TA Training

Being a Teaching Assistant means being an important first point of contact for students in your course.

Each doctoral (PhD) student is required to be a TA in two courses. Teaching is a skill, which will grow and develop during your service as a Teaching Assistant (TA).

To help you succeed, Duke Engineering provides training for teaching assistants and helpful materials.

Download training presentation

In Classroom and Lab, the TA Sets the Tone

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 help.

Your Role

Job Requirements

  • 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

Typical Duties

  • 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

Assignments 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.

When a Student Needs Help

A TA will often be the first person to notice when a student is getting overwhelmed by personal life, grade pressures, or other issues.

Do not hesitate to reach out — encourage a talk with an 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.


Contact an Academic Dean