Policies regarding GTAs and TAs (School of Interactive Computing)

This policy document is intended for two groups: 1) faculty requesting GTA support for their courses, 2) PhD students admitted Fall 2011 and later whose degree requirement thus serving twice as a GTA.

Basic policy for faculty – One GTA or grader per 25 students, when needed to provide a superior educational experience for students and to leverage faculty time.

Basic policy for PhD students – You are expected to complete one GTA by the end of your third year of study, and the second by the end of your fifth year. 

 

Concerning PhD GTAs

As described in the IC Doctoral Academic Policies and Procedures, PhD students covered by the GTA requirement are expected to complete one GTA by the end of the third year and the second by the end of the fifth year. (Applies to PhD students entering in August 2011 or later).

If a PhD student at the start of their third year, in consultation with their advisor, does not have a plan to GTA in the third year, they may be assigned to GTA a course for which they are qualified and that does not have a PhD GTA. This applies also to the fifth year.

Serving as a GTA satisfies the 2-semester requirement only if course enrollment is at least 25, unless prior approval has been given by the faculty member overseeing GTA assignments. See the FAQs for further restrictions on what courses can count toward the requirement.

Students doing a GTA for the first time must simultaneously take and pass GTA Preparation - CETL 8000 - COC; for the second time, Special Topics - CETL 8801 - COC. Exemptions from taking these two TA classes will be granted only in exceptional circumstances (such as someone with many years of full time teaching experience), and are at the discretion of the PhD coordinator. Exemptions are not granted from the TA requirement, and only teaching or TAing for IC during the two-term academic year fulfills the requirement.

PhD GTAs are preferably used to support graduate rather than undergraduate courses. 

Generally only one PhD GTA per course. Additional support is generally provided by MS or BS students.

PhD GRA students are paid to GTA with the expectation of either 18 or 20 hours of work each week (18 hours pre-quals, 20 hours post-quals, including exam week) - which is thus the maximum number of hours that a PhD student fulfilling a GTA requirement can be expected to work in their GTA role.

PhD students admitted prior to 2011 (when the two GTA requirement took effect) who have not opted into the requirement by serving as a GTA twice while being paid as a GRA will only in exceptional circumstances be hired by IC as a GTA. They will be paid at the 37.5% level, and are expected to work no more than 15 hours per week, including exam week.

Any questions about this process should be directed to Renee Jamieson: mailto:renee.jamieson@cc.gatech.edu.

 

Concerning MS GTAs

MS GTAs are employed as an MS I, with a stipend per month for 4 months, plus tuition waiver. The stipend rates are reviewed and adjusted by the school each year.  The student is responsible for fees and any tuition supplement, such as for the MS-HCI degree. They are expected to work no more than 15 hours per week during the semester, including exam week.

 

Concerning BS (undergrad) Graders

BS graders are paid on a sliding scale of $7.75 an hour plus $0.65 more for each previous course TA’d, for up to 15 hours per week. The course instructor signs a biweekly time sheet recording actual hours worked.

BS Graders are hired via email to Monica Sweat, sweat@cc.gatech.edu.

 

Concerning Conflicts of Interest in Grading

It is important that TA’s and graders work together with the course instructor to avoid conflicts of interest during grading. A grader or TA has a conflict of interest in grading any family member, close friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, or small-group partner on projects in other classes. This is not an exhaustive list of possible conflicts of interest. When in doubt, it is best to avoid the perceived conflict. In the case where there are two or more TA’s or graders for a course, they should re-balance who grades which student. If there is just one TA or grader for the course, it is the responsibility of the course instructor to grade those students for which there is a conflict of interest. These guidelines apply to all TA’s and graders, whether they are undergraduates, MS students or PhD students. It is the responsibility of all those involved in teaching and grading to explicitly discuss potential conflicts.

 

Note to Faculty

The best way for you to ensure high-quality GTA/TA help is to directly recruit students. Undergrad courses are often staffed with undergrads that previously earned A’s in the course or MS students who earned A’s in the graduate version of the course or took a comparable course at their undergraduate school. 

Be careful about making final commitments if there is uncertainty about the course enrollment! Enrollment refers to enrollment after DROP/ADD is over, Friday of the first week of classes. Remember that enrollment often drops during the first week - students often register for more classes than they plan to take, or may drop your course if the wait list for another course clears.

Monica Sweat has a sign-up mechanism for undergrad students interested in TAing specific undergrad courses. If you use undergrad TAs and want help from Monica in finding TAs, you should let her  know at least one month before the end of the previous semester.

When you speak with potential undergrad graders, emphasize that they will not always be called upon to work the maximum number of hours per week, so they should not expect to earn the maximum amount each week. You should not automatically approve 15 hours each week.

