TA Supervision & Feedback Overview
Two sample Observation/Feedback Forms are available below for departmental use, in additon to an online option that will be available only during the COVID-19 pandemic. Departments may also use these as templates to design their own form, provided it focuses on a single class or lab session.
A sample TA Semester Evaluation Form is available below for departmental use. Departments may also choose to provide a narrative instead of a form.
TA Supervision & Feedback Detailed Information
The training and mentoring of TAs is a great investment in the TA's professional future. It is, moreover, the faculty's responsibility to ensure that undergraduate instruction is the highest quality possible. The system described below of faculty-TA interaction will help the University of Kentucky meet two central goals of graduate education: preparing future faculty and improving undergraduate instruction.
To fulfill the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC, or SACS for short) requirements and to foster a mechanism of structured departmental feedback to TAs, each semester The Graduate School collects a copy of the TA Class Observation/Feedback Form and the Semester Evaluation Form. Originals should be kept in the TA's departmental file, along with Teacher Course Evaluations.
TA Class Observation/Feedback Form (a snapshot to be conducted once each semester)
A faculty member in the program (one who holds a terminal degree in the discipline or a closely related discipline) must observe at least one class session of each TA (except Type 4) in the program once a semester. If the program is small (fewer than 10 TAs), the program’s designated TA coordinator (or course coordinator, lab supervisor, etc.) may serve as the observer; if the pool of TAs is large, numerous program faculty should assist. The Graduate School has developed a simple form for this purpose, the TA Class Observation Form, which should be used to document the observation of the class, discussed with, and signed by the TA. After reading and discussing the observation, the TA is encouraged to respond to the observation in the space allotted on the form and may continue his/her commentary on an attachment.
One copy of this form should be placed in the TA’s file in the department. In addition, the department should collect all observations and semester evaluations into a group and then scan and forward them as a single pdf attachment to Chad Gilpin no later than February 1 for Fall terms or June 1 for Spring terms to hold for review and SACS documentation.
Two Observation/Feedback Forms are available below for departmental use. Departments may also use these as templates to design their own form, provided it focuses on a single class or lab session.
In large classes with multiple sections, faculty must help the course coordinators with class observations. These faculty visits to TA instruction include discussion sections led by TAs under supervision of a course coordinator, lab sections under a lab supervisor, and independently taught sections of a course. TA instruction includes night courses and courses or sections held off campus; summer teaching by TAs; and courses in other media such as blackboard and other electronic delivery systems. TAs who assist directly in the classroom of a faculty member should be evaluated by him/her. TAs who are graders (and other Type 4s) are not observed but should be monitored by the supervisor for accuracy and consistency. Click here for the four TA Types and The Provost's Policy on TA Teaching Credentials.
TA Supervisor's End-of-Semester Evaluation of Overall Performance (to be conducted at the end of each semester)
The TA supervisor/coordinator should submit a semester-end evaluation of overall TA or lab assistant performance in the following areas for all TA Types, as applicable: reliability in group activities and in classroom; punctuality in assignments and grading; accuracy in presentation; knowledge of subject matter, and other items specific to the assignment. See below for a sample form. This evaluation should also be included in the TA's file and a copy submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School (submit at the same time as the Observation Forms as one pdf). Please keep this to one page if possible.
TA Semester Evaluation Form (use as is or adapt appropriately)
Department may also choose to provide a narrative instead of a form.
The third item in the TA's folio is the Teacher/Course Evaluation, if the TA's assignment is TCE eligible. Please make sure that each TA (Types 1 and 2 are required; Type 3 is optional) receives a TCE and that it is kept in the departmental file.
All three documents above should be kept in the student's departmental file for SACS scrutiny. The Graduate School needs only the first two items (Observation/Feedback Form and the End-of-Semester Performance Evaluation) for its files.
Mandatory Ongoing Training for TAs
Continuing TAs are required to attend departmental or college-level professional development activities each term they are employed, at least one of which should be held at or near the beginning of the term. TA Coordinators may ask the most experienced TAs to present on their own pedagogical experiences or best practices in the classroom, if they have been guided by faculty in that project. Coordinators may also combine this activity with other departments in related disciplines or with similar pedagogy. If your College is small, you may hold a College-wide activity. For Spring term, you can make this a 2-3 hour workshop for all TAs. The course organization meetings for multi-section courses would serve as such an activity if they have a pedagogical component and if all TAs are required to attend and attendance is recorded. Each TA, new and returning, is required to attend.
The beginning-of-semester in-service activity should be held separately from the department’s or college’s New TA Orientation. These activities usually occur consecutively and should be scheduled to coordinate with the dates of the University-wide TA Orientation conducted by The Graduate School.
In addition to the beginning-of-semester activity for all TAs, each program is required to hold at least one mandatory in-service training event for TAs—continuing and new—during the semester. Attendance should be required and recorded. For in-service training, some current practices will work, for example:
- special one-to-three-hour pedagogy courses, where they exist
- ongoing course meetings which give guidance in pedagogical problems (for all TAs, not just multi-section courses)
- one departmental event on teaching practices
- presentations by TAs themselves about their work, if faculty are present and have guided them in the presentation
- required attendance (required by the department) at two or more of the scheduled teaching-related workshops held by CELT, The Graduate School, or Presentation U. (We will provide attendance reports if requested in advance of the events.)
Recommended TA Mentoring System
Each TA should have at least one departmental faculty member to whom he/she can go for informal guidance and feedback. This mentor may or may not be the TA’s supervisor or course coordinator. The Graduate School recommends that colleges, departments, or programs establish and implement a set of guidelines for the roles and responsibilities of faculty mentors and the means of pairing them with TAs.
Questions? Contact Dr. Morris Grubbs (257-9725) in The Graduate School.