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GTA: Roles and Responsibilities
A graduate teaching assistant, also known as a GTA, is a graduate student who provides assistance to a professor with miscellaneous teaching activities at a college or university. The individual is generally an actively enrolled student, providing such services to help fund their education. Graduate students have to meet certain requirements before being able to take this job.
At Missouri S&T the prospective GTA has to meet the following requirements:
1. to be enrolled in a related academic program
2. to be nominated by the department for the GTA appointment
3. to complete a training program during the GTA workshop
4. to successfully complete the GTA Assessment (grade B+ or above).
It may not be uncommon to dedicate some unpaid working hours as part of the training process.
College and university classes can be very large, which can make this position quite demanding. For this reason, an individual seeking to become a teaching assistant should be people-oriented, good with giving instructions, and proficient with time management. Typically, a graduate teaching assistant should be prepared to assume all roles of the active professor, should he or she be needed in the professor's absence. Thus, the tasks of a teaching assistant can be very extensive. Typical responsibilities may include assisting the professor by administering tests, grading homework and examinations, lecturing, and leading discussion sessions. Most assistants will also provide tutoring. A teaching assistant may be required to hold office hours to meet with students in the event that the professor is unavailable.
Being a graduate teaching assistant can undoubtedly be a rewarding experience. Aside from monetary gain, students wishing to pursue teaching careers may take this position to gain instructional experience in an academic environment. A position such as this can be particularly beneficial for someone seeking to sharpen his or her teaching skills for a future career.
Every department has different duties, roles and expectations for their GTAs. Be sure to check with your department on what they need from you.