Postsecondary Teaching Assistants

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Also known as:
Graduate Assistant, Graduate Fellow, Graduate Research Assistant, Graduate Student, Graduate Student Instructor (GSI), Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA), Research Assistant (RA), Teaching Assistant (TA), Teaching Fellow

ABOUT POSTSECONDARY TEACHING ASSISTANT CAREERS
Video transcript

Graduate teaching assistants, or TAs, are graduate students who teach introductory and intermediate level college courses in universities. TAs develop course materials, lead student discussions or laboratory work, and grade papers and tests for undergraduate, or bachelor's level, courses. For large classes taught by a faculty member, TAs assist faculty members with materials and equipment during class, and in conducting their research. They also provide feedback to students and, for very large classes, act as a bridge between the professor teaching it, and the students enrolled. Graduate teaching assistants hold office hours for answering students' questions, and offer extra help or tutoring outside of class. Graduate teaching assistants must be enrolled in a graduate school program, and have at least a bachelor's degree in the field they teach. Typically, they have completed a portion of the coursework required for a doctoral program.

SNAPSHOT
Assist faculty or other instructional staff in postsecondary institutions by performing instructional support activities, such as developing teaching materials, leading discussion groups, preparing and giving examinations, and grading examinations or papers.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
LOW
Level of responsibilities
LOW
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
LOW
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
HIGH
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Order or obtain materials needed for classes.

Notify instructors of errors or problems with assignments.

Teach undergraduate-level courses.

Meet with supervisors to discuss students' grades or to complete required grade-related paperwork.

Inform students of the procedures for completing and submitting class work, such as lab reports.

Return assignments to students in accordance with established deadlines.

Tutor or mentor students who need additional instruction.

Schedule and maintain regular office hours to meet with students.

Copy and distribute classroom materials.

Prepare or proctor examinations.

Develop teaching materials, such as syllabi, visual aids, answer keys, supplementary notes, or course Web sites.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Training and Teaching Others Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Communications and Media Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Clerical Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
Sociology and Anthropology Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
TOP SKILLS
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Instructing Teaching others how to do something.
Learning Strategies Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.