TA Responsibilities

Introduction

When you have been awarded a teaching assistantship (TA), it is a good opportunity to develop teaching and professional skills. Being a good teacher requires a solid understanding of technical material so that you can:
  • Clearly explain it to a novice
  • Mentor students through their laboratory assignments
  • Have productive discussions with the professor teaching the course
  • Relate it to other fields when appropriate

Developing teaching ability is a continuous process that requires the willingness to change, and the investment of time.

If you wish to pursue an academic faculty position, the TA experience will prove invaluable. If you wish to pursue a career as an engineer, the communication and interpersonal skills you develop become increasingly important as you advance to more responsible positions.

Serving as a TA will be a challenging but rewarding experience.


Click on a category to reveal more information.

TA's are typically appointed to one or two laboratory sections per semester. Each laboratory section is 10 hours of work per week. Therefore, a TA assigned to two laboratory sections has 20 hours of work per week.


TA's will work under the supervision of one or more professors

They report directly to their supervising professors, who determine their responsibilities. Depending on the nature of the course, this may include teaching one or more laboratory sessions, preparing and grading assignment and exam questions, holding office hours, etc.

They will be provided a job description for their assigned course(s) (see example job description form).

A supervising professor is expected to attend at least one laboratory session or recitation session held by their TA, and provide feedback oriented toward developing and improving teaching skills. They will meet with their TA's regularly (weekly meetings are recommended) to discuss course topics, teaching skills development, and synchronization between the lecture and laboratory/recitation components.


TA's must be prepared for their teaching assignments

  • TA's are encouraged to attend the lecture courses of their appointed laboratory sessions. For example, the TA for EE 361L is expected to attend the lectures for EE 361; and the TA for EE 211 is expected to attend the lectures for EE 211. This will ensure that TA's are familiar with the course content.
  • Before each laboratory session, the TA's must do the laboratory assignments themselves. This will ensure that they are familiar with the assignments and will be able to answer any questions.
  • Before each laboratory session, the TA's must check and ensure equipment and components are available and in working order. Lost, damaged, or malfunctioning equipment and supplies must be reported immediately to the supervising instructor and the EE Department Technician Myron Sugiki (msugiki@hawaii.edu). TA's who need components should provide a specific list several weeks in advance so that they can be ordered. Myron will not pick up supplies. The Department will not reimburse students or TA's for laboratory supplies that are bought for experiments.
  • Before each laboratory session, the TA's must check that the computer hardware and software, Internet access, and department server access are available and in working order. They should check that the printer (if present) is working and there is printer paper and toner. Lost, damaged, or malfunctioning computer software, hardware, accessories or supplies must be reported immediately to the supervising instructor and the Information Technology Support person, June Akers (jakers@hawaii.edu).

TA's with lab sections are responsible for maintaining a clean, professional, and safe environment

TA's:

  • Must be familiar with safety rules and procedures.
  • Must never leave students in a laboratory unattended.
  • Must lock the laboratories when they are not in session.
  • Should stop and report students who abuse equipment.
  • Should stop and report students who misuse computers such as downloading inappropriate software and files. Violation of these rules may result in students being dropped from the laboratory section.
  • Should be familiar with ethical standards of teaching and engineering. They should promote and enforce these standards.
  • Are encouraged to meet informally throughout the semester, to discuss their experiences and to compare notes on best practices.

TA's must be familiar with the department staff

TA's must be familiar with the department staff and the staffs' responsibilities.

TA's should personally introduce themselves to each of the department staff, before the semester starts or as soon as possible; and become familiar with the staff office locations, email addresses and telephone numbers.

  • Myron Sugiki
    • Electronic Technician: Responsible for
      • Instructional laboratory components such as integrated circuit chips, protoboards
      • Electronic instruments such as oscilloscopes, multimeters, signal generators, power supplies
      • Tools such as wire cutters, wire strippers, EPROM programmer
      • Instructional circuit boards
    • Contact information:
  • June Akers:
    • Information Technology Support: Responsible for computer hardware and software including computer accessories (such as computer printer) and computer supplies (such as printer paper and toner). Also responsible for Internet access and department servers.
    • Contact information:
      • Email: jakers@hawaii.edu
        • include "urgent" in subject line if appropriate
      • Office: Holmes Hall 452
      • Telephone:
        • (808) 956 9738 (office)
        • (808) 956 4149 (server room)
  • Ling Ma:
    • Department Student Services Support Specialist (aka Secretary): Responsible for the department office in Holmes 483. From the department office, TA's can get office supplies and access to the photocopy machine.
    • Contact information:

TA's must post office hours

TA's must have office hours in their instructional laboratories. They may not have their office hours in their TA offices unless their assigned laboratory course does not have a physical laboratory. For example, EE 160 does not have a laboratory room. But most laboratory sections do. EE 211, EE 213, EE 260, EE 323L, EE 341L, EE 351L, EE 361L, etc., all have laboratory rooms, e.g., EE 361L is in Holmes Hall 451. TA's for these laboratories must have their office hours in the lab rooms.

