TA Supervision & Feedback
The training and mentoring of TAs is a great investment in the TA's professional future. It is, moreover, the faculty's responsibility to ensure that undergraduate instruction is the highest quality possible. The system described below of faculty-TA interaction will help the University of Kentucky meet two central goals of graduate education: preparing future faculty and improving undergraduate instruction.
To fulfill SACS requirements and to foster a mechanism of structured departmental feedback to TAs, each semester The Graduate School collects the following three items documenting each TA’s performance.
1. TA Class Observation Form
A faculty member in the program (one who holds a terminal degree in the discipline or a closely related discipline) must observe at least one class session of each TA (except Type 4) in the program once a semester. If the program is small (fewer than 10 TAs), the program’s designated TA coordinator (or course coordinator, lab supervisor, etc.) may serve as the observer; if the pool of TAs is large, numerous program faculty should assist. The Graduate School has developed a simple form for this purpose, the TA Class Observation Form, which should be shared with, discussed with, and signed by the TA. After reading and discussing the observation, the TA is encouraged to respond to the observation in the space allotted on the form and may continue his/her commentary on an attachment.
This form should be kept in the TA's file and a copy should be submitted to the Dean of The Graduate School (to the attention of Erin Shoot) to hold for review and SACS documentation.
Click here for the TA Class Observation Form
Click here for the four TA Types and The Provost's Policy on TA Teaching Credentials.
In large classes with multiple sections, faculty must help the course coordinators with class observations. These faculty visits to TA instruction include discussion sections led by TAs under supervision of a course coordinator, lab sections under a lab supervisor, and independently taught sections of a course. TA instruction includes night courses and courses or sections held off campus; summer teaching by TAs; and courses in other media such as blackboard and other electronic delivery systems. TAs who assist directly in the classroom of a faculty member should be evaluated by him/her. TAs who are graders (and other Type 4s) are not observed but should be monitored by the supervisor for accuracy and consistency.
2. TA Supervisor’s Semester-End Assessment of Overall Performance
The above requirement of one class observation does NOT mean that the regular course coordinator or TA coordinator has no supervisory role. That coordinator should submit a semester-end assessment of overall TA or lab assistant performance in the following areas for all TA Types, as applicable: reliability in group activities and in classroom; punctuality in assignments and grading; accuracy in presentation; knowledge of subject matter, and other items specific to the assignment. This assessment should also be included in the TA's file and a copy submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School (to the attention of Mr. Holger Lenz). Please keep this to one page if possible.
3. Teacher/Course Evaluation
The third item in the TA's folio is the Teacher/Course Evaluation. Please make sure that each TA (Types 1 and 2 only) receives a TCE. Submit a copy of a TCE report from at least one of the TA’s current courses. (Note: If your program participates in the uniform TCE conducted by the Office of Institutional Research, the TCEs for all TA-instructed courses will be relayed directly to The Graduate School. Beginning in Fall 2008, programs will no longer have to supply copies.)
All three items should be kept in the student's departmental file and will be archived in the Graduate School for SACS scrutiny.
Click here for a one-page overview of the TA Evaluation/Feedback Process at UK.
Mandatory Ongoing Training for TAs
Continuing TAs are required to attend departmental or college-level professional development activities each term they are employed, at least one of which should be held at or near the beginning of the term. TA Coordinators may ask the most experienced TAs to present on their own pedagogical experiences or best practices in the classroom, if they have been guided by faculty in that project. Coordinators may also combine this activity with other departments in related disciplines or with similar pedagogy. If your College is small, you may hold a College-wide activity. For Spring term, you can make this a 2-3 hour workshop for all TAs. The course organization meetings for multi-section courses would serve as such an activity if they have a pedagogical component and if all TAs are required to attend and attendance is recorded. Each TA, new and returning, is required to attend.
The beginning-of-semester in-service activity should be held separately from the department’s or college’s New TA Orientation. These activities usually occur consecutively and should be scheduled to coordinate with the dates of the University-Wide Orientation for New TAs conducted by The Graduate School.
Please submit the date, time, place, and agenda of your departmental or college New TA orientation, as well as your beginning-of-semester training activities for all TAs, preferably within two weeks after the semester ends but no later than August 1 to Erin Shoot in The Graduate School Dean’s office.
In addition to the beginning-of-semester activity for all TAs, each program is required to hold at least one mandatory in-service training event for TAs—continuing and new—during the semester. Attendance should be required and recorded. For in-service training, some current practices will work, for example:
Recommended TA Mentoring System
Questions? Contact Dr. Morris Grubbs (257-9725) in The Graduate School.