CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES GOVERNING RELATIONS BETWEEN FACULTY MEMBERS AND TEACHING OR RESEARCH ASSISTANTS

 

Teaching and Research Assistantships must be considered first, part of the professional training of a graduate student, and second, a source of livelihood.  As part of their professional training in preparation for a career in teaching, Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Graduate Teaching Fellows (GTFs) learn basic anthropological materials in a pedagogical context, learn how to teach, and how to deal with large numbers of students.  Similarly, Research Assistants (RAs) learn about research through participation in faculty projects.

 

Assistants are junior professionals and apprentice colleagues, as well as employees. At the same time an assistantship is a job, and the assistant is expected to complete the work in a professional, responsible, and timely manner.  Both parties share an obligation to strive to make an exemplary contribution in teaching a class or carrying out research and to form and maintain collegial relationships.

 

Relations between faculty members and their assistants should be governed by the Principles of Professional Responsibility formulated by the American Anthropological Association, which states: “Anthropologists should be candid, fair, and non-exploitative in their dealings with trainees and students….”

 

 

I.          GUIDELINES FOR TA, RA, AND FACULTY/INSTRUCTOR RESPONSIBILITIES

 

A.  General requirements

In order to serve as Teaching Assistants (TAs) or Graduate Teaching Fellows (GTFs), students must be in good standing with the department and Graduate School, be proficient in the English language, and be making satisfactory progress toward their degree.

 

Coincident with faculty responsibilities to prepare TAs are TA obligations to prepare themselves for teaching roles.  Prospective TAs should avail themselves of orientations and other training (e.g., use of instructional technology) offered by the Department and/or the Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE).

 

B.  TA responsibilities  The roles of TAs should reflect the expectation that TAs are “professors in training.”  In general, a TA has one or more of the following responsibilities:

1. Attend all course lectures and read the materials used.  These duties are integral to a TA’s ability to mentor students in the class. They also expose the TA to different styles of teaching, to methods for clearly conveying material, and to a variety of texts and other materials generally used in anthropology courses.

2. Prepare for and lead up to three recitation sections of 20-25 students at regularly scheduled times. These sections are to be devoted primarily to discussion or exercises based on material presented in lectures, readings or films.  Their main purpose should not be presentation of new material.

3. Help the instructor prepare exams.  By assisting in constructing tests the TA learns testing procedures in general and how to distinguish between good and bad questions in particular.;

4. Grade assignments and exams.  For essay and short answer exams, the professor should review with the TA how to grade the exams (i.e., criteria for good answers).  The grading of essay exams gives the TA experience with making analytical judgments about the materials.

5. TAs should hold regular office hours. These may be a mix of “electronic” office hours and scheduled appointments for students who need more one-on-one help.

6. Keep records of grades and attendance, if attendance is taken.

7. Assist with mechanical activities such as setting up of microphones, laptops, and showing films or videos.

 

C.  RA responsibilities

RA duties may be highly variable (e.g., data analysis, data entry, library research, computer or internet related tasks, collecting materials for course development) and depend on the nature of the faculty project to which the RA is assigned. To the extent possible, an RA’s duties should provide professional training for the student as well as facilitate the faculty member’s research.  RA duties should not exceed the stipulated number of hours (normally 15 hours/week for a full-time assistantship), should generally be performed during the normal academic work week, should not be assigned at the last minute and should not include personal services for the faculty member.

 

D.  Limitations on TA and RA responsibilities

The TA is responsible for working the total number of hours assigned by the department for that semester. The time commitment for a full time TAship is expected to average 15 hours per week. The work should be confined to the period beginning with the first day of the semester and ending with the end of exam period or submission of final grades.  Within this period, the distribution of work will vary with course or project.  However, so far as possible this distribution should be worked out between faculty member and assistant early in the semester.  For a course, this means that a syllabus clearly stating assignments is distributed early (see Provost’s Memorandum in Section VII below), which should permit planning for heavy grading periods.  Assistants are pre-professionals and not simply 9-to-5 workers; hence scheduling of work must follow demands of their assigned course or project, rather than a fixed schedule.  However, in the spirit of mutual consideration by faculty and students, the following will be observed:

1. To the extent possible, assistantship duties and assignments should be performed during the normal hours of the university, at times other than holidays or weekends.  Exceptions are a matter of mutual negotiation, with awareness that both faculty and graduate students have demanding schedules, and that heavy grading periods and deadlines may require flexible hours.

2. It has been a tradition within the department to excuse students from assistantship duties during periods of serious illness or other personal or family emergencies or crises.  This type of courtesy is part of the collegial nature of relations in this department.

