Graduate Teaching Assistant Guidelines

SUPPORT
Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA’s) and Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA’s) are offered by the Department. 

A GTA position covers up to 10 credits of tuition.

The standard level of GTA support is 20 hours/week.

The standard GTA teaching assignment is four two-hour laboratory sections or equivalent.

Support for MS candidates will be limited to four semesters, excluding summers. GTA support will only be available to MS candidates for their first two calendar years in the program, independent of the number of semesters they have been supported.

To apply for a GTA position, complete the GTA application form below:

GTA application form (PDF)

Summer semester compensation is controlled by the graduate school.

GETTING STARTED
International students must pass the SPEAK test administered by the Center for Teaching, Learning and Faculty Development to be eligible for a GTA position.

All students must attend the GTA training program offered by the Center for Teaching , Learning and Faculty Development and the ECE Department’s GTA Workshop to be eligible for a GTA position. All GTAs must also complete ED5100 during their first year as a GTA.

Please see Gina in the ECE office (EERC 121) to be set up on payroll.
See Michele in the ECE office (EERC 121) for supplies.

A GTA must be enrolled for a minimum of 9 credits, except in summer when the minimum is 1 research credit or 1 course. All summer GTAs must be enrolled for at least 1 credit.


CLASS OR LABORATORY PREPARATION

Meet periodically as specified by the professor(s) in charge to discuss:

  • Course Outline
  • Lab Experiments
  • Homework Assignments
  • Examinations
  • Make-Up Procedures
  • Grading
  • Pre-Lab Procedures

Perform each assigned laboratory experiment yourself before the class meets.  This will ensure your ability to answer any questions students may have concerning the lab.

You must follow, as closely as possible, the prescribed program in each course.

Check all the lab equipment before the lab begins. After the lab is over, make sure all the equipment is accounted for and either put away neatly or restored to its original position in the laboratory. The laboratory doors, cabinets, etc., should be locked at all times when the laboratory is not in use unless otherwise specified.

LABORATORY PROCEDURE
Safety and good lab practices should be constantly emphasized. Your course instructor will provide you with suggestions, which may include handing out “Safety Practices to be Observed in the Laboratories of the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering”.

During the first lab meeting, the students should be informed of the grading policy. This is your first and best opportunity to set expectations. The professor in charge of the course will provide you with this policy. This must include a definition of and the penalty for cheating. Refer students to the Academic Honesty Link on the lab web site – show the video on the first day of class.

Any student repeating a course with a laboratory must repeat the laboratory as well as the recitation to pass the course.

No lab instructor should leave the lab unattended for long periods of time while experiments are being performed. If it is necessary to leave for more than five minutes, a qualified stand-in should be found.

You must maintain an accurate record of student attendance.

The specified experiments for course are not to be changed, nor should any parts be omitted without the consent of the professor in charge. Of course, suggestions for improvements are always welcome.

Short weekly quizzes (perhaps 10 minutes long) may be given on the previous weeks experiments. These quizzes, along with a lab final (if given), should enter into establishing the final lab grade. Check with the Professor in charge of the course.

It is quite important to inform students the following week if their lab report was not turned in or if they are delinquent in any other way. Provide timely feedback on student progress.

Do not sign any cards to add, change sections, etc., for any student. Refer them to the ECE Advising office, EERC 131.

Announce that any student enrolled in your lab, who is still enrolled in the course after the last day to drop without charge, will be billed for the lab even if they drop the course.

Inform your students that eating and/or drinking is prohibited in all laboratories and computer area.

GRADING PROCEDURES

The grading procedures for each laboratory is determined by the faculty coordinator for the course. Grades in general should include performance in the lab, hand-in material from work done at home, attendance, short tests and possibly a lab final examination. The faculty coordinator will provide you with additional guidance.

A legible grade book should be kept and turned into the ECE office upon termination of employment. This book should include a complete record of each student’s performance in class with notations that will enable someone else at a later time to interpret that record.

The final lab grades are due on or before the time the final course exam is given. Always be prepared to justify the grades you give. You will receive grade sheets from the Office of Student Records and Registration. You will assign grades in consultation with the lab coordinator. Do not depart the local area until your grades are properly turned in.

