Teaching assistantships

Teaching assistantships are an important aspect of graduate education because they provide invaluable practice for developing teaching skills, such as clearly formulating concepts and conveying ideas engagingly, as well as mentoring skills.

The department provides two full teaching assistantships (TA) for students who are not externally funded. For students who receive an external award (e.g., tri-agency scholarships or Ontario Graduate Scholarship), the department provides a minimum of one teaching assistantship. Graduate students in their first and second terms will normally be assigned to first and second year undergraduate courses, and advanced students will be assigned to upper-year graduate courses. TA duties involve consultation with students, marking assignments and exams, preparing examples, or assisting with tutorial sessions. The amount of work varies somewhat from course to course, but the duties of one full TA involve an average of 10 hours per week for the term. In the Faculty of Arts, a full TA is 140 hours per term.

Continuation of TA support for Psychology graduate students beyond the first year is contingent on satisfactory performance of previous TA assignments.

TA pointers

Please consult at the very start of the term with the instructor of the course to which you assigned as a TA. The following questions may provide a framework for your discussion with the course instructor:

  • What is structure of the course – lectures, labs, tutorials?
  • What is grading structure and timetable?
  • Are there reference materials – such as a textbook, course notes, etc. – that I should have for course?
  • What office hours should I provide each week?
  • 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?

Important notes

  1. Use the Teaching Assistant Handbook as your reference guide. It contains well-researched ideas, advice, and guidance regarding University of Waterloo policies and legal obligations. Become familiar with the relevant ethics, human rights, and discipline policies.
  2. Your TA assignment is an employment contract with the department and the University of Waterloo. It is your responsibility to read and know the information contained in the TA Handbook.
  3. The TA contract requires that you must stay enrolled as a full-time graduate student for the full term stated on the contract.  If you expect to finish your degree before the term's end, you cannot be hired as a TA.
  4. Your TA contract requires that you are available to assist with TA responsibilities until the end of the term examination period. You are expected to participate in final exam proctoring assignments provided by the department, and your course instructor will likely require grading of final papers. Do not plan to leave campus before end of the examination period.
  5. Final exam proctoring is a serious responsibility with legal implications that are outline in Academic Regulations Related to Assignments, Tests, and Final Exams 
  6. If you require further advice regarding any TA issue or have an unresolved problem, please contact the Administrative Coordinator for Graduate Studies in Psychology for confidential consultation.