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Jill Robbins, Chair 150 W 21st Street, Stop B3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4936

Policies and Procedures

The University of Texas at Austin

Department of Spanish and Portuguese

POLICIES AND PROCEDURES GOVERNING THE SELECTION AND RETENTION OF TEACHING ASSISTANTS (TAs) AND ASSISTANT INSTRUCTORS (AIs)

(Revisions approved by the GSC: December 11, 2012)

 

 

I. UNIVERSITY-WIDE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

 

Teaching Assistants (TA), Assistant Instructors (AI), and Graduate Research Assistants are governed by the Handbook of Operating Procedures (http://www.utexas.edu/policies/hoppm/12.C.02.html)

1.     For TAs: Part 12. Students. Section C.  Student Academic Employees, Policy Number 12.C.1 (Date Issued: July 13, 2006)

2.     For AIs: Part 12. Students. Section C.  Student Academic Employees, Policy Number 12.C.2 (Date Issued: July 13, 2006)

3.     For Graduate Research Assistants: Part 12. Students. Section C.  Student Academic Employees, Policy Number 12.C.3 (Date Issued: July 13, 2006)

Apart from the university-wide policies, the Handbook of Operating Procedures establishes that TAs and AIs are also to abide by specific departmental rules which are set forth in the present document:

1. Teaching Assistants/Assistant instructors are subject to the Rules and Regulations of The University of Texas System Board of Regents, the University, the Graduate School, the college/school, and department in which they hold employment. In the performance of their duties they must abide by and adhere to the academic and instructional criteria and policies established by the department in which they render service. [Paragraph G1/J1 from Policy number 12.C.1/2]

In addition, International students must have English language certification and must attend the International TA/AI Orientation if appointed as a TA or AI with student contact. (Please consult the following website for more detailed information: http://ita.cte.utexas.edu).

II. SELECTION AND APPOINTMENT

 

1.     The initial selection of all TAs and AIs is made on the recommendation of the Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid Committee (GAFA).

2.     The selection of TAs and AIs is based on merit factors such as GRE scores, academic records, letters of recommendation and the assessment of teaching proficiency and experience.

3.     First preference is given to qualified students in our own department; secondarily, to students in departments or programs closely related to ours, such as Foreign Language Education, Linguistics, the Institute of Latin American Studies, and Comparative Literature.  

4.     A person who has been conditionally admitted to the Graduate School normally is not eligible for employment as a TA or AI, although the department may appeal to the Graduate School to make an exception based on special circumstances. In cases where conditional admittance prevents employment, the candidate is encouraged to come to this department as a student so further consideration of his or her employment application may be given.

5.     Initial applications for employment are part of the admissions process and are due by January 1.  Employment offers are made with admission. Notification of employment is usually given in March.  Additional offers, based on departmental need, may be made at the beginning of the fall semester.

6.     A student hired as an AI is expected to teach one course section per semester.

The present policy further affirms the following rules established in the Handbook of Operating Procedures (the paragraphs copied below make reference to the AI and TA documents):

a.     Paragraph E1a-b/F2: The period of appointment shall not exceed one academic year and shall terminate at the expiration of the stated period of appointment without notification of nonrenewal. If a department determines that it is to the benefit of the institution, it may nominate a TA/AI for reappointment.

b.     Paragraph E1b/E1d: All appointments and reappointments of TAs and AIs are subject to the approval of the dean of the college or school, and the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies.

c.     Paragraph E3/K2: The total combined period of service as a teaching assistant, graduate research assistant, academic assistant, assistant (graduate), and assistant instructor shall not exceed fourteen long-session academic semesters.

d.     Paragraph E3: AI appointments shall not exceed twenty hours per week during the first two long-session semesters of graduate study at the University and thirty hours per week during subsequent long-session semesters. Exceptions may be permitted only upon approval of the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies.

For information about the exceptions to the limit of fourteen semesters of employment as an AI/TA (sub-paragraph c above), see the memo from the Office of the Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies (October 6, 2008).