3. Assistants will, in so far as possible, advise the professor well in advance of conflicting responsibilities (e.g., Ph.D. exams, participation in professional meetings) in order to facilitate flexible scheduling and effective utilization of hours.  If an assistant needs to be excused from attending a lecture or leading a discussion session, he/she should request permission.  Assistants should not expect or request time off for their normal course work or for vacations.

4. Faculty supervisors are reminded that they have to conform to University rules distinguishing Research Assistantships from Teaching Assistantships.

5. The faculty member and assistant will treat each other in a professional, courteous, and fair manner.

 

E.  Faculty/Instructor responsibilities:

  1. The faculty member to whom a TA is assigned will serve as his or her primary supervisor.  The Graduate Teaching Coordinator (GTC) and Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) will serve as backup supervisors and/or trouble-shooters.
  2. Faculty should meet regularly with their TAs to discuss content issues (e.g., selection of recitation session topics, assignments) and grading as well as to get feedback from the TAs (including assessments of workload).
  3. Faculty should avoid last minute requests or assignments to their TAs.
  4. Faculty should keep RA-type duties (e.g., copying, trips to the library) to a minimum, especially if recitation sections meet weekly and/or TA grading responsibilities are heavy.
  5. Faculty should be mindful of the expectation that TA duties should average 15 hours per week.  It is expected that some weeks may entail additional time, but if this is the case other weeks should entail lighter work loads.  If a TA’s duties significantly exceed (or fall short of) the expected time commitment, then assignments should be adjusted by mutual agreement between the TA and faculty member.  Because courses differ with regard to enrollment, number and type of exams, amount of written assignments, amount of contact time in lectures and recitation sessions, and more, it is difficult to specify the expected time in each of these activities.  However, it is the instructor’s responsibility to adjust the various demands on TA time to keep total effort within expectations.  There are many ways to accomplish this, including, for example, not holding recitation sessions in some weeks, but the best solutions will vary by course.

 

Faculty should advise and support TAs in balancing their assistantship and other responsibilities involved in their graduate education.

 

Prior to each semester, the Department should remind faculty and graduate students of the expectations and responsibilities of instructors and assistants,  This is especially important for new and term faculty, who are not always well informed about our traditions and policies concerning large enrollment classes.

 

 

 

II.    EVALUATION OF TA PERFORMANCE

 

Evaluation of TA performance is primarily intended as an aid to the student’s professional development.  The evaluation process will provide feedback to the TA about areas of strength and weakness and may also provide materials for a teaching portfolio that can be used when the student enters the job market.  Evaluations consist of one obligatory and one optional component:

1. (Obligatory)  Evaluation of TAs by students in the class should be a regular part of any course evaluations conducted at the end of the semester. Instructors are encouraged to review the course evaluations of each TA’s sections and then give the evaluations to the TAs for their information and teaching portfolio. If statistical summaries, broken down by recitation section, of the course evaluations are available, the instructor should also submit copies of these to the department for inclusion in the student’s file.  These summaries may be utilized in the assistantship award process along with other indicators of the student’s performance (see especially V-B below).  Instructors also have the option of submitting a written summary evaluation of the TA’s performance, which should also be kept in the student’s file.

2.  (Optional) If a TA requests it, or if the course instructor or the chair of the department feels it is appropriate, a classroom observation of one or more of the TA’s recitation sessions may be performed by a faculty member. Normally, the observation will be done by the instructor to whom the TA is assigned. If circumstances warrant, however, the TA or the instructor may request that the GTC conduct the classroom evaluation.  In cases where the instructor for the class is a GTF, the GTC will make the classroom observation. The observer will meet with the TA to discuss his/her observations and provide constructive suggestions.  The observer will prepare a brief report for the student’s file including an evaluation of whether the TA’s performance is “satisfactory” or “needs work”.  A TA whose performance is rated “needs work” will be advised to attend CFE workshops and/or individual training sessions, and to document her/his participation in one or more such sessions in a brief report to the GTC and instructor of the class (a copy should be provided for the student’s file as well).  Failure to follow through will affect future consideration for TA and GTF positions.

 

 

III.   RESOLUTION OF TA OR RA PROBLEMS

 

Whenever possible, the assistant and the professor or instructor should first make every attempt to resolve conflicts between themselves.  If the student or faculty member has problems or issues that she/he is not comfortable raising with the other party, he/she may confer with the GTC, who can offer advice and/or informally intercede. Where either party believes that such measure have not resolved the problems, the following steps should be followed for redress:

1. Both meet with the GTC.  If the GTC is a party to the grievance, the chair will appoint an alternate in his/her place.  Either of the aggrieved parties can initiate an informal mediation procedure with the GTC by contacting him/her.  Both parties may meet individually with the GTC before meeting collectively.  After this mediation stage is completed, the GTC will write a short, informal summary of the proceedings including the agreement reached or the issues still in dispute.