 

If your enrollment is close to a break-point for an additional GTA or grader, it may be possible to have a grader for a number of hours for the entire semester that is less than the maximum. Talk with the faculty member overseeing GTA assignments.

Elaboration in the Form of FAQS

Q: If a student has been supported by IC for two (or more) semesters (and hence has been a GTA for those semesters) and then moves into a GRA position, does the student now need to do two additional GTAs?

A: No. The degree requirement is to GTA twice. Period. The degree requirement does not say that you have to GTA twice while being a GRA.

Q: If student has already done two GTAs and is now being supported by IC because the advisor has run out of funds, is student expected to GTA?

A: Yes

Q: What if the advisor’s funding for a student runs out after 2 or 3 years, so the student has 2 or more years to go. The advisor may have funding in a new area in which the student is not interested. What happens?

A: This is the joint responsibility of both the advisor and student. The student may have to GRA on the advisor’s new project while completing their dissertation, rather than being a GTA supported by IC.

Q: Must the classes for which a student GTAs be taught by an IC faculty member during the academic year?

A: Yes, effective fall semester 2014. The class must be in IC, because it is IC that is providing the back-up funding for the student. In this context, think of GTAing an IC course as paying the insurance policy premium to guarantee student funding if the advisor cannot support the student. Thus, if your advisor has a fractional appointment in IC and does not teach IC courses with an enrollment of 25 or more, you will need to GTA courses not taught by your advisor. Summer school GTAing does not count for a similar reason, because IC is not financially involved in summer school payment of faculty or GTAs. MOOM GTAing does not count for the same reason.

Q: May a student GTA for two courses during the same semester?

A: No, effective fall semester 2014. The time demands of managing two courses, each with 25 or more students, places an unreasonable burden on the GTA, and can be unfair to students in the two classes by spreading the GTA out “too thin”.

Q: If student is not supported as a GRA and has to GTA, what is the stipend?

A: Same as it would be otherwise. 45% prior to passing quals, 50% after that. For students admitted prior to the 2011 start of the two GTA requirement who have NOT opted into the requirement, 37.5%

Q: During what years is it recommended to GTA?

A: As per the School of IC’s “Doctoral Academic Policies and Procedures” – a document approved by the faculty – the first should be completed no later than during the third year, and the second no later than the fifth year. If there are difficulties in so doing, then the advisor should have a prior discussion with the faculty member having oversight of GTA assignments.

Q: If a student successfully defends and is about to graduate but has not done the two GTAs, what happens?

A: Doing two GTAs is a degree requirement, so the student cannot graduate without having met this requirement.

Q: Student has NSF or other fellowship. Must student do the two GTAs?

A: Yes. Doing two GTAs is a degree requirement, so the student cannot graduate without having met this requirement.

Q: What if a student needs to GTA, but no one wants the student as a GTA - maybe the student did a bad job on their first GTA, maybe English is a problem?

A: This is first and foremost the responsibility of the student’s advisor. In most cases the student GTAs with the advisor. If not, the advisor works with the student to find a suitable GTA position. In the limit, the School assigns the student to GTA a specific course. The advisor, in consultation with the student and the faculty member in charge of GTA assignments, will have first taken steps to ensure that the student has remedied whatever the issues might have been.

Q: Do students normally GTA for a course taught by their advisor.

A: Yes, this is the norm but is not required. A student might benefit by GTAing some other course.

Q: Are there limits on the class size of the class being GTAd in order for it to count?

A: Yes, the size must be 25 or more unless explicit prior approval for a smaller class has been given.

Q: Can a student graduate if they have TA'd twice, but have failed one or both of the

mandatory TA classes?

A: No. If a student fails one of the courses, they must retake it and pass in order to graduate.

Q: Does being 'instructor of record' count as one of the TAships for this requirement?

A: Yes, teaching a course rather than being GTA satisfies one GTA requirement.

Q: Would a student who is either a GTA or an instructor of record who has considerable prior teaching experience in high school, college or other venues still have to take the appropriate first/second TA class?

A: Almost certainly yes. Exemptions from taking the TA classes will be granted only in exceptional circumstances (such as someone with many years full time teaching experience), and are at the discretion of the PhD coordinator. Exemptions are not granted from the TA requirement.

Q: Is there an expectation that the TA provide at least one lecture to the class? If so, should the professor be expected to watch and critique the lecture or can it be, for example while the professor is traveling.

A: This is not required, but some faculty may choose to do so, and GTAs should request to do should if they want to have this experience

Q: Does TAing an undergrad course count? Is there a preference, at least, for TAing grad courses?

A: Yes it does count. There is a preference that PhD students GTA grad courses, since MS students often are able to GTA undergrad courses. But this is not an absolute.