 

 

 

III. SUMMER APPOINTMENTS

 

Summer teaching is based on programmatic needs in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Normally, the number of courses and sections offered during the summer is smaller than the number of AIs who would like to teach in the summer. Summer appointments will be based on a combination of merit (as a graduate student and a TA/AI) and seniority as described below:

 

a.     AI assessment scores qualify a student to teach in the summer. This ranks him/her within the pool of people that will be teaching in the summer.  (Students who do not attend both complete days of the orientation workshops will be placed at the bottom of the ranking list to teach in the summer regardless of their overall performance evaluations, unless his/her absence is due to a documented emergency such as hospitalization).

b.     Once the AI qualifies and is ranked for summer teaching, priority should be given according to the following groups:

 

Group 1--1st Priority

1st year Phd students who completed their MA degree in the department.

2nd and 3rd year Phd students

Group 2- 2nd Priority

1st year new Phd students

4th year Phd students

Group 3-3rd Priority

5h year and above Phd students

Students from other departments

c.  In case any summer course is cancelled after being assigned to a graduate student, these will be re-assigned so that priority rules can still be observed.  Students in priority groups 2 or 3 should be allowed to teach during the summer only if students who applied in priority group 1 have been re-assigned a course.  This premise will be followed, unless the student from priority group 1 voluntarily declines the re-assignment during that summer.In case any summer course is cancelled after being assigned to a graduate student, these will be re-assigned so that priority rules can still be observed.  Students in priority groups 2 or 3 should be allowed to teach during the summer only if students who applied in priority group 1 have been re-assigned a course.  This premise will be followed, unless the student from priority group 1 voluntarily declines the re-assignment during that summer.

  1. This system allows students to work three (3) summers in their guaranteed 14 semesters of teaching (Graduate School Memo, October 6, 2008) with the possibility of a 4th summer based on merit.
  1. If TAs are needed to teach lab sections in the summer, then they will rank according to their TA Assessment forms.
  1. Summer AIs and TAs must take three hours of coursework in order for them to teach.  It is not necessary for the AI/TA to enroll in coursework the same session that he/she teaches.  If the AI or TA is teaching in the first session and intends to enroll in the second, he/she must show proof of registration and payment before appointment can be made.
  1. Graduate students who are on leave during the spring semester (i.e. not registered for courses) or not in residence in the Austin area (even if registered for courses), excepting students away on grant, will not be eligible to resume teaching in summer term.
  1. The Graduate School allows carrying one incomplete from the previous semester.  Students with an incomplete more than one semester old are not eligible to teach, during summer or otherwise.
  1. Lack of academic progress may result in the student not receiving an assignment. This is especially important for summer teaching positions. Thesis or dissertation students must demonstrate through their Progress Report forms that they are making adequate progress to justify continuing or summer employment. These forms should state a tentative date of completion.
  1. Teaching performance is based on the evaluation procedure described in section (V) below. In addition, AIs must demonstrate the ability to teach with minimal supervision.
  1. AIs with significant problems in their teaching record or other professional experience will not be considered for summer teaching.  That includes AIs under probation, but excludes AIs who were under probation and were able to overcome their shortcomings.

 

IV. RESPONSIBILITIES

The Handbook of Operating Procedures establishes that:

Although they are not members of the faculty, TAs/AIs will be expected to conform to the same standard of conduct in the performance of their academic duties as are members of the faculty and shall respect the rights and opinions of students and uphold the academic standards of the University. [Paragraph G4/J4]

In addition, in the performance of their duties TAs/AIs must abide by and adhere to the academic and instructional criteria and policies established by the department in which they render service.

A. General departmental policies applicable to both AIs and TAs

 

1.     All AI and TA need to register for their courses and to have their tuition fees paid before starting to teach. You will be considered for a teaching assignment only if you have registered and paid your fees. Please do not leave town for the summer without registering for your classes in the fall.

2.     All AIs and TAs must attend the general orientation session prior to the beginning of the semester.

3.     If suggested by the Director, Coordinator or a Supervisor, an AI/TA may be required to observe a different section of the same course being taught by the AI/proctored by the TA in order to become more familiarized with the program expectations. The number of visits will be limited to a reasonable amount as to provide the AI/TA with the appropriate level of knowledge to be successful as an AI/TA.