2. If the parties cannot come to an agreement with the help of the GTC, either has the option of taking the dispute to a departmental grievance committee.  This committee shall consist of a faculty member acting as the chair, as well as two other faculty members selected by the department Chair, in consultation with the GTC.  In addition, two graduate students elected by the anthropology graduate student body shall serve on the committee.

3. The parties involved shall prepare written statements of their positions prior to the meeting of the grievance committee.  The grievance committee serves a mediation function, attempting to facilitate an agreement between the two parties.

4. If no agreement can be reached between the two parties, then the grievance committee shall prepare a written recommendation.  This recommendation will be referred to the department Chair and the Director of Graduate Studies to aid them in implementing an appropriate course of action.

5. The assistant has the option of appealing to an ad hoc faculty-student committee established by the Dean of the Graduate School, as described in Appendix C, The Faculty Code of the University Government, July 1999; the faculty member also has the option of contacting the committee.

 

 

IV.   GUIDELINES FOR Graduate Teaching Fellows

 

As part of the professionalization and training process, the Department endeavors to provide all graduate students with at least one opportunity to teach their own course, and it is desirable to have more than one such opportunity.  This most often entails an appointment as a Graduate Teaching Fellow (GTF).

 

A.  GTF Training Requirements

To qualify for appointment as a GTF, a student must have completed his/her fourth semester paper and have passed Anthropology 817 [317] (The Concept of Teaching General Anthropology) or demonstrate that she/he has experience comparable to that gained in ANTH 817.

 

B.  GTF Responsibilities

GTFs have primary responsibility for a course, including planning the course, preparing the syllabus, presenting lectures and keeping records. The simultaneous experiences of lecturing, reviewing, creating exams, grading, and engaging with students provides the best opportunity for graduate students to learn the art of teaching.

 

In order to ensure the quality of the experience for both the GTF and the undergraduate students, first time GTFs are required to select a faculty mentor.  This person should be either the GTC (Graduate Teaching Coordinator) or a faculty member experienced in teaching that course (or a similar one).  The student should:

1. Notify the GTC as to her/his choice of a mentor.

2. Meet with her/his mentor well in advance of the course to discuss matters such as textbooks, course syllabus and format, and teaching strategies specific to the material.

3. Meet with her/his mentor shortly before the semester begins so that the mentor can review the course syllabus, provide feedback, or recommend changes.

Enrollment in courses taught by GTFs will usually be small enough that the GTF will not be responsible for supervising TAs.  In some rare instances, senior graduate students with prior teaching experience may teach large courses with TAs.  In such cases, the guidelines for TAs/Instructors outlined above apply to the relationship between the GTF and his/her TAs.

 

C.  Evaluation of GTF Performance

Evaluation of GTF performance is primarily intended as an aid to the student’s professional development.  The evaluation process will provide feedback to the GTF about areas of strength and weakness and will also provide materials for a teaching portfolio that can be used when the student enters the job market.  Evaluations consist of:

1.      Completion of standardized student course evaluations at the end of the semester. (A more informal mid-term student questionnaire is strongly recommended but not required.)  The evaluation may be the standard Carolina Course Review or an evaluation devised by the GTF in consultation with his or her mentor.

2.      A classroom observation performed by either the student’s chosen mentor or by the GTC. The GTF should choose the observer and arrange for a mutually convenient date for the observation.  This is required only for a student’s first GTF experience; thereafter it is optional.  The observer will meet with the GTF to discuss his/her observations, go over the report, and provide constructive suggestions. The observer will also prepare a brief report for the student’s file including an evaluation of whether the GTF’s performance is “satisfactory” or “needs work”.  A GTF whose performance is rated “needs work” will be advised to attend Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) workshops and/or individual training sessions and document her/his participation in one or more such sessions in a brief report to the GTC (a copy should be provided for the student’s file as well).  Failure to follow through may affect consideration for future GTF positions.

 

In addition, GTFs are strongly encouraged to seek additional feedback at other times during the semester by means such as:

1.      Availing themselves of CFE services, especially video recording and professional feedback.

2.      Inviting peer graduate students or faculty to observe additional classes (beyond those required).

 

 

V.   SELECTION OF GRADUATE ASSISTANTS

 

A.  Application

Early each Spring semester, application forms are sent to all graduate students with an invitation to apply for an assistantship in the following academic year. In these applications, students can indicate their preferences for course assignment and whether they want to be considered for a GTF assignment with responsibility for their own course.  Applications are due by a specified date, generally in February.

