Every mechanical engineering TA needs to continually improve, and one way to improve is to continually educate yourself in the art and craft of teaching. For that reason, TAs are required to invest in their professional development by completing several commitments. These commitments are listed below. All are to be submitted via the TA Canvas site before the last day of classes in the semester.
- Peer Observation — Will complete and report a peer observation before the last day of classes.
- Continuing Education — Will complete and report on one TA continuing education activity before the last day of classes.
|Attend a workshop|
|Complete an online tutorial|
|Take an online course|
|Read a book on teaching methods|
|Watch a webinar|
|Listen to a podcast|
Every semester there is a commitment for TAs to be evaluated prior to the last day of classes. The evaluation results will be compiled and placed in your graduate records. All evaluations in ME are done through the Student Services Office. Note that there is more than one type of evaluation and they are not all the same!
Commitment: Be evaluated by the students of your course. This evaluation should not be confused with the course evaluation, which is separate and relates to the course instructor.
For Fall 2020, all evaluations will be completed online.
Student Services will announce when evaluations are available.
Current Evaluation Types
1. Evaluation of Teaching Assistants by Students
TAs for each course are evaluated by their students. The ME Student Services Office will announce when/if hard copies of evaluations become available each semester.
Students enrolled in the course are asked to evaluate the course TA(s) via the departmental form listed below. Please see the Process Flowchart to determine if you are exempt.
2. Evaluation of TA by course instructor
The instructor for the course evaluates their TAs by completing the form found at the link below.
FAQs, Policies, and Additional Resources
Just because you have the job doesn't guarantee you no longer have questions.
I received an offer for a position. What does the appointment % mean?
The % amount of a TA offer is very misleading. Does the amount stand for time, money, or tuition waiver? All TA positions are assigned as percentages (instead of full-time, half-time, or part-time). Listed below you will find the breakdown of the most common appointment. If you have further questions or fall into a different category than a 25% appointment, visit Graduate Assistant Tuition Benefits.
25% Appointment Means
- 12 hours of work* per wk (~196 hours per semester) - details should be discussed with the course instructor
- half-time employment for students
- eligibility for health insurance
- 1/2 tuition waiver up to 14 credits
- 1/2 of semester monetary stipend (for example, 196 hours @ $25.00/hr = $4900)
*Due to biweekly pay periods, weekly work hours are not equal to weekly paid hours.
What is Canvas and how do I get access?
Canvas is a learning management system (LMS) that allow users to create and manage online learning materials and activities for their course. It is the job of the course instructor to determine users and request the course site from the University's Office of Information Technology (OIT). For more information, including user guides for both students and instructors, visit the Canvas website.
What are my commitments as a TA?
It is our expectation that by accepting the offer, you are agreeing to the commitments listed on the Job Commitments page. Once the semester starts, the Department will also begin compiling your commitment history. This history will be manually applied toward any future TA applications you may submit to ME. Incomplete commitments factor in when equally qualified students are recommended for the same position.
How do I make copies?
Once your appointment is confirmed, all TAs are granted permissions for copying. The main copier for TA us in ME 116. There are other copiers, but their use should be limited as they are older models and not readily accessible without assistance.
- ME 116 - TA Copier - UCARD is needed for entry - Copier requires log-in and password
- ME 2101 - Faculty Copier - access to room depends on occupants - Copier requires log-in and password
- ME 316 - Backup Copier - access requires special door code - Copier requires log-in and password
Instructions and passwords can be found in ME 116 - if not supplied by the beginning of the semester. If you are assigned a position AFTER the workshop and your access card doesn’t work, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Must Assigned ME TAs with ELPs other than 1 enroll in Grad 5105?
Yes. By our departmental policy, assigned TAs with an ELP other than 1 are required to enroll in GRAD 5105. Enrollment should occur prior to the start of classes - even if the TA is waiting to take a scheduled SETTA. The class can be dropped once the Center for Educational Innovation (CEI) sends an email directly to the ME Department, DGS or TA Coordinator confirming the TA has achieved an ELP of 1.
What will my job duties be?
Each course will require responsibilities that will differ depending on the professor. Only they can answer when and how you will do things. Be sure to utilize the resource, First Meeting with Course Instructors when you meet with the instructor to determine your responsibilities for your official first day/week.
Will I get a paper official letter of appointment?
The first email you received detailing the TA position and asking you to accept is an Offer letter. Even though not printed on letterhead, this electronic document is the official notice of appointment recognized by the ME Department. Sometimes, this document is also referred to as an Appointment letter. Students do not receive a printed, formal letter since it is not necessary. However, if you must have something on official letterhead, please contact the ME payroll office or email email@example.com and ask for a Verification of Appointment letter. Usually this is only needed if you plan on leaving the country.
How do I arrange for office hours?
Before you reserve space, you need to determine with the instructor how many people will attend the office hours weekly. Will the average be < 8 people or will there be > 8 people? Note that there is only ONE room for office hours in Mechanical Engineering: ME 2121 (new location beginning F15). Additionally, it is Departmental policy that ME conference rooms are NOT to be used for weekly office hours.
- Small Groups (less than 8 students) = schedule ME 2121
- ME 2121 contains three tables eligible for office hours
- Tables are scheduled on a first come, first served basis
- To make requests, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- Your name
- Your course number
- Instructor name
- Time(s) of day desired
- Days(s) of the week desired
- Large Groups = schedule using ASTRA
- All TAs must use ASTRA Schedule to locate and request a room.
- Please note that ASTRA is a newer scheduling tool for the University and as such, it is not very user-friendly.
- We highly recommend you view the tutorials found on upper right under the UMN Astra Schedule Help Desk section of the Astra home page.
- Contact email@example.com (Office of Classroom Management) should you have any questions.
- Small Groups (less than 8 students) = schedule ME 2121
How do I get paid?
University Employees get paid bi-weekly (see University payroll calendars).
In the ME Department, ME Payroll, firstname.lastname@example.org, located in ME 1100 ensures your information is entered into University system for payments. Delays only tend to occur if the student is a new University employee or if the semester / pay period already began. Employees will receive a general confirmation from ME Payroll with their pay rates. Note this notification is different from a letter of appointment, and a delay in receiving this confirmation DOES NOT INDICATE a delay in your payroll.
Do I need to buy my own textbook?
The ME department provides textbooks for instructors and TAs through the Student Services Office. Check with your instructor, then send an email verifying the textbook to email@example.com. If a copy is available and you're on campus, pick up can be arranged. If not, the Student Services Office can send it out, so be sure to include the mailing address in your email.
How do I get supplies for my course?
Some of the ME suites, such as 1100, 2101 and 3101, usually have general items available for both Instructors and TAs. These items are limited to markers, for recitation/office hours and red pens for grading. For any other items, it’s up to you to start the purchasing process. For specific questions, contact ME's Purchasing office or email firstname.lastname@example.org.