What would you expect from a GTA?

(12 Posts)
pontificationcentral Wed 10-Aug-16 04:18:38

I'm back off to uni in September and have been offered a teaching assistantship as part of my funding offer - details are fairly sketchy, (okay, enormously sketchy) but it seems as though I will be assigned to a specific undergraduate course where there is a nominated lecturer. Just wondering if any of you have graduate assistants of this type, and if so, what do you expect them to do? I have been out of education for a horrifyingly long time and don't really know what to expect - other than that I will be assigned to an undergrad Eng Lit course and I will get my contract 'in a few weeks'...

Any ideas?

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arclight Wed 10-Aug-16 13:47:33

Duties can vary a lot from discipline to discipline, but our GTAs do about 6 hours per week, including prep. Work can include leading small group seminars (discussing a paper, helping students with a worksheet), grading undergraduate assignments or being one of a number of GTAs in a lab (eg, stats, programming).

pontificationcentral Wed 10-Aug-16 15:03:39

Thanks arc. Is there usually a fairly good induction process? At the moment it seems pretty loosey-goosey and I'm wondering if I should be doing some prep now (but no idea what!)

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arclight Wed 10-Aug-16 15:22:18

There's a departmental induction process alright but loosey-goosey may be pretty close to the mark. There are university courses that GTAs are required to take, and other voluntary ones that can supplement this training. A good lecturer will make sure you have everything you need to do the job (crib sheets, answer guides), and so you will only have to do a small amount of preparatory work.

TheWindInThePillows Wed 10-Aug-16 15:59:54

Our GTAs are assigned one or two UG modules, and usually they have to run the seminar discussion and mark some work. The extent of this varies enormously though, mine have a fairly easy life as I prepare the seminar work quite a lot, but others take a less formal approach and so the GTA may have to think up tasks, discussions and so forth. It does take a reasonable amount of time to read the set papers/books as well which you have to know if you are going to help the students with them.

The more you can find out, the better, though I bet no-one will be telling you much til early/mid Sept.

pontificationcentral Wed 10-Aug-16 16:24:55

Thanks both, that's really helpful. Our term starts in the second week of sept, so I am starting to feel a bit unprepared! I need to unclench...

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MarasmeAbsolu Wed 10-Aug-16 20:39:55

our GTAs do demonstrating, after full induction.
They never mark [Russell group] and never teach front of class.

TheWindInThePillows Thu 11-Aug-16 12:26:31

Our GTA's don't mark 2nd and 3rd year work (i.e. that which counts towards degree classification) but they do mark some 1st year work and definitely formative (not counting, just for feedback) assignments.

OP, I would ask the administrator or whoever is in charge of assigning classes when you are likely to know which module you have got. But I do think before Sept 1st is unrealistic, people really do go away in Aug/retreat to write, and it's only when the term is looming that they all panic about what has to be done. If you are a hard working person, then just up your game in early Sept.

LuchiMangsho Thu 11-Aug-16 12:33:40

Our GTAs are expected to lead seminar groups and mark essays. If you haven't been in a Uni environment for a while I would say that you should attend the UG lectures as well, so you know what they've been taught and lesson plan for your seminars accordingly. You will need to set time aside to read/prepare for the seminar. The Lecturer in charge may suggest some stuff to do in the seminar group or she/he may leave it mostly to you.

pontificationcentral Thu 11-Aug-16 14:49:46

Thanks all, it's really helpful to have a broad idea - especially if it varies so much! I suspect this one may include seminars and some marking - I've found a reference on the funding pages that gives a couple of differences with teaching and non-teaching offers, including the necessity to offer set office hours per week for student appts.
When I accepted the place, the lovely graduate administrator in the department said that they would usually not expect new students to teach in the first term, while they were settling in (although this could not be guaranteed) but I received an email from her saying they were finalizing the arrangements for the September term and could I get in touch, as they were looking at a course for both terms. I called on Monday and she is now away until 22nd August - the UG administrator was very sweet but unable to help - she's going to see what she can find out but they are doing the allocations now and contracts will be out in a few weeks when x gets back...
Ah well. If only I had picked up the email a few hours earlier!!
It seems reasonable that it will all come together in September - I was just hoping that I would be able to get my own programme underway first - I feel as though as I need to have a really solid start as I have been out so long, to up my confidence levels about the change. Added to that, everything is slightly different as my first degree is from a different country, so part of the problem is that everything seems to be 'the same but different' - I just haven't yet worked out how different!

Thanks for sharing your experiences. V helpful.

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crazycatguy Thu 11-Aug-16 14:54:27

I had a GTA also. I led 2 seminars a week and marked their essays (two a semester) and their final exam.

It was relatively little work for much needed cash. It instilled a love of teaching in me, which I then went into.

pontificationcentral Thu 11-Aug-16 15:02:15

Oh lovely - thanks cat. Were you responsible for planning the seminars, or were you given pretty good plans to beef up and run with? (I am in the same boat re cash - dh was mildly bemused that my wages are about to dwindle to nothing, the year before the first of our kids is off to uni. The funding offer is really the only way this craziness is possible!)

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