4.     AIs and TAs are not to switch sections without prior consent of the Coordinator.

5.     As required by the UT System Board of Regents, all AIs/TAs must undergo general compliance training (https:utdirect.utexas.edu/cts).

6.     Adding and dropping students from courses:

                            a.     Course drops: The office of the Registrar requires that after the 12th class day all course drops must be acknowledged by the instructor of record. This acknowledgement is not permission to drop the class. The permission comes from the Dean's office.

                           b.     Course additions: AIs and TAs are not authorized to add students to classes. Students must use the wait list system to add lower division classes. Should a student request instructor's assistance to be added to a class, the instructors of record must advise them of the wait list process and suggest that they get on the wait list. If a student has questions about that process, they should contact their College advisors or, if absolutely necessary, the advisors in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

7.     Grades:

                            a.     The Department will inform you of deadlines for turning in grades. THESE DEADLINES MUST BE RESPECTED. For security reasons, final grades can only be posted electronically. If you are not sure how to post your grades electronically, please talk to your supervisor.

                           b.     Grades are to be uploaded to the Gradebook on Blackboard.

                            c.     AIs must follow the grading procedures outlined by their syllabus and their Course Supervisor. In particular, AIs are not allowed to increase or decrease the computation of grades and grade averages based on criteria other than the components already outlined in the syllabus (e.g., the relative weights assigned to each component as part of the overall grade).

8.     Teaching materials, textbooks and students' work:

                            a.     Books and other teaching materials will be checked out at the beginning of each semester.

                           b.     Please return teaching materials and textbooks to Lisa Mailloux when you leave employment. You are responsible for returning these materials and are required to pay for any lost books, workbooks, etc. If you fail to submit your books or pay for the lost ones, a bar will be placed on your student record, which will require payment before removal (TA/AI handbook, Availability of coursework, grading, p. 11-12; General Information Catalog, p. 73).

                            c.     All class work, quizzes, exams, etc. not returned to the student must be kept for one long semester.  If you will be leaving the university, please turn in these materials to your supervisor.

9.     TA's/AI's may use the photocopier on the 5th floor to prepare CLASS materials only. Please plan in advance when using the duplicating equipment. There is heavy usage of the equipment and there are times the equipment may be down for repair or in use.  AI's/TA's are restricted from using photocopiers on any other floor in Benedict.

10.  There is a list of qualified tutors in Lower Division for any student who wants help and is willing to pay for it. If you are interested in adding your name to this list, please talk to Lisa Mailloux (Benedict 2.122). The Financial Aid Office will also provide tutors. Please be advised of the following rule: "With written approval, TAs, AIs and other like instructional employees below the rank of instructor, may accept pay from students for extra class instruction or coaching but only in courses or sections of courses with which they have no instructional connection" (From Rules of Regents, Sec. 26.3, p. 39). Note also that foreign students who are not allowed to work off campus may not tutor for pay off campus.

11.  Any AI/TA planning to carry out a research study, survey or any other type of data-gathering project in any of the courses offered by the Language Program must request written permission to do so from the respective Course Supervisor. The request must be received at least two weeks in advance of the collection of data. The request should provide information about the instrument to be used, the number of students involved, the class time needed to conduct the project and a copy of the IRB approval to conduct the study.

 

B. AI Responsibilities:

1.     Attendance and Absences:

                            a.     It is required that AIs do not seek substitutes for the first week of class.  Substitution during the first week of class must be justified only on the basis of extenuating circumstances.

                           b.     During the semester AIs must hold class during the regularly scheduled time as published in the official course schedule.

                            c.     AIs cannot cancel classes. In case of absence, the AI must notify the course supervisor and find and instructor to cover his/her class.

