A Conversation with Your Course Supervisor

Revised from “An Instructional Resource Guide for Teaching Assistants”.

Checklist for TAs and Course Supervisors

It is advisable to determine, as soon as possible, what your supervising faculty member’s expectations are and to establish the range of responsibilities you will have for the semester. Responsibilities will vary from instructor to instructor and across departments; some individuals will have well-established roles and responsibilities for their TAs, while others may not. The following checklist and subsequent pages can be used to help facilitate a discussion between you and your supervising faculty member. Its purpose is to help you clarify expectations and responsibilities. You can write ‘N/A’ where items do not apply to your position. Both the TA and faculty member may wish to keep a copy of the information.

Overview of Primary Responsibilities

The TA will be responsible for:

__ working ____ (number of hours) per week
__ holding office hours
__ attending lectures
__ keeping class records
__ creating/selecting class materials
__ presenting new material/lecturing
__ leading discussions/answering questions
__ conducting review sessions
__ holding tutorial sessions
__ duplicating materials
__ preparing/collecting solutions to questions
__ grading/providing feedback on assignments and exams
__ assigning course grades
__ ordering, obtaining AV equipment/materials
__ setting up the lab
__ running lab section(s)
__ demonstrating procedures or setting up demonstrations
__ cleaning the lab
__ others (see following pages)

It is important that you determine how many hours you should allocate for class time, laboratories, office hours, preparation, grading and other duties. By reviewing the following pages, and determining which duties you will be taking on, you will be able to better plan your time and perform your responsibilities.

Course Overview

__ What are the course goals/objectives?
__ Who are the students (background with subject, level, class list, etc.)?
__ What are the names/emails/phone numbers of other TAs assigned to this course?
__ What is the procedure to follow if you are ill or must miss a class/lab?
__ What is the workload distribution among TAs assigned to the course?

Initial Tasks

__ What are you expected to do prior to the first class meeting?
__ Are you expected to attend the first class meeting?

TA/Supervisor Meetings

__ How frequently will you meet with the professor/supervisor?
__ How can you be contacted by the professor/supervisor?

    __ office phone: ________________
    __ home phone: ________________
    __ e-mail: ________________
    __ note on office door: ________________ (office number: ________________)
    __ note in laboratory: ________________ (laboratory location: ____________)
    __ note in box ________________

__ How can the professor/instructor be contacted?

    __ office phone: ________________
    __ home phone: ________________
    __ e-mail: ________________
    __ note on office door: ________________ (office number: ________________)
    __ note in laboratory: ________________ (laboratory location: ____________)
    __ note in box ________________

It is advisable to take home the contact info for the supervisor and other TAs (if there are any) so that you know who to get in touch with in case of illness or emergencies.


Textbook/laboratory manual:

__ How can you obtain a copy?

Other materials:

__ If you are responsible for putting materials on reserve, what procedure do you need to follow?
__ Will the course have a Vista or another Internet site? (Make sure you have access.)

    __ Who maintains and monitors the website and who do you contact for technical problems?
    __ In what way are the students expected to use the website?

__ Are you expected to read all class materials and answer student questions regarding these materials?

    __ Who should you contact for course content problems?

Class Meetings

__ How often are you expected to attend class?

    ___ every class
    ___ exams only
    ___ not required to attend any classes
    ___ other

__ If you are expected to attend class, at what time are you expected to arrive? _______
__ What responsibilities will you have with respect to the class meeting?

    ___ answer questions at the beginning, middle or end of class
    ___ distribute/collect assignments and/or handouts
    ___ take notes on the lecture
    ___ lead discussion(s), facilitate activities
    ___ notify students of class cancellations
    ___ set up/run AV/lab equipment
    ___ lecture/present material (will faculty supervisor be available for assistance?)
    ___ clarify class/university policies (lateness, assignment/test make-up, cheating)

Office Hours

__ Does the instructor/professor hold office hours? __ yes __ no
If yes, where and when?  _____________________
__ Are you expected to hold weekly office hours? __ yes __ no
If yes, where and when?  _____________________
__ How will students be notified of the location and times of your office hours?

Other Student Contact Responsibilities

__ How will students contact you? (An email address is the safest way)
__ Are you expected to:

    ___ conduct review or help sessions?
    ___ tutor individuals or groups (beyond office hours)?

__ If so, when and where?


__ Are you expected to reserve, obtain and return AV, computer or lab equipment?

    If so, what equipment will be needed and when will it be needed?
    Where is this equipment located?
    Is there a charge, form, or project number used for reserving equipment?


__ Are you expected to photocopy materials for the course?

    If so, what materials will need to be photocopied and where are they located?

__ Are you expected to bring photocopied materials to class?
__ If you are responsible for photocopying, where should it be done?

    ___ in departmental office?
    ___ other?  If so, where?  __________
    Will you be provided with a code?

__ Are you required to bring the photocopying to:

    ___ a departmental secretary?
    ___ a duplicating service on campus?

__ How much lead time is needed?
__ What is the procedure?

__ What kind of assignments are students expected to complete?
__ Are due dates and late-acceptance policy specified in the syllabus?
__ How can you obtain a copy of department policies on grading, plagiarism, and so on, and a copy of university policies that directly affect instruction?
__ Find out who is responsible for marking schemes and grading rubrics.
__ Make sure you know the mechanism for grade complaints and articulate this to your class.
__ With respect to assignments, what responsibilities will you have?

    ___ preparing
    ___ collecting
    ___ grading/recording scores
    ___ giving feedback
    ___ instructing students about specific formats

__ When will exams be held for your course?
__ Will you be expected to create questions for any of the exams?

    If so, how many questions and of what type will you be expected to create?
    By when?
    Will the professor/ instructor review the questions you create?
    What resources are available to assist you in preparing questions?

__ Are you expected to score/grade exams?

    By when?

__ Who establishes grading criteria?
__ Will the professor/instructor attend exams?
__ Are you expected to bring the exams to the exam session?
__ Are you expected to bring other materials to the exam session?

You will be expected to invigilate a final exam during the final exam period each term. It may be in a different course than the one you are teaching. Once you know which exam you will be invigilating, you should contact that course instructor as soon as possible to determine your responsibilities.

__ What is the date and time of the exam you will be invigilating? 
__ At what time are you expected to arrive at the exam location? 
__ Where is the exam location? 
__ Will the professor/instructor attend the exam?
__ Are you expected to bring the exams to the exam session?
__ Are you expected to bring other materials to the exam session?


__ What responsibilities will you have with respect to administration and grading?

    ___ enforce academic misconduct rules
    ___ assign grades/make recommendations for grading
    ___ keep class records. If so, when must they be turned in?
    ___ tabulate grades. If so, when must they be turned in?
    ___ fill out and/or submit grade sheets. If so, when must they be turned in?
    ___ post scores /grades. If so, when and where?

TA Performance Evaluation/Feedback

__ What manner of performance evaluation can you expect?

    ___ formal observation/evaluation from faculty/instructor
    ___ peer observation
    ___ student ratings

__ When will evaluation(s) be given?

    ___ at mid-semester
    ___ at semester’s end
    ___ at the TA’s request
    ___ when there is a problem
    ___ informally during the semester as part of regular meetings

__ Student evaluation of TA’s performance will be:

    ___ When? Who will receive copies?

Course Evaluation

__ What type of evaluation will be conducted for the course and the instructor?
__ Who gets copies of the results?