Preparing Teaching Assistants

Many graduate programs in philosophy provide funding for their students in exchange for their labor as teaching assistants (TAs). The job of a TA varies across institutions and courses, but typically involves grading assignments, running weekly discussion sections of a larger course, and providing guidance to students.

That’s a lot of responsibility, on top of one’s own coursework and  writing, for a student to handle. What kind of training do graduate students get to prepare themselves for it?

As students, they’ve seen their own professors and TAs work, but that prepares them for teaching about as well as watching movies prepares one for an acting career.

It would be helpful to learn both what individual professors do to prepare and guide their teaching assistants before and during a course and also what departments and other units at the university offer by way of official TA training.

UPDATE: Sarah Wieten reminds me of a study she co-authored which was covered in a post earlier this year. That study focused on the teacher training that graduate students get — not much. It did not cover what individual professors do to prepare and guide their own TAs, though, which is one of the things this current post asks about.




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