Teaching Assistantship Guidelines for the Department of Anthropology

Teaching assistantships in Anthropology are normally assigned to large general education courses with a discussion or lab component that meet on a weekly basis. For the two Analyzing the Natural World general education courses with lab sections, a 25% appointment is also awarded to an experienced lead TA whose duties include lab coordination and preparation rather than direct instruction.

Teaching assistantships are generally a 50% appointment, but 25% appointments may be awarded at the discretion of the department or at the graduate student’s request. Teaching assistants for courses with discussion sections generally lead three 50-minute discussions of 25-28 students per section. Teaching assistants in courses with lab sections generally will lead two 110-minute labs of 25 students per section. All teaching assistants are expected to attend lectures, weekly TA meetings, and hold two drop-in hours each week.

Fall appointments span August 16-December 31. Spring appointments span January 1-May 15. Teaching assistants should not make travel plans during these appointment periods without written permission from the assigned course instructor.

General call:
Each October and March, graduate students apply for teaching assistantships in the coming semester in response to a general funding survey posted to the graduate student listserv. All graduate students should respond to the survey to apprise the departments of a) students who request teaching assistantships or Board of Trustee (BOT) waivers, b) students with new fellowships, grants or research assistantships who need tuition waivers, c) students who are registering for 0 hours for the first time and need assistance or d) students who will have TA/GA/RAships from other departments. The survey helps us determine who needs funding, who has alternate funding, and who may be away from campus in a given semester.

Funding priorities:
The Department of Anthropology generally funds all students who request TAships for the bulk of their graduate careers. Graduate students who receive guaranteed funding as part of fellowship agreements, as well as students with multi-year funding guarantees in initial offer letters are prioritized. Graduate students who have received deadline to degree extensions from the Graduate College because they have completed more than nine years in the graduate program, have the lowest priority for funding and we require written updates on their progress towards degree status for each semester that TA funding is requested.

All funding renewals are dependent on satisfactory progress toward the degree, satisfactory performance in teaching duties, and the availability of funds.  Multiple incomplete or unsatisfactory grades in coursework are examples of unsatisfactory progress, as are evidence of academic misconduct or unethical behavior. Failure to take actions addressed in yearly progress letters issued by the Director of Graduate Studies may also affect funding.

Offer letters and documentation:
Individual teaching assistant assignments are based on course schedules and instructional needs. Employment letters based on the approved template issued by the UIC Human Resources are emailed to individual students. Nearly all letters will be sent in compliance with the 45-day deadline set by the contract with the Graduate Employees Organization. Letters will be sent after the deadline only in rare cases where progress, performance, or fund availability is not yet resolved or when an offer letter is declined or resigned. In those cases, a teaching assistantship may be offered to either an unfunded student within our department, or to a qualified graduate student from outside our department.

Students may either print, sign, and return the letter, or accept by reply email. Please be aware the email reply acts a signature, so send questions or information about preferences in a separate email.

First time TAs must submit required documentation to the UIC Human Resources department, including completing the I9 form. If students are unable to complete these steps by the start date of the appointment, the start date may be modified to reflect when the student can legally begin work. International TAs may also have additional requirements. Consult the website for the International Teaching Assistant Program and Office of International Students section on student employment  for questions on these requirements.

Assignment decisions:
Teaching assistantships are assigned by the program coordinator, in consultation with the DUS, DGS and Head. Many variables are considered in assigning individual teaching assistants to specific courses:

  • Students are rotated through the 100 level courses as part of their training and professional development in the subfields of anthropology.
  • Teaching assistantships for each course are examined to ensure that experienced TAs are paired with less experienced ones in each course.
  • Teaching assistant training and background will be weighed for the more specialized 200 level courses.
  • Instructor feedback and undergraduate student evaluations are reviewed.
  • Special consideration is given to 1st time teaching assistants, students preparing for preliminary exams, students with parental leave needs, and students with medical or other complicating needs.
  • Graduate student preferences for certain course assignments will be considered when possible.

Once assigned to a course, teaching assistants are assigned to specific discussion and lab sections based on each student’s time conflicts and preferences. In the lab courses that have many teaching assistants, the program coordinator usually makes the final assignments. In smaller courses, the teaching assistants may agree on a final schedule, subject to the approval of the instructor.

Graduate students as instructors of record:
In rare occasions, a graduate student may be assigned as the instructor of record. The selected courses are determined by undergraduate student instructional needs and interests and are offered only to senior graduate students with extensive training in the topic and teaching experience.

Summer teaching assistantships:
Summer teaching assistantships are limited, so international students receive priority because their visa status requires that they work only on campus. Students who have not yet or not recently held summer teaching assistantships are also given higher priority.