Supporting new TAs at UW
The Center for Teaching & Learning offers support to new TAs in two ways – through an annual “Teaching@UW: Strategies for TAs” program and through our web resources.
Teaching@UW: Strategies for TAs
This program consists of two parts:
1.“Teaching@UW: Strategies for TAs” (Canvas)
This site will include interactive modules on:
- Inclusive teaching
- Active learning
- Aligning lecture and section content (for quiz sections)
- Backward course design (for those who teach as the sole instructor)
- Teaching the first day of class
- Preparing for challenging moments
- Fostering students’ mental health and well-being
- Resources for International TAs*
2. “Teaching@UW: Workshop for new TAs” (Zoom)
Monday, Sept 18, 2023
This 90-minute synchronous Zoom workshop features a panel of TAs, faculty members, and CTL staff members sharing specific strategies and answering common TA questions. The workshop will be recorded and posted online for TAs who are unable to attend, do not yet have a UW NetID, or who do not begin their TA-ship until Winter or Spring quarters.
Registration for the program will be available in mid-June. Check back to this page then for the registration link.
Requirements for new TAs
Some departments may require TAs to participate in one or both of these opportunities. TAs can check in with their department coordinator to find out about any requirements and deadlines.
*International TAs for whom English is an additional language can fulfill part 3 of Graduate School Policy 5.2 by completing the “Resources for international TAs” Canvas module. TAs should check in with their department coordinators to see if and by when they must complete this module.
Resources for TAs
Graduate teaching assistants (TAs) are vitally important members of the University of Washington teaching community. As a TA, you may have one role or a combination of many different roles, including:
- Designing and teaching your own course
- Assisting a professor by leading a quiz section
- Staffing a laboratory
- Working in a departmental study center
The information and resources on this page are designed to help you prepare for your role(s) and responsibilities as a TA at the UW.
Preparing to teach
Designing your course and syllabus
An effective course design begins with understanding your students, deciding what you want them to learn, determining how you will measure student learning, and planning activities, assignments, and materials that support student learning. The syllabus provides the instructor and students with a common reference point that sets the stage for learning throughout the course.
Teaching the first day of class
A successful first day can be a key component of a successful quarter. You should envision the first day as more than just a time to review your syllabus, it is an opportunity for you to establish expectations, set the tone and to get to know your students.
What helps students learn?
Research on teaching effectiveness identifies a number of factors that contribute to student learning. In consulting with instructors about their teaching, observing their classes, and interviewing their students, we have observed these factors at work in a wide variety of classes.
What helps students learn
Student-centered approaches to teaching
Research demonstrates that engaging students in the learning process increases their attention and focus, motivates them to practice higher-level critical thinking skills, and promotes meaningful learning experiences. Instructors who adopt a student-centered approach to instruction increase opportunities for student engagement, helping everyone achieve the course’s learning objectives.
As a TA you might work with student writing in a number of ways: short-answer exams, essays, journals, blog posts, research assignments and so on. You may also take your students through the writing process by assigning drafts, encouraging peer response through structure or informal exercises, and using writing to facilitate active learning.
Assessment and grading
Assessing student learning
Practices related to grading—both as an assessment of student performance and as a mechanism through which students receive feedback on their work—vary widely across disciplines, course levels, departments, institutions and instructors. However, there are several strategies that most instructors agree contribute to successful grading.
Designing tests is an important part of assessing students understanding of course content and their level of competency in applying what they are learning. Whether you use low-stakes and frequent evaluations (quizzes), or high-stakes and infrequent evaluations (midterm and final), careful design will help provide more calibrated results.
Grading is an extremely complex task. Grades do not exist in a vacuum, but are part of the instructional process and serve as a feedback loop between instructor and student. Consequently, grading policy should be consistent with the learning objectives for the course.
Keeping accurate and thorough records of your evaluation of each student’s performance throughout the quarter is important. You should also keep your records for a while after the quarter is over because students may come back later to question a grade, finish an incomplete, or ask you to write a recommendation.
Creating a culture of academic integrity
It is unfortunate when it happens, but you may have to confront the possibility that a student has plagiarized or cheated on an assignment or examination. The University has carefully specified policies and procedures for addressing academic misconduct, and it is important for you to know what they are if you find yourself facing these problems.
Creating a culture of academic integrity
Integrating technology into your teaching
Teaching with technology can deepen student learning by supporting instructional objectives. However, it can be challenging to select the “best” tech tools while not losing sight of your goals for student learning.
Integrating Technology Into Your Teaching
The Graduate School
The Graduate School provides resources to help students navigate the complex process of completing a graduate education.