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Responsibilities of Lecturers & Graduate Teaching Associates


Members of the Faculty in the Department of History recognize the importance of training graduate students to teach at the university level.  One of the methods the Department employs involves assigning Graduate Teaching Associates (GTA) to work with faculty Lecturers in survey and upper-level lecture courses.  It is the purpose of the following guidelines, which have been developed through discussions between faculty and graduate students, to clarify the responsibilities of both Lecturer and GTA—who may serve as either a Discussion Section Leader (DSL) or Grader.  The relationship between the Lecturer and GTA should be one of cooperation, partnership, and mutual respect.

I. Responsibilities of the Lecturer

  1. ​The Lecturer is responsible for designing the course, including preparing the syllabus and course requirements, establishing the structure and content of discussion sections and grading policies, and ordering desk copies of the assigned books for the GTA.
  2. After GTA assignments are announced for the forthcoming quarter, the Lecturer should as soon as possible before the first day of class discuss with the GTA the design of the course and the expectations for the GTA.
  3. To ensure that course objectives are being met, the Lecturer should schedule meetings with the GTA at regular intervals, normally once a week, throughout the quarter to discuss various aspects of the course, including the assigned readings, advising of students, grading of assignments, and, for DSLs, the topics and readings to be discussed for each discussion section.  The Lecturer should hold a final meeting at the end of the quarter to furnish an opportunity for both Lecturer and GTA to provide feedback on their experience with the course.
  4. The Lecturer may ask the GTA to submit graded examinations and papers (or sample thereof) and grade distributions to the Lecturer for approval.  It is understood that, although the GTA may be assigning grades to his or her students, it is the Lecturer who bears final responsibility for the course and for grades assigned in the course.  The Lecturer will act as the source of appeal for a student who is not satisfied with the GTA’s explanation of a grade, but the Lecturer should consult with the GTA about the final determination of the appeal.
  5. The Lecturer is responsible for evaluating the GTA’s work.  For DSLs with less than three quarters of experience, the Lecturer will visit a discussion section twice during the quarter—once during the first three weeks and once after the sixth week.  The Lecturer and the DSL may arrange additional visits.  For DSLs who have served as a discussion leader for at least three quarters, the Lecturer need only attend one discussion class during the first three weeks of the quarter.  Soon after each visit, the Lecturer and the DSL should discuss the observations made.
  6. After the final course grades are turned in, the Lecturer must fill out a “Teaching Assistant Service Report” on each GTA.  After completing the service report, the Lecturer shall discuss it with the GTA and give opportunity to the GTA to add comments to the form before it is submitted to the Academic Program Coordinator, who will then make a copy for the GTA.  The service report then becomes a part of the GTA’s permanent file.

II. Responsibilities of the GTAs

  1. The GTA is generally responsible for all grading and advising (relative to the course) of students assigned to him/her.  The GTA is expected to attend and take notes on all lectures, complete all readings assigned in a timely fashion, hold a minimum of two regularly scheduled office hours per week in his/her office (more if needed after the return of examinations and papers), be available to students by appointment, and complete grading assignments according to the standards established by the Lecturer and by the date assigned by the Lecturer.  If requested by the Lecturer, the GTA may participate in the construction of examinations and other written assignments.
  2. GTAs will not be expected to complete outside readings beyond those required of students in the course, except in circumstances where a GTA is assigned as a DSL in a course for which he or she lacks preparation; in these cases, the Lecturer may provide additional readings as are necessary.  GTAs will not be expected to lecture to the whole class, except by mutual agreement between the Lecturer and the GTA.
  3. If there are problems between the Lecturer and GTA that the GTA does not think can be brought directly to the Lecturer, the GTA should contact the Chair of Graduate Studies, who will consult with the Academic Program Coordinator.
  4. DSLs will be assigned as discussion leaders to appropriate lower-level courses as needed by the Department.  Although DSLs will ordinarily be assigned to courses related to one of their programs of study, it might be necessary to assign a DSL to a course for which he or she has little or no graduate-level preparation.  Normally, the DSL will be responsible for two sections, each section meeting twice weekly.  From time to time, there may be variations from this pattern.
  5. Without prior approval of the Lecturer, the DSL will not present formal lectures in his or her own sections. The DSL will follow the structure and content of discussion sections as outlined by the Lecturer.  The DSL is encouraged to employ a variety of teaching techniques that s/he has learned from other teaching courses and experiences.
  6. Following University rules, the DSL must use the University Student Evaluation of Instruction form at the end of the quarter.  The DSL is strongly encouraged to use an additional evaluation form for qualitative feedback.