 

B.  Criteria Used in Choosing TAs and GTFs

For the purposes of awarding assistantships, each Spring semester faculty members rank those students with whom they have had recent (within the last two years) interaction in a course, as an advisee, a committee member, an RA or a TA.  Rankings are based on a combination of academic achievement and satisfactory performance as a TA (substantive efforts to improve are taken into account).  More specifically, the criteria include:

·         Academic excellence, reflected in course grades, contributions in seminars, performance on written and oral exams, quality of theses or Fourth Semester Papers, publications, etc.;

·         Performance as TA or GTF, reflected in student course evaluations (specific to the TA’s sections or the GTF’s own course) and classroom observations, and supervising instructor’s evaluations of teaching excellence and professional responsibility;

·         Timely progress toward degree.  “Timely progress” entails completing coursework on schedule (especially removal of any “Incomplete” grades), filing a PhD study plan, completing the Fourth Semester Paper, passing comprehensive exams, defending the dissertation prospectus, and fulfilling other requirement outlined in this Guide or by the Graduate School.  For ABD students, continued substantive progress in dissertation research and writing is expected.

 

The combined faculty rankings are used in making funding decisions.  Because academic achievement is (or should be) affected by experience, students are divided into groups (incoming or first year, second year, third year, four year plus), and awards are made based on ranking within the groups.  When funds are short, first, second and third year students are given priority over senior graduate students who have had four or more years of funding.  One assumption here is that senior graduate students have more opportunities for external funding.  An exception to this general order of priority is that special consideration is given to students in their first semester back from dissertation fieldwork, because they are likely to have had fewer opportunities to find local funding.

 

C.  Assignments

In assigning TAs to specific courses, the department gives serious consideration to the preferences expressed by students.  However, both the courses needing TAs and the TA pool varies from semester to semester, so TAs cannot always be given assignments that match their specific interests or preferences.

 

GTF assignments are based on both course staffing needs and the desideratum of providing graduate students with teaching experience.  Selection of GTFs is based on the criteria in the preceding section and the following:

·         The availability of openings in specific courses;

·         The student’s knowledge of the material covered by the course;

·         The number of times the student has applied for a GTF and how many opportunities the student has already had to teach (including during summer terms);

·         Past teaching performance as a GTF.

 

D.  Notification of Appointment

The review of current students for the purposes of funding is normally completed by the end of each academic year.  At that time, a large proportion of the graduate students who will ultimately staff courses will be offered appointments during an initial allocation of funding.  Uncertainties about the coming year’s instructional budget (which is seldom approved before mid summer) and about alternative funding (grants, fellowships, etc.) for some graduate students, make it impossible to award all assistantships as early as would be desirable.  The department will provide notification to all students who have applied for departmental funding as to their current appointment status by the end of May.

 

The department may and usually does have opportunities to offer additional appointments to those students who do not receive funding during this initial allocation.  Such positions are offered as they become available, and therefore the process may continue until the beginning of the following fall semester. To facilitate this process, the department maintains the list of these applicants until all possible avenues of additional funding have been exhausted.  Students unwilling to be considered after a certain date will notify the Associate Chair of that fact.  There is no guarantee that all applicants will receive aid.  At the same time, the department strives to attain the best match between department funds and needs on the one hand, and students’ needs and eligibility for funding on the other.

 

E.  Appeal Procedure

A student who has not been offered an appointment may request an explanation of the reasons for this in an interview with the Associate Chair or Chair. Prior to, or during, this meeting, the student should set out any concerns about oversights, procedural errors, or other circumstances that he or she feels might have affected the funding decision.

 

Following this interview, a student who has not received an appointment and is unsatisfied with the outcome of the meeting described above may request that an ad hoc committee be formed. This committee, composed of three faculty (including the student’s advisor) and appointed by the Chair, will be charged with reviewing the student’s record.  Requests for such reviews should not be made lightly or routinely but may be appropriate if the student can present substantive evidence of errors or overlooked circumstances that he or she believes affected the funding process. The committee’s primary focus will be to suggest how the student might improve his/her prospects in future appointment cycles.  If the committee believes that procedures or circumstances unfairly prevented the student from being offered an assistantship, they will report that conclusion to the Chair and Associate Chair, and may make recommendations about how to rectify the situation (e.g., granting higher priority for an assistantship in a subsequent semester). At the student’s request, they may also be added to his/her record in written form.

