Teaching assistantships offer graduate students the chance to support the learning of undergraduates while building skills that will support them in their own academic careers.
ExpecTAtions teaching assistant workshop
The starting point for anyone wishing to serve as a Waterloo Engineering teaching assistant (TA), ExpecTAtions is a mandatory workshop currently offered near the end of the fall and winter terms. Students who attend and successfully complete all required components receive a certificate noting their achievement.
During the workshop, participants work in small, discipline-specific groups led by two mentors: one faculty member and one student with TA experience. These faculty and student mentors help prepare participants for the TA role by sharing their own experiences and perspectives. The workshop also includes an online component. Through this combination of small-group and online activities, participants learn about the roles and responsibilities of TAs, practise giving lessons and marking student work, and examine the working relationships between TAs, professors and students.
Completion of ExpecTAtions is required for anyone wishing to serve as a teaching assistant in the Faculty of Engineering.
Students will be invited to register for the April 2021 offering of ExpecTAtions by their department contact:
- Chemical Engineering: Colleen Mechler
- Civil and Environmental Engineering: Victoria Tolton
- Electrical and Computer Engineering: Erin Hubbert
- Management Sciences: Erin Ackersviller
- Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering: Tanya Yoworski
- Systems Design Engineering: Jeanette Friend
Due to the current suspension of on-campus events, we are planning to deliver the April 2021 offering of ExpecTAtions virtually. Registered participants will be informed in advance of this process.
Roles and Responsibilities
In addition to supporting student learning, teaching assistants (TAs) also fill two important roles: ambassador for the institution, faculty, department, and program; and front-line observer. Select a topic below for details about these roles and the basic standards Waterloo Engineering holds for TAs.
Model ethical behaviour
Each TA is expected to promote and support a culture that includes the following:
- equality and respect for individual differences
- freedom from harassment and discrimination
- equal treatment and access to services for all members
- the honest and ethical pursuit of knowledge
- freedom from interference
- the principled use of authority
For more information about these concepts, visit Policy 33: Ethical behaviour and the Office of Conflict Management & Human Rights Guidelines for Teaching Assistants.
Preserve academic integrity
TAs are expected to act as role models of academic integrity. As a front-line observer, any teaching assistant who has reason to believe that an academic offence has been committed must report it to both the course instructor and the appropriate associate dean. TAs are not expected to investigate or adjudicate academic offences.
The resources listed below are a good starting point for TAs looking for more information about academic integrity.
Protect student privacy
As UWaterloo employees, TAs are responsible for the security and confidentiality of any student information they may obtain while serving as a TA. Policy 46 defines student information as information related to a student’s academic record, including biographical and personal information, digitized student identification photographs, whether in hard copy, electronic or some other form.
For more information about these concepts, visit Policy 46: Information Management.
Maintain a safe environment
TAs are expected to both model the behaviours and support the values that promote a safe work environment. TAs are considered “workers” under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Policy 34 outlines the rights and responsibilities of UWaterloo’s workers and supervisors in protecting the health and safety of both themselves and other members of the UWaterloo community.
As UWaterloo employees, TAs are required to complete the following online training components in addition to those completed as part of the ExpecTAtions workshop: