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Teaching Assignments

  1. General Description and Requirements
  2. TA Assignments
  3. TA Office Hours
  4. TA Room in Mandler Hall
  5. Policy Per TA Contract
  6. TA Training: Teaching + Learning Commons
  7. TA Mentors
  8. TA Evaluations
  9. Senior TA
  10. Grievance Issues and Procedure
  11. Additional Proctors
  12. Associate-In and Summer Session Teaching

General Description and Requirements

In order to acquire adequate teaching experience, all students are required to participate in the teaching activities of the department for at least four years (one quarter for the first year and typically two quarters the second through the fourth year). There is no educational requirement for students to TA beyond their fourth year, but the department support package in year 5 is largely composed of TA salary, and students in later years commonly have the opportunity to earn money with TA appointments, provided they are within their 18-quarter instructional limit set by the University of California Office of the President (UCOP).

Students are required to enroll in PSYC 500 under the respective course instructor every quarter they TA. Students are expected to complete each PSYC 500 course with a passing grade (S). Those with outside funding are required to satisfactorily complete a minimum of 4 total TA assignments. 

Depending upon the specific requirements of a given course and/or professor, teaching assistant (TA) responsibilities will include the following:

  • Meeting with course instructors before the beginning of the course to establish organizational guidelines for the course.
  • Meeting on a regular basis (e.g., weekly) with the course instructor to ensure ongoing communication regarding progress of students and course.
  • Attending class meetings.
  • Exam preparation.
  • Grading of exams and/or papers.
  • Arranging and proctoring make-up exams (department rooms can be reserved through Student Affairs).
  • Holding office hours, minimum of two hours per week.
  • Holding sections, and/or review sessions.
  • Preparing and giving at least one lecture.  The lecture should be a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 2 hours, and it is preferable for the instructor to be present.  
  • Copying course materials such as exams, syllabi, and handouts.
  • Proctoring examinations. Instructor must remain present.

NOTE: Failure to meet these requirements may lead to termination of the appointment.

When posting scores using an excel spreadsheet TAs should be sure to only list the last 5 digits of the student’s ID number. In no cases should the full student ID be used. (Grades are only posted for those students having signed the “Buckley Waiver”.)

If scores are posted using the "Grades" function on Canvas, no such waiver is necessary.

TA Assignments

Graduate students submit their TA preferences (usually their top 9) to the Graduate Coordinator in Spring or summer of each academic year.

The priority order is as follows:

  • Grad Reps
  • First Year (Note: Not eligible for Spring TA assignment.)
  • Second Year
  • Third Year
  • Fourth Year
  • Fifth Year
  • Sixth Year
  • Seventh Year
  • Eighth Year

The Graduate Coordinator will make every effort to assign each student to his or her first choices. In addition, priority is given to students TAing courses in their area (e.g., a Cognitive student will be given preference to TA Psych 3 or 105, the two Cognitive courses) when possible.

This multi-factor assignment has typically yielded positive results, as it takes into account the different experience, readiness and abilities of students to be effective TAs. Much thought and effort is put into the assignment of TA positions. However, not all students will receive their top picks. Graduate students will be notified of their TA assignment and room location as soon as possible, although it is not uncommon that complications arise that make this difficult.

First year graduate students are not permitted to TA Spring quarter. They must TA either Fall or Winter quarter, so that they may dedicate all of their efforts to completing the first year requirements in Spring quarter.

TA Office Hours

Each TA is required to hold two office hours per week. The department will provide office space in which to hold office hours. Office hours should be announced on the first day of class, and should be included on the course syllabus and course website when practicable. It is often good to remind students throughout the quarter that TAs are available to provide assistance during office hours. It is at the graduate student’s discretion to offer additional office hours by appointment for those undergraduates who are unable to attend the scheduled office hours.

TA Rooms 

TAs may place exams to be collected by students in the Psychology Exam Room in Mandler Hall 1503 (first floor). TAs may store exams in their personal offices or in the shared exam storage space, currently in the grading room (McGill 2116).  Grades should not be posted in public spaces. We recommend using Canvas to post grades so they are only accessible to students enrolled in the course. In order to post grades or make exams accessible to students in a public location like Mandler 1503, you must obtain the student’s signature agreeing to waive their rights to privacy (“Buckley Waiver”).  This is not needed if using the "Grades" function in Canvas.

Policy per TA Contract

The workload for TAs appointed at 50% time should not exceed 220 hours per quarter. Teaching Assistants must be in residence the entire quarter of their TAship. Any student who will not be available for a week or more during his or her TAship, must request permission for this from the instructor of the course and from the Graduate Coordinator.   

Each TA will be evaluated by the instructor (and assigned a satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade) at the end of each quarter they are appointed as a TA.

TA Training: Teaching + Learning Commons

In order to assist students in developing teaching skills, the Teaching + Learning Commons (the Commons) will offer a training at the beginning of Fall quarter. Attendance is required of all first year graduate students. The Commons also offers optional individual consultation, workshops in topics related to TA development, newsletters and a sourcebook of teaching ideas. Students who have used their services have commented on their helpfulness in developing and refining their teaching skills. Please visit their website for more information.

TA Mentors

All incoming students are paired with a TA mentor to provide guidance in their first quarter of TAing. Lectures given by TAs are evaluated by the TA mentor.

TA Evaluation

At the end of every course, the TAs are evaluated by the course instructor. These evaluations are now available here at the end of each quarter, where they are available in the future.

Senior TA

The Senior TA is elected by the graduate students in Spring quarter and is available as a resource for problem solving and other individual needs of Teaching Assistants as they arise. Senior TA duties also include informing graduate students of various teaching workshops and other services available for improvement of teaching skills, and assisting with grading issues.

Grievance Issues and Procedure

A graduate student with a grievance should first talk with the faculty member in charge of the course. If the faculty member does not resolve the grievance to the student’s satisfaction or if the issue is not TA-related, the student should talk with the Graduate Coordinator or the Student Affairs Manager. If this does not resolve the grievance, the Graduate Adviser can also be consulted. If informal attempts to resolve the problem are unsuccessful, the TA may file a formal appeal in accordance with the procedures outlined in UC San Diego Policy and Procedure Manual 230-5, Appeals for Academic Appointees Other than Members of the Academic Senate. Call April Bjornson in the Graduate Division, 858-534-3550, for further information on the grievance procedure.

Additional Proctors

Occasionally a large class will need additional proctors for exams. The instructor of the course should contact the Graduate Coordinator, who will put out a call for these proctors. Proctors are hired as readers and paid at the hourly reader rate.

Associate-In and Summer Session Teaching

Graduate students who have advanced to candidacy are eligible to teach courses in the department as an Associate-In during the academic year or summer. Calls for teaching proposal typically go out in Fall Quarter for teaching in the following academic year and in the summer.