Departments and programs are encouraged to develop and publicize minimum qualifications for UGTAs. Normally, at a minimum, students will have completed the course in which they will TA with a very high grade (usually an A). They will also have outstanding communication and interpersonal skills. Units may also consider class status, overall GPA, and other factors. Units may design a formal application process or decide to operate strictly on an invitational basis. In either case, it is a good idea, in the interest of equity, to articulate minimum qualifications.
The sponsoring faculty member should provide students with initial training and ongoing mentoring both on the specific content of the course and on pedagogical theory and practice more generally. Depending on the situation, this guidance may be more or less formal. When students receive academic credit for the experience (e.g., through Undergraduate Teaching Experience courses), faculty members should meet regularly with students and engage them in academic work (reading, writing, reflection) in addition to the teaching experience.
The Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning through Research (CATLR) is willing to provide workshops and inquiry groups both for faculty working with undergraduate teaching assistants and for the undergraduate teaching assistants themselves. Hilary Schuldt, Associate Director of CATLR, can provide more information; you may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faculty members are responsible for ensuring that their UGTAs understand university regulations and federal law regarding student privacy and confidentiality. UGTAs should be made aware of the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and introduced to the relevant policies on the Northeastern University Policies Page. Suggested general guidelines include the following:
Units should ask students to sign a confidentiality form. Northeastern’s confidentiality agreement form may be found here.
Faculty are ultimately responsible for grading in their courses. Departments and programs are encouraged to develop a clear articulation of the conditions under which it is proper for UGTAs to participate in grading. Any evaluation provided by UGTAs would be closely supervised by faculty members to ensure fairness and consistency and should be confined largely or entirely to objective or, alternatively, strictly formative or low-stakes assessments. In most cases, UGTAs’ evaluations should be submitted to the faculty member, who will review the assessments before handing student work back.
UGTAs should not, under any circumstances, be involved in romantic relationships with students in the course for which they are assisting. They should report to their faculty members any potential conflicts of interest resulting from personal relationships, past or present, with other students. Faculty members should make students aware of sexual harassment and non-fraternization policies, which may be found on the Northeastern University Policies Page.
For questions and additional information, please contact Laura Green, Associate Dean for Teaching, Learning, and Experiential Education.