                           d.     In case of emergencies and if AIs have notified their supervisors and attempted to find a substitute, then as a last resort, call the main office so students can be notified that the class is cancelled. Please allow as much time as possible for staff to get to your class. If the AI is to be absent for more than 10% of his/her classes, he/she must find ONE qualified AI who is willing to substitute them AND grade assignments until the instructor of record is able to return.

                            e.     AIs must submit a Request for Travel Authorization (RTA) form a minimum of two weeks in advance for any travel.

2.     Syllabus:

                            a.     AIs are to follow the class schedule as outlined in the class syllabus and/or calendar. Please do not deviate from it. Do not forget to fill in your name, UT phone number, office hours, and email address in the provided syllabus. Then post on Blackboard.

                           b.     Supervisors will specify to AIs the syllabus items that are specific to each section within a course level. AIs will write up and include, as an addendum, information specific for their section.

                            c.     Inform students of all pertinent departmental/course information.

                           d.     Follow the class schedule as outlined in the class syllabus.

                            e.     Given that the Language Program's objectives require instructors to maximize the use of class time to focus students on the active use of the second language, it is neither effective nor efficient to change the syllabus/schedule to accommodate visitors in class. Therefore, instructors in the Language Program cannot authorize requests for the use of class time for any type of activity that is not already part of the program of studies. Rare exceptions to this policy can be handled on an individual basis through a written request to be sent to the Course Supervisor. The request needs to be submitted at least two weeks in advance, and it should provide a strong justification for the need to change the course schedule.

                            f.     AIs must submit a written request to their Course Supervisor to accommodate observations of their classes by anyone other than administrators of the Language Program or other AIs/TAs in the Language Program (as outlined in paragraph A3 above). The request needs to be submitted at least two weeks in advance, and it should provide a justification for the need for the class observation (e.g., teacher trainee in Uteach) and the number of times it will occur.

3.     Office hours:

                            a.     Designate two office hours per week to be held on the 4th or 5th floors of Benedict Hall all semester through final exams. Hold an additional scheduled hour per week in the Help Center.

                           b.     Please inform students on the first day of class, as well as writing them in the syllabus.

                            c.     If you are unable to attend office hours please communicate the absence to your students in advance.

4.     Communication:

                            a.     Check email and course Blackboard site at least once every 24 hours on business days so as not to miss any important announcements or information. In case of Portuguese, check the Portuguese Language Instructors Blackboard.

                           b.     Attend required staff meetings and professional development sessions.

5.     Teaching Methodology:

                            a.     Attend the orientation session each semester.

                           b.     Implement the teaching approach of the Language Program.

6.     Coordination with Course supervisor:

                            a.     Review exams elaborated by the supervisor.

                           b.     Share class information (such as exam grades) when requested to do so.

                            c.     Turn in class records (full list of grades, absences and relevant students' work such as exams) to the supervisor at the end of the semester.

                           d.     Consult with supervisor regarding exceptional cases of students' absences or missed major work.

                            e.     Portuguese AIs are expected to review and update (if necessary) the exams and submit for approval to their Supervisor. Portuguese AIs are also expected to assist with the updating of the course calendar.

7.     Exams:

                            a.     Supervisors will design and provide AIs with final exams as well as major tests. Portuguese AIs are expected to review and update (if necessary) the final exams and submit for approval to their Supervisor.

                           b.     Proctor, administer, and promptly grade class assignments, exams, and interviews, if applicable.

                            c.     Observe all university deadlines in posting final grades.

                           d.     AIs are required to be present during the final exams every semester that they teach a course. This means AIs have to be present during the main exam, and in town and available during the make-up exam. Any request for any exception to this rule has to be submitted in writing. However, exceptions to this policy are rarely granted.

8.     Course Instructor Surveys (CIS):

                            a.     All courses are required to administer the Course Instructor Surveys (CIS) during the last week of class. However, instructors are NOT allowed to handle the forms at any point of the process of administration of the surveys.

                           b.     Please send a student to the office of Lisa Mailloux (BEN 2.122) to pick up the Course Instructor Surveys (CIS) forms for your course. Note that instructors are NOT to be in the room when the surveys are being administered.

