Appendix B TA Reference Sheet: Resources and Regulations
Your job as a teaching assistant assigned to a mathematics class is to help the instructor teach and to help the students learn.
Exactly what this means will depend on the class and the instructor. This document attempts to outline general department policies and College regulations that apply to all TAs, as well as to pinpoint some resources and contacts that might be useful to you.
Subsection B.1 Department Policy
- Gaining experience as a teaching assistant is part of the requirements for the degree.
- Every graduate student who is not yet advanced to candidacy as of the beginning of fall term is given a teaching assistant assignment during two quarters of that academic year.
- TA assignments are made by the Graduate Program Representative. Graduate students may make requests, which will be considered along with all the other factors in making assignments.
- A TA assignment should generally take from 8 to 12 hours per week, on average, including preparation time.
- The role of a TA complements those of course instructor and homework grader.
- Teaching assistants are acting on the behalf of the department and, as such, should maintain the highest standards of professionalism.
- The Department Reference Guide contains information about the conduct of courses with TAs.
Subsection B.2 College Policy
This is a small selection of items of College policy a teaching assistant should be aware of.
No action to resolve a suspected honor code violation can be taken by any individual instructor (or teaching assistant.)
Interpretation: It is appropriate for you to give feedback to students about what behavior is or is not consistent with the honor code, but make sure you understand the professor's expectations (e.g., how much collaboration on homework is acceptable) before you do so. If you suspect an honor code violation, the department expects you to inform the course instructor. It is the instructor's responsibility to decide what further steps, if any, should be taken.
Please read the statement of the Honor Principle, which can be found in numerous places, including the Graduate Student Handbook. A quote from that document: “In the presence of an undoubted violation of the Honor Principle, to stand by and do nothing is to threaten the spirit and effectiveness of the principle.”
Link to the The Honor Principle.
Accommodations for students with disabilities, and for students with other commitments (ranging from football practice to physics lab), are determined by the instructor.
Interpretation: This means you are off the hook, in most cases; refer students with questions to the instructor. An exception is when students want you to accommodate their schedule conflicts with tutorials. This is still ultimately up to the instructor, but as you are seen as the tutorial authority, you should be as helpful as you can. You can refer the student to the instructor's office hours, or if the tutorial schedule is inconvenient for many students, you can offer to talk to the instructor about changing it. If the instructor wants you to hold office hours (this is not usually part of a TA's job, but occasionally it may be) then you can try to adjust your hours to students' schedules.
College faculty members should not disclose student education records to any unauthorized person.
Interpretation: This means you must not give information about students that you acquire as a TA — this includes such things as grades, progress, conduct, your assessment of mathematical ability, and even schedules — to anybody except the student him or herself, the course instructor, and other instructors and TAs who legitimately should have this information to do their jobs.
Parents are not on the list of people to whom you should give information. Students are adults, and not all parents are entitled to have access to confidential information. You can be friendly and polite and offer to have the instructor contact them.
If you contemplate giving information about students to anyone else (for example, sometimes contacting a class dean is appropriate), talk to the course instructor first.
Graduate students who are fully supported (a full tuition scholarship and a full stipend) cannot receive additional payment from Dartmouth College for services rendered and cannot accept employment outside the College while enrolled. Any exception must have the written approval of the graduate student's advisor, the Graduate Program Committee, and the Dean of Graduate Studies.
Interpretation: In particular, you may not be paid for individual tutoring.
There are also other reasons not to provide individual tutoring to students, particularly students in courses you are TAing. You should not provide time or resources to any student unless you offer the same to all similarly-circumstanced students in your course. Doing so is both unfair and unprofessional.
Sexual (and other) harassment is strictly prohibited.
Interpretation: Making social overtures to somebody who may feel pressured to accept them (because, for example, the person making the overtures helps grade the other's exams) can constitute harassment. Furthermore, professional standards require that you, as a teaching assistant, avoid both conflict of interest and the appearance of conflict of interest. This means that it is equally inappropriate for you to accept social overtures from students in your course as to make them.
An official definition of sexual or gender-based harassment can be found on the Title IX website. You should we well aware of the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies’s statement on consensual relations.
The Graduate Student Resource Guide contains many regulations that apply to graduate students.
Subsection B.3 Department Oversight
- The course instructor is responsible for supervising TAs and helping them as needed.
Any questions or difficulties, in particular difficulties between an instructor and a TA, can be brought to the Graduate Program Representative.
You can talk to the Advisor to Graduate Students — or the Graduate Program Representative — for advice on dealing with difficulties. The Graduate Program Representative is responsible for TA assignments, and is the person to go to if you want to request intervention of some sort, or would like to make suggestions about TA policy.
