Important information for TA’s
Welcome to all new Political Science graduate students. We want to take this opportunity to introduce you to some basic information on Teaching Assistantships at Carleton. Here are some basic considerations to keep in mind.
- Not all of you have received TAs. Generally, if you are going to receive a TA, it is awarded to you as part of your admission package. It is very unlikely that someone will get a regular TA if they are not awarded one on admission. This is dictated by the rather complex rules that govern Carleton’s TA allocation and assignment systems.
- To the extent that is possible for someone to get a TA who did not initially get one, it would happen in one of the following ways. First, the Department may decide to make a case for additional TA awards if there is a shortfall of people with awards actually showing up. Students can do nothing to impact this individually; it is in the hands of departmental management. Second, any student without a regular TA award could put their name into the Outside of Priority System in the TA Management System through Carleton Central. This is entirely within the control of the individual student. However, it should be noted that entering your name into this only rarely leads to a TA.
- If you do have a TA award, note that you are expected to do a small number of hours of TA training every term. This will be explained further at the initial TA orientation session that will be held early in the Fall Term. While the Department does provide a little bit of training, we are increasingly relying on the offerings of the Educational Development Centre (EDC) to meet TA training needs. Please familiarize yourself with the offerings of the EDC.
- TA assignments are normally solidified at the beginning of each term. Certain assignments are not final until classes are underway. Teaching Assistant duties begin in either the second or third week of a term, depending on the class. You will receive messages from the TA Management System about assignment specifics.
- One of the most important things a TA can do is make sure they are communicating with the instructor or instructors to which they are assigned. A TA must agree on their duties with the instructor, and this is recorded in the TA Management System. Above and beyond that, it is important for the TA to maintain regular communication with the instructor(s) to which they are assigned.
- Another important thing that a TA can do at an early point is to fill out their profile and preferences in the TA Management System in Carleton Central. You should do this as soon as you can and update it at the end of every term. This provides various university administrators and managers a sense of the types of courses in which you would like to TA. One specific point to keep in mind here is that higher levels of the university do allocate Political Science students to other units in the university. For example, if you have background in a field like economics or legal studies, you may find that you are allocated to serve as a TA in unit other than Political Science. If a TA is intensely resistant to being allocated to another unit, they should make this very clear in their TA Profile comments at an early point.
- TAs should keep in mind that the information in the TA Management System does, under most circumstances, enable people who make your assignments to see what your own graduate class schedule is. Thus, it is relatively easy to make your assignments with your own course obligations in mind. However, we do not know about other constraints on your schedule, and cannot generally take them into account in making your assignments. Furthermore, given the limited TA resources available, the Department cannot make extensive adjustments for other aspects of your commitments (jobs, personal obligations, out of town obligations, etc.) So, do not expect much if any flexibility in this area.
- If you have any TA problems that do not seem to be addressed by normal procedures, you should contact Sandy Herbert, the Political Science Department Administrator. Depending on the nature of the problem, she may call upon the Associate Chair, Professor Hans-Martin Jaeger.
We look forward to seeing you at the Graduate TA Orientation. For those of you have TAs, we also look forward to seeing you at the Fall TA Orientation.
TA Support & Resources: Educational Development Centre (EDC)
TA Mentorship Program
The Mentorship program is designed by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs (FGPA) to support all Teaching Assistants (TAs), especially those new to Carleton, in the performance of their duties. It complements the already ongoing support programs by the Educational Development Centre (EDC). Our goal in the department is to provide incoming TAs (both new and returning) with support in all aspects of the important work of teaching and learning that they perform with undergraduate students. We also wish to establish learning communities within the department which allow TAs to achieve teaching success and instill a sense of confidence and job satisfaction.
For questions regarding TA support, please contact:
Teaching Development Associate
Educational Development Centre
Tel: 613.520.2600 ext. 8560
TA related questions in the Department of Political Science
Political Science Associate Chair
Department of Political Science
Tel: 613.520.2600 x 2286