Selection, Training, Evaluation

In 1991, the UW System adopted policy 91-13, the Selection, Training, and Evaluation of Teaching Assistants.  Campus and College policy regarding TAs, some of which is a response to the System policy, is detailed here.  Departments are expected to keep up-to-date information on their own policies and procedures on file in the Dean’s Office.

Advertising Positions

According to the most recent TA contract, departments employing or anticipating the employment of Teaching Assistants or Program/Project Assistants must maintain.

  • Information about procedures for applying for Teaching and Program/Project Assistantships including the name or location of an office where inquiries or applications may be made.
  • A listing of courses that typically have Teaching Assistants assigned or are expected to have Teaching  Assistants assigned.  This list should be updated to include special  course opportunities that may become available.  A separate list of summer session course possibilities should be posted if applicable.

Selection Criteria

Departments employing teaching assistants are expected to establish appointment criteria for such positions. Copies of these criteria, as well as any changes to the criteria, should be sent to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Sarah Pfatteicher.  Questions regarding the development of selection criteria should be addressed to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Training

Training of TAs in CALS is the responsibility of the coordinators of the courses to which the TAs are assigned.  Course coordinators may elect to send their TAs to the joint TA training workshops offered by CALS and the College of Engineering the week before instruction begins.  The New Educators’ Orientation (NEO) is a two day workshop for new TAs or those who have been TAs, but not in CALS or COE before.  The Teaching Improvement Program (TIP) is a one-day program for returning TAs.  TIP is held concurrently with and shares the keynote address with the second day of NEO.

CALS TAs may also attend the College of Letters and Science Teaching Assistant Training.

Under the most recent collective bargaining agreement, completion of diversity, affirmative action, and harassment training is required for teaching assistants to progress to the “experienced” pay rate.  This training is provided jointly by the Office for Equity and Diversity and the Academic Personnel Office; comparable training programs may also be offered at the departmental level.  Also, NEO includes a workshop on Issues of Diversity in Teaching and Learning, which satisfies the diversity and harassment training requirement.

Non-Native English Speakers

UW System policy requires that non-native English speakers demonstrate proficiency in spoken English before they are assigned classroom duties as teaching assistants.  Each department is required to have procedures in place for ensuring that teaching assistants have demonstrated such proficiency. Departments may elect to have potential teaching assistants complete the SPEAK test and/or may establish other mechanisms (extensive interviews, panels, delivery of a lecture, etc.) for assessing such proficiency. The offer of a guarantee of long-term support to a non-native English speaking student should be made contingent on demonstration of the requisite level of spoken English proficiency.

The Program in English as a Second Language (ESL) offers special services for international teaching assistants. In addition to regular courses, the ESL Program conducts the International Teaching Assistant (ITA) Training Program, a modular training course for potential and current international TAs. This course focuses on both language improvement and teaching skills, with four videotaped presentations. The ESL Program also provides ITA Support Services for non-native English speaking TAs interested in improving their teaching performance. This service includes classroom visits by an expert observer; private and confidential analysis with strategies for improvement; and individualized follow-up. The ESL Program also administers the SPEAK Test on a regular basis. Contact the ESL Program at 263-3780 or consult the web site at http://www.english.wisc.edu/esl/index.html for further information.

Evaluation

Evaluation of TA performance is the responsibility of the department that employs the TA.