- Complaints from parents, inquiries about department policy, and anything else that should be handled on an official level can be referred to the Department Chair.
Subsection B.4 Information and Regulations online
If the link becomes broken, the current path starts from the main department page, under Quick Links to Intranet, select Department Documents. You will need an account on gauss to gain access to the intranet.
- (Undergraduate) Student Handbook.
- Graduate Student Council Resource Guide. See also the Student Support tab on the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies homepage.
- Faculty Handbook.
Subsection B.5 Resources Regarding Infrastructure
- Textbooks: Department administrative staff can give you a copy of the textbook for the course you are TAing. You will sign for the book and return it at the end of term.
Classroom Scheduling: The course instructor should have reserved a classroom for tutorials. If you want to schedule a classroom for an extra exam review session, for example, the official procedures are:
Classrooms can be scheduled by using the “Room Scheduling Links” option on BannerStudent. When the scheduling window opens, click on “CONF (Conferences and Events Office) Virtual EMS.” Along the right-hand side of the screen, you can see all of the different categories of classroom sizes that can be reserved. Click on the size you are looking for, and then you can pick the specific classroom that you would like to reserve. Conferences and Events staff do not work on weekends. A minimum of 24 weekday hours is required to process a basic classroom scheduling. A minimum of fourteen (14) days are required for any room booking with AV, table rentals, or any additional support.
You can contact Conferences and Events at (603) 646-2923.
- Unlocking classrooms: If you show up for evening tutorial and find the room locked, either your department key or your ID card should get you in. If that doesn't work, you can contact Safety and Security (646-4000). Also, let your instructor know about the problem to get to the root cause.
Classroom problems: If the ceiling in your classroom is leaking, or there is another physical problem, ask the Department Administrator Tracy Moloney to e-mail Work Control.
For EMERGENCIES during the work day, call Work Control at 603-646-2508.
For OFF-HOUR EMERGENCIES, call the Troubleshooters at 603-646-2344 or Safety & Security at 604-646-4000.
Computer problems: If the computer in your classroom is broken, e-mail (using your phone if needed) the Department Administrator, Tracy Moloney.
For resolving problems of an immediate nature: Classroom Technology staff, are available for academic support from 8:00am through 8:00pm weekdays while the term is in session.
Audio visual systems are powered off automatically every night at 11:15 pm to ensure that the equipment is not left on for extended periods between uses.
Computers and laptops (setup for portable audio visual solutions) are scheduled to power on for 6:30am and powered off for 11:30pm Monday through Friday. All computers are powered off for the weekends.
Immediate audio visual help is available during class hours. Call 603-646-2999. A Class Tech, Classroom Specialist may be able to resolve the issue over the phone, or will be dispatched to your classroom location.
- Making copies: You can use the copiers in the math department (there are copiers on each floor of Kemeny) for copying connected with your course. If the copier is malfunctioning, tell the Administrative staff.
- Other problems: If you have other problems and don't know who to ask, start with the department administrative staff; they are likely to be able to point you in the right direction.
Subsection B.6 Resources Regarding Students
- General Information: All kinds of information about resources available to undergraduates can be found in the (Undergraduate) Student HandbookStudent Handbook.
Student Accessibility Services: Student Accessibility Services is located in the Collis Center. Any student who suspects they may have a disability and wants to be tested, who wants to have a documentation of their disability (learning or otherwise) placed on file, or who needs other information, should be referred to this office.
Any questions about accommodating disabilities in the math course you are TAing should be referred to the course instructor.
Extra help: A student who needs more individual tutoring on a regular basis than evening tutorial and office hours can supply can find an individual tutor through the Tutor Clearinghouse via the Academic Skills Center in the 224 Baker. Because there are a limited number of tutors, students should request tutors as soon as possible. For students on financial aid, tutoring is available at no charge.
The Academic Skills Center also can help students with strategies for organizing their studying, taking exams, dealing with test anxiety or anxiety about participating in class, and other such things.
If you are concerned about a student's immediate health or safety, call Safety & Security, 646-4000 (non-emergency number) or in an emergency call 911. See Dartmouth Safety and Security's Emergency Procedures for more information.
Subsection B.7 Emergency Contact Information
Emergency Phone numbers:
- 911 (Police, Fire, etc)
- 646-2508 (Emergency Work Control)
Subsection B.8 Quasi-Emergency Contact Information
- 646-4000 (Safety and Security)
- 646-2999 (Classroom Technology Services)