 

At the same time, committee members may also formulate proposals concerning appointment policy and procedures, insofar as they judge adjustments to the latter appropriate for addressing issues involved in the particular case that may be more generally relevant. The committee’s recommendations will be communicated to the student as well as to the Associate Chair and Chair.


 

VI.   INVOLVEMENT OF GRADUATE STUDENTS IN DEPARTMENT ADMINISTRATION

 

Graduate students contribute significantly to the teaching, research, and service roles of the department.  Further, departmental decisions concerning matters such as instructional policy and hiring new faculty have a direct bearing on student responsibilities, training, and opportunities.  Consequently, the department collectively recognizes the need for graduate students to participate in departmental decision making.  To this end, the following measures are intended to ensure adequate graduate student participation in certain domains where faculty and graduate students share substantial interest.

 

A.  Graduate Program Policy Meetings and Policy Revisions

  • The Department Chair, Associate Chair, Graduate Teaching Coordinator, and Director of Graduate Studies will hold a meeting at least once a semester with graduate students.
  • These meetings will provide a forum for discussing issues concerning faculty/TA/RA/GTF relations in the department as well as any other salient graduate student concerns.
  • The meetings will also provide a venue for considering student initiatives, which may lead to revisions to the department’s TA/RA/GTF policies and practices.
  • In the event that policy changes are initiated, the SAS teaching liaison (see below) and two additional student representatives (also elected by the graduate students) will work with the Department Chair, GTC, and DGS to seek input from department faculty and students and to draft revisions to the policy to be taken to the faculty. The representatives will be 3rd year or higher in the program and will have TA/RA/GTF experience.

 

B.  Participation in Faculty and Graduate Student Meetings

  • In order to facilitate communication of student concerns or opinions to the faculty and reporting of matters considered at the meeting to the graduate students, two elected SAS student representatives may attend faculty meetings, except those meetings (or portions of meetings) devoted to personnel issues or evaluation of students, where individual faculty, staff, or students are discussed.  In particular, students are encouraged to send a representative when student initiatives are on the agenda.
  • The Chair will notify the SAS representatives of the faculty meeting agenda(s) at the same time as faculty are notified.
  • The graduate students may invite the Chair, DGS, or other faculty members to SAS meetings when they believe that such participation would be useful.

 

C.  Participation in Faculty Hiring

Each search committee will include a doctoral student representative, appointed by the Department Chair based on nominations from SAS. The representative should be an advanced student who has interests and experience relevant to the position under consideration. This representative will be entitled to a vote on behalf of the students in the formation of the list of candidates that is recommended by the search committee to the full faculty for inclusion on the short list.  The student representative will coordinate student participation in the interview process, and will attend relevant faculty meetings to report on the students’ evaluation of the candidates, including the results of any votes by the students.

 

D.  Other Formal Participation in Department Governance

The Society of Anthropology Students (SAS) will elect a student to serve as Teaching Liaison (TL). The TL and the GTC should meet periodically to coordinate their efforts. The TL will keep graduate students informed of TA/RA/GTF policy issues. The TL should be 3rd year or higher in the program and should have TA/RA/GTF experience.

 

A graduate student representative may also serve on the following committees:

·         Admissions Committee

·         AnArchaey Notes Committee

·         Colloquium Committee

The Chair will appoint students to these committees from nominees presented by SAS.

 

 

VII.  Additional Obligations and Expectations of Faculty and Graduate Assistants

 

Faculty and teaching assistants share an obligation to fulfill all university regulations and codes, and should note especially the following, which bear on their duties, schedules and responsibilities (see Provost O’Connor’s memorandum of 4 September, 1990):

1. Presence during final exams: Members of the instructional staff (including faculty) are to be personally present for final examinations and remain in residence until grades are submitted in the courses for which they are responsible.

2. Course records: Records must be kept for at least 1 year after the course is completed.  This is the responsibility of the instructor of record – faculty or GTF. Teaching assistants share responsibility for keeping course records pertaining to evaluations of students in their recitation sections. Because students often leave campus for field work or other purposes during the record retention period, TAs should leave their records with the course instructor, and GTFs should file their records in the main office.

3. Syllabus:  Students expect to receive a written syllabus for each of their courses at the beginning of the semester.  Syllabi should define course requirements, dates of examinations, and other information specific to the course.  Each member of the instructional staff is urged to prepare such a syllabus for their courses at whatever level of undergraduate or graduate work.

4. Course grades:  Final grades are to be submitted to the Registrar’s office within 72 hours of the completion of the final exam.  All instructors are urged to respect this deadline, and department chairs are expected to ensure its observation.  Tardiness imposes undeserved stress on students, and generates significant administrative problems, especially for students planning to graduate.