selection process? Why didn't I get the course I wanted?
The primary goal of the TA/IA preference form is for the TA assignment team to understand your skill set as well as your preferred tasks. You might indicate your preferred courses, which will be treated as additional information to consider rather than a guarantee.
There are more than 400 graduate students at the School of Computer Science and most are required to TA one or two units a term. With the number of courses that require TAs and the number of graduate students that need to TA, the TA assignment is a complex process to ensure all the courses have sufficient TAs while considering a number of factors. These factors include requests from instructors, your previous TA experience and performance, your academic background, your eligibility, the balance of experienced and new TAs for each course, etc. The goal is to have the TA assignment done in the best interests of all parties.
Am I guaranteed a course that I want if the course instructor has requested me?
No, please see above: "What factors are involved in the selection process? Why I didn’t get the course I wanted?".
Can I still be a TA if I am not eligible for a TA unit, e.g. Master’s coursework students, Master’s research and PhD students that are over their TA eligibility/time limit, etc.?
Coursework students and other non-eligible students are not guaranteed TA units, but may be offered TA units if there happen to be vacancies. For this reason, coursework students and other non-eligible students should complete the TA/IA preference form and if there is a need, then the forms will be reviewed. If you do not submit the form, then you will not be assigned a TA unit in any case.
What should I do if I am not sure about my availability for being a TA next term (e.g. waiting for results of an internship)?
What should I do if I will be away for a certain period during the term?
You are expected to be available to TA from the first day of class until the last day of the term (inclusive). For this reason, you cannot make travel plans for a holiday if your TA duties haven’t been completed yet. For a legitimate absence greater than two days (e.g., conferences), then you must inform your instructor and/or your Instructional Support Coordinator immediately and you will be encouraged to find a replacement for those days.
Can I TA a different course?
In general, reassigning a student to a different course is difficult and rarely accommodated. Please contact Jessica Leung by the "tentative TA assignment deadline" to see whether a swap is possible (late requests to swap after the deadline will not be considered). Swapping courses will depend on what other courses are available and only if you have a legitimate reason.
I was assigned one/two TA units, but I indicated that I wanted more/less TA units. What do I do if I wanted to change the number of TA unit(s) I was assigned?
I was assigned a TA unit, but I no longer want to TA (i.e., I would like to decline my TA units for the term). What do I do?
What is the difference between an IA vs a TA?
IAs' duties include some of the following: marking assignments/coordinating TAs for marking, creating marking schemes and/or solution sets, holding office hours, monitoring newsgroup/Piazza, proctoring/marking exams, assisting in labs, and leading tutorials. TAs' responsibilities are basically marking assignments and marking and proctoring exams.
If you want beneficial experiences in any of the following areas, you should try to obtain an IA position by giving high rankings to your preferred IA duties (see above paragraph) in the TA Preference Form.
- Teaching experience
- Insight into course delivery
- Input into course content
- Opportunity for growth as an instructor
- Plan to be a professor/faculty
Why would I choose to work as an IA instead of as a TA?
Skills developed by working as an IA may include skills in instruction, communication, and organization, to name a few. These are transferable to future employment in a way that marking is not.
If you are interested in teaching in the future, whether upon graduation or as a sessional instructor during your studies, the experience provided by an IA will give you a more accurate and broad view of the skills needed than those used by a TA. As you will work closely with one or more instructors, there is an opportunity to observe different teaching styles. Your experience will give you valuable feedback on whether or not you enjoy this line of work, and will also give us a good way to assess your suitability to work as a sessional instructor in the future.
What are the challenges of working as an IA?
An IA is often given more responsibility than TAs are, and as a consequence plays a more central role in a course. Depending on the specific IA job, it might not be appropriate for you to leave town on workdays during the term. Typically you should be available from the start of term (preferably a few days earlier) through to the completion of the marking and recording of the final exam. You will need to demonstrate organization, punctuality, dependability, and good time management skills in order to meet deadlines and adhere to schedules. Some positions require double TAs, or two people who can work closely together.
May I hold an IA position in addition to a regular TA position?
Students that are eligible for a double-unit might be assigned to do a double IA unit, a double TA or a TA and an IA, depending on what the course needs.
Can I hold an IA even if I have used up all my TA eligibility?
First priority will be given to students who still have eligibility. Based on your previous experience and the current need for IAs, you might be assigned to an IA position if you are beyond your funding. This occurrence is extremely rare.
How can I be considered to be an IA?
To become an IA, an individual will require a strong background in the course. If you are interested in becoming an IA, then complete the TA/IA preference form in full and rank the following categories higher: teaching, office hours, and student interactions. Higher rankings in these categories will inform us that you are interested in the IA position. Be sure to highlight your previous teaching experience. IAs will be selected according your ranking and the skills and experiences you specified in the TA Preference form.
Our Instructional Support Coordinators will make the final decision when assigning IAs. Notification of the offering of an IA job will be made at the same time as TA jobs are announced.