                            c.     After students are done completing the forms, a student volunteer should collect the evaluations and take them to Lisa Mailloux  (BEN 2.122) during the specified hours (The volunteer must bring ALL the forms, including any blank ones). For after-hours delivery, please tell your student you will contact Lisa Mailloux and notify him/her of their intended delivery time.

                           d.     When the evaluations become available to you, please check your course and instructor ratings. If either your course or instructor rates are below a 3.5 (on a scale of 1-5), please contact your supervisor to follow up with the procedure to assess teaching performance established in section V (B) below.

9.     Grade inflation:

AIs are responsible for using the Course Supervisors' suggested evaluation criteria for holistic grading sections of any assessment to ensure there is no grade inflation. Course Supervisors will contact AIs in writing in cases in which

i.      there are significant discrepancies between holistic grades and automatic scoring sections (e.g., multiple-choice items) of any assessment, test or exam.

ii.     the distribution of scores of any given section differs significantly with reference to the scores assigned by the Course Supervisor.

10.  Accommodations for students with disabilities (SSD office):

Upon receiving a letter from the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) with a recommendation to provide appropriate accommodations, AIs should

i.      make arrangements to provide such accommodations no later than 10 days after the date of the letter,

ii.     forward a copy of the letter and suggested accommodations to the Course Supervisor for review and approval of suggested procedures, and

iii.   stay in contact with the SSD advisor.

NOTE: If a student tells you s/he has a disability and will bring you a doctor's/parent's letter, tell him/her that you can only make accommodations recommended by SSD, so they should contact the office of SSD.

 

C. TA Responsibilities:

a.     Attendance and Absences:

                            a.     It is required that TAs do not seek substitutes for the first week of class.  Substitution during the first week of class must be justified only on the basis of extenuating circumstances.

                           b.     During the semester TAs must hold class (lab sections and regular courses) during the regularly scheduled time as published in the official course schedule.

                            c.     TAs cannot cancel classes. In case of absence, the TA must notify the course supervisor and find and instructor to cover his/her class.

                           d.     In case of emergencies, if they have notified their supervisors and attempted to find a substitute, then as a last resort, call the main office so students can be notified that the class is cancelled. Please allow as much time as possible for staff to get to your class. If the TA is to be absent for more than 10% of his/her classes, he/she must find ONE qualified TA who is willing to substitute him/her AND grade assignments until the instructor of record is able to return.

                            e.     TAs must also submit a Request for Travel Authorization (RTA) form a minimum of two weeks in advance for any travel.

b.     Syllabus:

                            a.     Inform students of all pertinent departmental/course information.

                           b.     Follow the class schedule as outlined in the class syllabus.

c.     Office hours:

                            a.     Designate three office hours per week to be held on the 4th or 5th floors of Benedict Hall.

                           b.     Please inform students on the first day of class, as well as writing them in the syllabus.

                            c.     If you are unable to attend office hours please communicate the absence to your students in advance.

d.     Communication:

                            a.     Check email and course Blackboard site at least once every 24 hours so as not to miss any important announcements or information.

                           b.     Attend staff meetings and professional development sessions.

e.     Teaching Methodology:

                            a.     Attend the orientation session each semester.

                           b.     Implement the teaching approach of the Language Program.

f.      Coordination with Course supervisor:

                            a.     Participate in designing class activities, and other course-related material requested by the course supervisor.

                           b.     Consult with supervisor regarding exceptional cases of students' absences or missed major work.

g.     Exams:

                            a.     Proctor, administer, and promptly grade class assignments, exams, and interviews, if applicable.

                           b.     TAs are required to be present during the final exams every semester that they assist or teach a course. This means TAs have to be present during the main exam, and in town and available during the make-up exam. Any request for any exception to this rule has to be submitted in writing. However, exceptions to this policy are rarely granted.

h.     Course Instructor Surveys (CIS):

                             i.     All courses are required to administer the Course Instructor Surveys (CIS) during the last week of class. However, instructors (including TAs) are NOT allowed to handle the forms at any point of the process of administration of the surveys.

