5 Great Ways to Communicate With Your TA
Most college underclassmen will take several classes in a large hall with a professor who gives lectures and designs the curriculum but who doesn’t necessarily grade assignments. In this case, a series of teaching assistants will work to design tests and assignments and do the majority of the grading. It’s critical for students to be in contact with their TA on a regular basis because they’re in charge of the student’s final grade. Also, since they write many of the lesson plans, they will know how to answer complex questions and help students solve academic problems.
1. Important information on the syllabus
The first thing students should do is read through the entire syllabus. This document gives students a ton of information about how to communicate with their TA, who the TA is, and what responsibilities they have. Each lecture class is different, and some TA’s are there simply to assist the professor with clerical work while others do everything outside of the first lecture. The syllabus will also let students know who their TA is, sometimes organized by student number or last name, as well as how best to get in touch with them. Some TA’s exclusively use their school email while others prefer students forward queries to their personal email account. All of this information is conveniently found in each class syllabus.
2. Meeting with your TA
Students are encouraged to meet with their TA in person so they can put a face with a name. Most students don’t bother to get in touch in person, and so they become one student out of 100 who sends an email here in there. Students who take the time to make an appointment are more likely to be taken seriously and given participation points if they’re available. If the TA has ultimate authority over student grades, it’s extra important they know which students are really serious about learning. Each TA will have a different schedule that will change from semester to semester as they are Masters or Ph.D. students themselves. Underclassmen are encouraged to find out their TA’s availability at the beginning of the term (READ: 5 Ways to Have a Well-Rounded Experience on Campus).
3. Online communication with your TA
Much of the student’s communication with their TA will occur online. Simple communication will take place by email but today’s teaching assistants may also use more cutting edge technology to keep in touch with larger classes. Students are encouraged to inquire about different forms of digital communication that their TA may be implementing into the curriculum.
4. Clearing up grading discrepancies
Once in a while, there will be a basic clerical error that students need to clear up with the TA. Students should always be polite and professional when inquiring about something of that matter so as to maintain a good rapport. Students who wish to have their assignment re-graded should refer to their syllabus for the professor’s policy. This is a tricky topic because a re-graded assignment may end up receiving an even lower grade than it originally did.
5. Working with multiple TA’s
Each student will be assigned a TA who works with a part of the class. However, sometimes TA’s work as a team helping all of the students together and some courses will have a lead TA. Students are encouraged to be mindful of who they are communicating with and make sure information is getting forwarded to the correct person. The first thing students should do when they start a new class is finding out who their TA is and how long it takes them to return an email. This will set the tone and timeline for communication for the entire semester.
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