Students should turn in their work in the laboratory, and all graded reports and other materials should be returned to the student in the same way. Laboratory Reports are to be returned to the students in the next week. It is your responsibility to grade reports promptly. If, for some reason students cannot turn in materials in the lab, tell them to use your mailbox on the 7th floor.  Also, if you wish to hand out information or return graded work (this would most likely occur at the end of the term) you should do so using one of the open slots in the 7th floor mailbox area. DO NOT ASK THE SECRETARIES TO HAND MATERIALS TO THE STUDENTS, AND DO NOT PILE THINGS IN THE HALLS.

Laboratory grades may NOT be posted outside your door. Do not post grades or leave piles of graded work for students to browse through. Refer to FERPA:    http://www.admin.mtu.edu/em/osrr/privacy/

Keep a record of student attendance. You must verify that students attending your lab are enrolled in your section. Occasionally students may request to work in your section to make up work from other sections, you may allow this.

TEACHING HINTS
Treat the students with respect. Be polite to them. Avoid sarcasm. Don’t lapse into a vernacular or obscene language or profanity. You have an obligation to teach the students the proper mode of expression. Be precise, concise and technically correct in your speech and demand the same of the students.

You are in a position of power, so avoid any appearance of abusing that power. Do not ask any of your students for a date.

Respect the lab equipment you use and make sure the student treats the equipment with respect.

If you do not understand the theory of what you are teaching, you should seek faculty guidance. You should never go to class unprepared and uncertain of the theory upon which that class is based. You should strive to keep well ahead of the class.

Never try to bluff the students. If you don’t know the answer, say so. But get the answer before you see the students again and make it a point to bring up the subject.

If a lab experiment that students are doing does not work properly, do not imply that it doesn’t matter. Impress upon the students the need for careful analysis, laboratory skill and troubleshooting technique.

Continuously practice and preach safety. Do not tolerate unsafe practice.

OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES
GTAs MUST be on campus beginning with the first week of the semester except for the fall, when they need to be here for the week prior to the start of the semester. You are expected to remain on campus until your last lab section meets and your grades are turned in. Michele will NOT accept grade sheets without the lab coordinator’s initials.

All GTAs are expected to meet their classes suitably dressed, well groomed and on time.

No laboratories are to be canceled, except by the professor in charge of the course. If you know in advance that you are unable to meet your laboratory, you must find a substitute and inform the professor in charge of the course. In an emergency, notify the ECE office that you are unable to meet your laboratory.

All GTAs are expected to check their mailbox and email at least once a day.

You are requested to reserve at least four hours a week for consultation with students having difficulties. The times selected for consultation should be announced to each section at the first class meeting and also posted on your office door.

Be sure to clearly specify all due dates for lab reports, etc., and also specify the penalty for late or missing material. This should be done well in advance of the due date.

All GTAs should ascertain the location of power sources, circuit breakers, fuses, etc., pertaining to the efficient operation of the lab prior to the lab meeting.

What is the status of my financial aid?

For Fall semester admissions, the offers of financial aid are made throughout April and sometimes into May. If you do not hear from us that probably means that we are not prepared to offer you financial aid at this time. However, we keep your application on file just in case an opening develops or we receive funds to hire additional graduate students. In that case, we will contact you for your availability. This can happen at any time during the year including the possibility of starting in the Spring semester.

What are my chances of getting financial aid?

The offers of financial aid depend on several factors including GRE/TOEFL scores, personal/phone interviews, previous research/industrial/teaching experience, area of concentration, department needs and the financial factors. Competition for teaching and research assistantships is always very keen and admitted students are always encouraged to find other sources of support including personal/family funds. Several students start their graduate education based on personal funds and later find some form of financial support including assistantships and on-campus employment though clearly, it can not be guaranteed.

What are the minimum GRE and other requirements for admissions?

There are no set minimum requirements. The offers of graduate admission depend on several factors including previous coursework and performance therein, previous research/industrial experience, GRE/TOEFL scores, recommendation letters, area of concentration and the department needs. You may apply to either the MS or the PhD program though requirements for admission to the latter are obviously much higher.

Visit the Graduate School for a listing of requirements.