- TA Supervision & Feedback Overview
- Class Observation & Feedback
- End-of-Semester Evaluation of Overall Performance
- Teacher/Course Evaluation
- Mandatory Ongoing Training for TAs
- Recommended TA Mentoring System
The training and mentoring of TAs is a great investment in their 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 professionals and continuously 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 requires the following supervision and feedback measures be performed:
- Class Observations for Types 1-3 TAs
- End-of-Semester Evaluations for all TAs
- Teacher/Course Evaluations for Types 1-2 TAs
- Ongoing Training for all TAs
To document the above supervision and feedback, The Graduate School recommends that departments maintain a file for each of their TAs containing copies of the Observation and Evaluation Forms, Teacher/Course Evaluations, and attendance records at college or departmental trainings.
In addition, The Graduate School collects a copy of the TA Class Observation/Feedback Form for all Types 1-3 TAs and the End-of-Semester Evaluation Form for all TAs, and we record completion of these in the TA Credentials Database. Observation and Evaluation Forms should be submitted to The Graduate School by no later than February 1 for Fall terms or June 1 for Spring terms to hold for review and SACS documentation.
NOTE: During Fall 2021, due to concerns about the Delta variant, we will allow flexibility and tech-enabled alternatives for faculty observers, such as Zooming into in-person classes or pre-arranging Echo or Owl recordings of in-person classes, as long as the process allows timely and useful feedback to TAs.
The TA Class Observation is a single snapshot of the TA’s performance in a single class period. 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. Feedback should be provided to the TA and documentation to The Graduate School using one of the Observation Forms explained below.
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. In large classes with multiple sections, faculty should assist 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 (in-person, online, and hybrid). 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.
Digital Observation Form (preferred)
The Graduate School has developed a digital form for this purpose, the Digital Class Observation Form, which we recommend using to document the observation of the class. (A PDF preview of the entire form is available at the bottom of first screen.) The observer will be asked to enter the TA’s email address, and, once the form is submitted, a copy of the observation will automatically be emailed to both the observer and the TA. The TA is encouraged to respond to the observation, and a follow-up meeting is suggested.
Additionally, the form allows the observer to carbon copy up to three email addresses. This allows the observer to copy the Director of Graduate Studies, the Department Chair, the Department Administrator, the TA’s Supervisor, or whomever in the department maintains a file on the TA, in which a copy of this form should be saved. No matter who is carbon copied on the form, documentation goes to The Graduate School immediately upon submission.
PDF Observation Forms
In addition to the digital form, we still offer the older PDF forms, although we are phasing these out and highly encourage observers to use the above digital form if possible. If the department, or individual observers within the department, choose to use one of the PDF forms, these forms should:
- be either physically or digitally signed by both the observer and the TA
- collected by the department
- combined with the End-of-Semester Evaluation Forms
- saved as a single PDF
- emailed to Chad Gilpin by the submission deadline
Two PDF Observation/Feedback Forms are available below for use. Departments may also use these as templates to design their own form, provided it focuses on a single class or lab session.
The TA supervisor/coordinator should complete an End-of-Semester Evaluation for each TA (all Types). It should be a summative evaluation of the TA’s overall performance spanning the semester in the following areas, 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. This evaluation should be documented using one of the suggested methods below, and a copy should be included in the TA’s departmental file and submitted to The Graduate School.
Digital End-of-Semester Evaluation Form (preferred)
The Graduate School provides a digital form, the Digital End-of-Semester Evaluation Form, which we recommend for the purpose of documenting a TA’s overall performance. (A PDF preview of the entire form is available at the bottom of first screen.) The evaluator will be asked to enter the TA’s email address, and, once the form is submitted, a copy of the evaluation will automatically be emailed to both the evaluator and the TA. The TA is encouraged to respond to the evaluation, and a follow-up meeting is suggested.
Additionally, the form allows the evaluator to carbon copy up to three email addresses. This allows the evaluator to copy the Director of Graduate Studies, the Department Chair, the Department Administrator, or whomever in the department maintains a file on the TA, in which a copy of this form should be saved. No matter who is carbon copied on the form, documentation goes to The Graduate School immediately upon submission.
PDF End-of-Semester Evaluation Form
In addition to the digital form, we still offer the older PDF End-of-Semester Evaluation Form, although we are phasing this out and highly encourage evaluators to use the above online form if possible. If the department, or individual evaluators within the department, choose to use one of the PDF forms, these forms should:
- be either physically or digitally signed by both the evaluator and the TA
- collected by the department
- combined with the Observation Forms
- saved as a single PDF
- emailed to Chad Gilpin by the submission deadline
Departments may also use this form as a template to design their own form, or they may also choose to provide a narrative instead of the form. In either case, these documents should be collected by the department and combined with the other forms following the procedure above.
TCEs should be enabled via SAP/Course Instructor Management when you are assigning TAs to their courses. Further information and instructions on TCEs can be found here.
While The Graduate School strongly suggests copies of TAs’ TCEs be kept in a departmental file along with Observation and Evaluation Forms for the purposes of SACS scrutiny, we do NOT require TCEs be submitted to us.
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.)
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.