Teaching Assistantship

As a Teaching Assistant (TA), you are an important and integral part of teaching and learning in the Faculty of Engineering. 

TAs support our faculty to improve the quality of our teaching and generate an enriched learning experience for our undergraduate and graduate students. The teaching assistantship is also an opportunity to develop skills that will support your subsequent academic and professional careers. 

This webpage contains information on: 

Requirements for Teaching Assistants in Mechanical and Mechatronics 

There are several requirements that must be met by a student to qualify for employment as a teaching assistant: 

  • It is a requirement of the Faculty of Engineering that only those students who have successfully completed the workshop, ExpecTAtions, are eligible to hold a TA. 
  • Teaching assistants must be a registered full-time student. 
  • Teaching assistants must be fully available for their assigned course: 
    • TA must be available during times scheduled for the course's lectures, tutorial and labs.    
    • Teaching assistants are required to proctor mid-term and final exams. 
    • As a TA, you must be available from the first day of the first month of the term until the last day of the last month of the term. Note that the end of the term extends past final exams. You may not leave early for vacation at the end of the term without permission of the instructor.
  • International students must have a valid study permit.  You must ensure that the study permit has not expired or will not expire during the period of the teaching assistantship.  Please see GSPA's update your immigration status website for more information regarding renewal of study permits or immigration status changes. 

If you are a new student and are considering becoming a TA we suggest waiting to your second or third term rather than in your first term when you are adjusting to the academic workload of graduate level courses. In addition, you are required to complete mandatory safety training course and ExpecTAtions that is offered once a term.   

TA Time Commitments

As a teaching assistant, you would be required to be available during the following timelines:  

Application Period
TA required time commitment - 130 / hours (one full)
Winter November January 1st - April 30th 
Spring March May 1st - August 30th 
Fall July September 1st - December 30th 

Your exact duties will be assigned to you by the faculty member instructing the course. They may include marking and delivering tutorials or labs for undergraduate or graduate courses. It is expected that your responsibilities and preparation for these duties would require the expected workload for a full (1.0) TA position is 130 hours, per term (13 weeks), 97 hours per term for 0.75 TA and 65 hours per term for 0.50 TA. Make sure your available for this commitment. 

TA Application System

In the Faculty of Engineering, teaching assistantships are offered to research graduate students.   

Each term, teaching assistance (TA) apply through the TA Application System for up to five courses based on their background and skillsets. Prior to the TA system opening a student can log in and update their CV, and skillsets. Note there is no guarantee that an applicant will receive a teaching assistantship. 

TAs are matched to a course after an instructor interviews and ranking from the instructor and student has completed. Once matching has commenced you will be notified by email of your TA assignment for the term. 

Refer to the MME Teaching Assistant (TA) application guide for more information on the application process

Before you start your TA 

You should consult with the instructor of the course to which you are assigned as a TA after notification from the TA Application System.  

With the instructor, you should discuss what is expected of you for the term.

The following questions may provide a framework for your discussion with the course instructor: 

  • What is structure of the course – lectures, labs, tutorials? 
  • What are your duties and responsibilities as a TA, including; preparing for and running labs or seminars, grading tests/assignments and providing feedback, attending lectures or other regular meetings, holding office hours, etc. 
  • What is grading structure and timetable? 
  • Are there reference materials – such as a textbook, course notes, etc. – that I should have for course? 
  • What are the assignment submission dates? How will marking be distributed to TAs? 
  • What is the turn-around time for returning marked papers and how is this done? 
  • How are marks recorded? 
  • Are extensions allowed? How are they approved and recorded? 
  • Will the instructor provide marking keys or schemes? 
  • How much feedback should be provided on tests and assignments? What form should it take? 

How TAs are paid 

TAs are paid on a monthly basis in accordance with the University of Waterloo's rates for Graduate Teaching Assistantships

Payments are made by direct deposit to your bank account, in monthly instalments on the last Friday of each month. Payroll is handled through Workday.  Watch for emails regarding onboarding 

Graduate Teaching Assistantships are considered employment income and are subject to statutory deductions for income tax, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions and Employment Insurance (EI) premiums. 

More Information for TAs 

TA Training

Students must complete the mandatory safety courses required by the department and the University as well as the TA ExpecTAtions workshop offered by the Faulty of Engineering 

TA Handbook

TA Duties

Depending on the structure of the course, TAs can be asked to undertake a variety of duties, including running lab or tutorial sections, providing extra help hours, marking lab/tutorial assignments, entering the grades on QUEST, marking exams, attending lectures, or assisting with the proctoring of tests or exams. 

TAs must not be asked to write lab assignments or exams, prepare lectures, proctor final exams on their own, or submit final grades. 

  • Office hours provide students with the opportunity to receive individual attention. During these sessions students characteristically inquire about, or discuss, assignments and tests for which they are preparing, or seek clarification about work that has already been marked.  

  • Tutorial sessions usually involve teaching and answering questions about the course readings, lectures, or assignments. For example, a TA might provide further teaching about a topic introduced in class, answer questions about assignments, or go over the answers to exams or assignments. A TA is not normally expected to introduce new material, unless a prior arrangement has been made with the instructor. 

  • Marking: you may find that you are required to mark lab/tutorial assignments, projects, essays, midterms, or final exams. In each case, you should consult with the course instructor, and the other TAs to prepare, or work with an existing answer key. Make sure you understand each of the questions/tasks that the students are required to address. Determine how part marks are to be assigned for each task/question. In some cases, you may find each helpful to grade one question or topic at a time and in one marking session. As you mark submissions, you will be able to identify common errors in the answers and determine how to uniformly mark those. Keep track of particularly good or poor submissions and use those to recalibrate your marking from time to time. 

  • Proctoring exams: when midterms or final exams are held in-person, you may be required to proctor these sessions. Your key duties may include answering questions from students, or monitoring students to ensure that there are no academic integrity infractions. Review your duties with the course instructor prior to the exam. In addition, depending on needs, the department may assign you to proctor mid-term/final exams which take place in another course than what you have been assigned to. Full (1.0) TA positions may include up to three proctoring assignments, 0.75 TA positions up to two proctoring assignments, and 0.5 TA positions may have one proctoring assignment.

TA Responsibilities

In addition to supporting student learning, TAs also fill two important roles: ambassador for the institution, faculty, department and program; and front-line observer. 

Below are details about these roles and the basic standards the Faculty of Environment holds for TAs. 

1. 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 students 

  • 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

2. 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. 

3. 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

4. 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.