What is a TA?

Teaching assistantships (TAs) are an important and integral part of teaching and learning in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The goal is to provide support to our faculty in order to improve the quality of our teaching and generate an enriched learning experience for our undergraduate and graduate students.

TA Task Assignment

Each graduate student is typically assigned two TAs per academic year. A list of graduate students eligible to TA for the upcoming semester will be sent to all graduate students. If your name is on the list, you will be requested to accept or decline the TA using an internal web form. If you are accepting the TA you will also have the option to indicate what type of TA task you would prefer. We will try to accommodate as many preferences as possible.

Decisions to accept or decline a TA should be made in conjunction with your supervisor. This is important because it may mean your supervisor will be required to cover the loss of TA funding using research grants. On occasion, we require more TAs than are eligible for a particular semester. If you are not eligible for a TA, but would like to volunteer for one, you may do so using an alternate internal form.

TA tasks are typically one of the following:

Tutorials: This is usually helping students with homework assignments and course material.

Laboratory Demonstrating: Teaching students to do experiments and marking their write-ups

Marking: This can be weekly homework assignments, midterm and final examinations

Proctoring: Almost all courses require TAs to proctor midterm and final examinations.

Training

We provide some initial training in the form of a TA Workshop that is run each year in the Fall semester. This workshop is provided in conjunction with the Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE). It covers the basics of classroom teaching, laboratory demonstrating and marking.

TA resources can be found below:

TA Workshop presentation (PDF)

Physics Lab TA resonsibilities (PDF)

For more in-depth training, there is the Certificate of University Teaching (CUT) which is offered by CTE. The application requirements are outlined on the CUT pages at the CTE.