Before the semester begins, the TA's must notify the EE Office (in Holmes Hall 483) about their hours (days and times) and location. Send the information to eeoffice@hawaii.edu:

  • Subject heading: "TA Office Hours"
  • Content should include
    • TA name
    • Course number, e.g., EE 361L
    • Section number(s), e.g, Sections 1 and 2
    • Days and times, e.g., MWF 1230-130
    • Office hours location, e.g., Holmes Hall 451

TA's should check if their office hours have been posted at the department web site.

The reason why office hours are in the laboratory rooms is to have equipment and computers available for students with questions. Also, it allows students to get extra time to go over lab assignments in the laboratory room.

The amount of weekly office hours per week should be part of the job description and discussed with the supervising faculty. An example is one office hour per week per lab section. Thus, a TA with two lab sections will be available twice a week, for an hour per availability; therefore, a total of 2 hours per week.


TA's must understand and follow the information and instructions below

It is important that TA's understand the following to avoid problems and provide a good experience for students.

  • Orientation: This describes the TA orientation activities and meetings that occur at the beginning or before the semester.
  • Reporting Failures: Contact information and links to forms. 
  • Ethics: This includes a document about ethics as well as a link to the University of Hawaii student code of conduct.
  • Office and Teaching Resources: This describes useful resources available for teaching.
  • Performance Evaluation: This has information about how TA's are evaluated and consequences of the evaluations.

TA checklist

  • TA Checklist: TA's should use this checklist to ensure that they are on schedule.

All new TA's must attend pre-semester training sessions given by the Center for Teaching Excellence. This includes TA's who were previously students at the University of Hawaii. New international TA's are required to attend an additional half-day pre-semester training session. The schedule for the TA training can be found at the web site for the Center for Teaching Excellence under "Events". You may also register online.

All new TA's are also required to attend a departmental orientation session, given by the Graduate Chair and support staff.

Please contact the EE Instructional and Student Support Specialist, for information about these orientation sessions at eeoffice@hawaii.edu.


Lost, damaged, or malfunctioning equipment and supplies must be reported immediately to the supervising instructor and

Myron Sugiki
EE Department Technician
Room: Holmes 457
Tel: (808) 956-8359
Email: msugiki@hawaii.edu

If you need supplies for the lab, please fill out the Parts Requisition Form and submit to Myron or the EE Office, Holmes 483.

For Holmes computers:
June Akers
EE Department IT Specialist
Room: Holmes 452
Tel: (808) 956-9738
Email: jakers@hawaii.edu

For POST and wiliki computers:
Thong Lien
College of Engineering
Room: Holmes 250
Tel: (808) 956-2298
Email: tlien@hawaii.edu



TAs may have access to EE Office resources at Holmes Hall 483 (see Department Instructional and Student Support Specialist):

  • Photocopying:  The EE Office will issue you a code for the Copier Machine. If you do not have one, please stop by the EE Office.  THE COPY MACHINES ARE NOT FOR PERSONAL USE (I.E. HOMEWORK).  The machines are for Departmental uses only.  Photocopying of books is not permitted.
  • Office supplies and equipment for laboratories:  Notify the EE Office staff when you borrow equipment and use supplies. Promptly return office equipment used for your teaching duties.  Office supplies are not for use in your own classroom presentations.

TAs may be assigned a desk in an office, different from their instructional laboratory.  They should be cooperative with their officemates, e.g., keep their office and common areas clean (contain rubbish to the trash can) and secure from outside intruders.  Non-cooperation may result in the loss of the privilege of having an office space.


The performance of TAs will be evaluated by their supervising professors and students at the end of the semester.  The results of these evaluations will be made available to the TA after grades have been posted, and will be used in making future assignments.  The supervising professor's written evaluation will include observations of teaching effectiveness, technical competence, communication skills, and timeliness in completing assignments.  

In the last week of your lab, encourage your students to complete the online evaluations at the university Course Evaluation System, https://www.hawaii.edu/ces during the last week of the semester. Time permitting, set aside class time at the beginning of a lab for them to complete the surveys on the lab computers. You can request a copy of your evaluation results from the course instructor about 2 weeks after the semester.

Note that the continuation of a TA appointment is determined by performance. Poor performance will result in the termination of an appointment. An appointment as a TA for one year is not a guarantee of employment for one year.




Before the semester

  • Read the above information for TA's
  • Prepare the documents for the TA including
  • Meet with the TA. If you are unavailable, have the above information prepared and leave it with the EE Office for your TA. Include a memo with instructions. These need to be done well in advance of the semester because TA's will arrive about a month before.
  • Be sure the TA is familiar with safety procedures.
  • Be sure the TA knows what to do if there are equipment, computer, or component problems.

At the beginning of the semester

  • Sit in on a lab session. Then meet with the TA to provide feedback towards developing and improving teaching skills.
  • Be sure the TA has office hours, and that they are in the laboratory if possible. The office hours should be posted on our EE web site under the Undergraduate section for TA Office Hours.

During the semester

  • Meet with your TA regularly (weekly is recommended)

At the end of the semester