TA Experience

Teaching Assistantships in the School of Biological Sciences

Both undergraduate and graduate students can TA courses in Biological Sciences. Biological Sciences UTAs and GTAs carry equal teaching responsibilities with the expectation that they will work 13 hours / week, on average, during a fall/spring semester. Graduate students become Teaching Assistants (GTAs) through a request via their PI (PhD students) or Chung Kim (MS students). GTAs are paid a graduate stipend in exchange for supporting student learning alongside a course instructor. Undergraduate Teaching Assistants (UTAs) are recruited by course instructors or respond to our mid-semester call for TAs.

Duties and responsibilities

Teaching Assistants perform duties related to teaching, which typically include:

  • Co-teaching in two laboratory sessions (lab TA) or facilitate all lecture/recitation sessions (lecture TA)Supporting active learning in lecture sections
  • Assisting in the preparation of learning materials Providing students with guidance in interpretation of course subject matter Holding office hours/appointments with students
  • Grading assessments such as papers and reports, tests, quizzes, homework.
  • Course administration tasks like attendance and participation
  • Additional duties defined by the course instructor
Undergraduate TA application

Undergraduates can apply to TA in the upcoming semester for APPH, BIOS, and NEUR courses by responding to the call for TAs that goes out mid-semester. Potential UTAs recruited by course instructors should complete the TA Application and indicate the instructor and course they have been invited to TA. Contact Dr. Colin Harrison << colin.harrison@biosci.gatech.edu>> for additional information. We do not typically accept new undergraduate TAs for the summer semester.

UTA training courses

UTAs enroll in two teaching preparatory courses, BIOS 4697 and CETL 2000 BIO, in the first semester as a teaching assistant. BIOS 4697 can count as a Breath Elective for Biology majors. In subsequent semesters, experienced UTAs can enroll in BIOS 4697 repeatedly. Biology majors may use up to 6 credits of BIOS 4697 as Biology Breadth Electives, and any additional BIOS 4697 credits can count toward free electives. Each semester of teaching corresponds to a different course assignment.

Alternatively, returning UTAs have the option, with permission of instructor, to enroll in TA for Audit or Pay (BIOS 4696), an audit only course that does not incur tuition and cannot be used toward the BS degree.

TA assignment

Teaching assistants are assigned to best meet the teaching and learning needs of students in the undergraduate and graduate curricula. Assignments are made by the TA Assignment Committee in consultation with the course schedule, programmatic TA needs, the graduate committee, teaching assistant course requests, and instructional faculty. The committee consists of representatives of each major cluster of courses that require TA support: APPH wellness courses, BIOS courses, and NEUR courses. Graduate TAs come from five PhD programs: APPH, BIOL, BINF, OSE, QBIOS. Undergraduate TAs may be recruited from any major as long as they have taken the course they will TA and earned a B or higher, have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher, and interview successfully for a TA position.

Once you receive formal notification of your TA assignment, you should contact the instructor of the course as soon as possible and well before the first day of classes to discuss the specific responsibilities and duties for the teaching assistantship assignment.

Additional opportunities for TAs to develop their teaching skills with faculty guidance, observation, and feedback include:

  • Giving a lecture in a course, with faculty guidance, observation, and feedback
  • Designing an assessment or activity for the course
  • Developing curriculum for a future version or revision of a course
Confidentiality and academic integrity

As a TA you will be assessing the work of your peers or near-peers, and, in some cases, your friends. As a member of the School of Biological Sciences teaching team, you will be expected to maintain a professional relationship with all students in your assigned course and abide by all university, state, and federal policies, including the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regarding student privacy. You will be provided with these rules and expectations as part of the CETL 2000 / 8000 TA Training course. In addition, TAs are expected to abide by the Georgia Tech Honor Code and to recognize that either allowing your relationship with a student to influence the grades you assign or intentionally manipulating grades in any way is a violation of the GT Honor Code (https://osi.gatech.edu/content/honor-code).

Should a problem arise

We encourage you to communicate promptly regarding any problems or issues you encounter during your TA position. Depending on the nature of the issue, you should discuss the situation with the faculty instructor in the course you are teaching, the course instructors for CETL 2000 / 8000 and BIOS 4697 (or BIOS 4696), and/or the Director of the Biological Sciences TA Program, Dr. Chrissy Spencer (chrissy.spencer@biology.gatech.edu).

TA evaluation

Instructors and TAs can and should discuss formative feedback at the mid-semester. At mid-semester, a member of the TA Assignment Committee will check in with TAs and faculty to note any concerns or issues, and help to ameliorate those through opening communication channels, clarifying expectations, and mediating conflict. For UTAs, the course instructor for BIOS 4697 will check in again at the end of the semester before assigning course grades. All TAs are entered into the TAOS student opinion survey to receive end-of-semester anonymous feedback from students.

Graduate TA application

Please consult with Chung Kim or Lisa Redding in the graduate office. GTAs enroll in BIOL 8997 for 3 credits during each semester they teach. In the first semester of teaching GTAs enroll in CETL 8000 BY (1 credit).