Being a Teaching Assistant (TA) means that you are both an expert and an important first point of contact for students in your course.
Doctoral (PhD) students are required to be a TA in two courses. To help our TAs succeed, the Pratt School of Engineering provides training for teaching assistants.
Teaching is an important skill, which will grow and develop during your service as a Teaching Assistant. It is also important to know that TAs are critical to undergraduate learning — the TA sets the tone for student behavior and performance in the classroom and teaching laboratory, and the TA is often the first to see evidence that a student is struggling and needs additional help.
The Role of the Teaching Assistant
- Perform all duties in a timely and professional manner
- Become familiar with course material
- Attend all preparatory sessions
- Interact with students in an appropriate and respectful way
- Know safety and emergency procedures
- Acquire appropriate safety training or training for specific skills
- Uphold the Duke Community Standard
- Holding office hours and/or being available to students by appointment
- Running lab or recitation sessions (including brief introductory lectures)
- Attending preparatory sessions for labs
- Attending course lectures
- Grading (pre-lab quizzes, lab reports, exams, etc.)
- Collecting selected grades for ABET review
- Posting course material to Sakai or other course website
- Maintaining clear records of student grades
- Designing homework problems, lab report questions, exam questions, etc.
- Tracking student attendance
- Attending regular meetings with instructor
- Presenting review sessions before exams
- Presenting a guest lecture
Assigning Teaching Assistants to Courses
The director of graduate studies (DGS) for the department, and her or his assistant (DGSA) assign TAs to courses. Whenever possible, your DGS and DGSA will try to assign students to courses taught by their advisers. Students with particular interest in specific courses should talk to their DGSA.
A teaching assistant will often be the first person to notice when a student is getting overwhelmed by personal life, grade pressures, or other issues.
Don't hesitate to reach out to the student — encourage them to talk to their academic dean.
Academic deans have access to a wide a range of support resources for these students — from simple supportive counseling and advice, to peer advising and tutoring, to guidance on managing time and studying effectively.
Kristen M. Rivers
1451 Fitzpatrick Center (FCIEMAS)
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Ruby Nell Carpenter
121 Hudson Hall
110 Hudson Hall