                           ii.     If you managed a section as a TA, please send a student to the office of Lisa Mailloux (BEN 2.122) to pick up the Course Instructor Surveys (CIS) forms for your course. Note that TAs are NOT to be in the room when the surveys are being administered.

                          iii.     After students are done completing the forms, a student volunteer should collect the evaluations and take them to Lisa Mailloux  (BEN 2.122) during the specified hours (The volunteer must bring ALL the forms, including any blank ones). For after-hours delivery, please tell your student you will contact Lisa Mailloux and notify him/her of their intended delivery time.

                          iv.     When the evaluations become available to you, please check your course and instructor ratings. If either your course or instructor rates are below a 3.5 (on a scale of 1-5), please contact your supervisor to follow up with the procedure to assess teaching performance established in section V (B) below.

 

V. AI/TA TEACHING EVALUATION

 

1. AI/TA Performance Assessment 

a.     The performance of AIs and TAs is assessed and evaluated in a variety of ways that provide a comprehensive picture of their work in the Language Program.

b.     The main components of this evaluation are the Supervisors' teaching evaluations, students' class evaluations and administrative performance (see below).

c.     The specific evaluation of AIs and TAs described below will be tracked throughout time while the AIs and TAs work with the Language Program.

d.     The assessment procedures herein described are part of a Teaching Portfolio that will be archived with the Graduate Program Coordinator (Laura Rodríguez). The main objective of the Teaching Portfolio is to provide graduate students with an official and comprehensive document that can be used for future job searches, placement, etc.

e.     AIs and TAs are encouraged to submit relevant information to be added to their teaching portfolios as they gain more experience (e.g., Supervisors' letters of recommendation, major achievements and awards, etc.)

f.      The evaluation of AIs and TAs will be used for a variety of administrative procedures within the Language Program (e.g., scheduling hours at the Help Center, course section times, summer hiring priority, etc.)

2. AI/TA Performance Evaluation

Supervisors' assessment of teaching                                                 40 %
Fall Class Visit Report                                   (20%)
Spring  Class Visit Report                              (20%)

 

Students' assessment of teaching                                                       30%

Undergraduate students' CIS scores               (20%)
AI/TA critical review/action plan*                 (10%)

Administrative evaluation                                                                   30 %

            End of semester evaluation                             (20%)

            AI/TA self-evaluation*                                   (10%) 

* Whenever the AIs/TAs do not submit a CIS critical review/action plan or self-evaluation, the total score for the given component will be represented by the CIS scores, or the end of semester evaluation respectively.

3. Supervisor Teaching Evaluation

a.     AIs will be observed once per semester to receive summative and formative feedback (depending on staffing constraints and given previous successful performance, AIs may be observed only once per academic year).

b.     The class observation report is guided by the Class Visit Report form. The most up-to-date form is archived on the Blackboard site for AIs and TAs. 

c.     The respective course Supervisor, the General Coordinator and the Director of the Program reserve the right to enter and observe your class at any time without prior arrangement.

d.     It is the responsibility of the AI to contact the visitor after the class observation and arrange a meeting with him/her to discuss the AI's teaching performance.

4. Administrative Evaluation

a.     AIs and TAs are responsible for a number of administrative duties directly associated with the courses they teach/support teaching, as well as ongoing required professional training.

b.     This component of their performance is assessed through the End of Semester Evaluation form. The most up-to-date form is archived on the Blackboard site for AIs and TAs.

 

 

VI. SALARY SCALE

As of December 1, 2012, the 2012-2013 nine-month salaries for an AI are $16,381, for a TA non-masters $13,153, for a TA with a Masters $14,489. TAs. AIs also receive $3,784 per semester of tuition assistance as part of their compensation, based on continued twenty-hour appointment. Should the percentage of time for the instructional appointment be reduced, the amount of tuition assistance will also decrease. For more up to date information about salaries, please consult the main webpage of the Department.

 

 

Lack of compliance with the above rules will result in a breach of your contract with the Department and will jeopardize the possibility for being assigned to teach classes during both the regular academic year and in the summer.


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