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TAing Undergraduate Elective Courses

The following courses are electives for Physics majors:

  • PHYS 113 -- Computational Physics
  • PHYS 134 -- Advanced Topics in Quantum Mechanics
  • PHYS 152 -- Introduction to Particle Physics I
  • PHYS 160 -- Introduction to Stellar and Galactic Astrophysics
  • PHYS 161 -- Introduction to Extrastellar Astrophysics and Cosmology
  • PHYS 172 -- Solid State Physics

Some of these courses are "mezzanine" courses -- i.e., they are cross-listed as both 100- and 200-level courses that are taken by both undergraduate and graduate students.  These mezzanined courses are treated like undergraduate courses as far as TA responsibilities are concerned.  

A teaching assistantship for these courses is a 25% appointment.   As a TA you will spend 10 hours per week, averaged over the quarter.  TA responsibilities for PHYS 152 TAs are listed here; TA responsibilities for all other courses are listed below.

  1. Lead a weekly 75- or 90-minute discussion section if the course instructor requires it.
    • Weekly discussion sections are encouraged and may be required by the instructor. These discussion sections should facilitate active learning.  To engage students, the TAs and/or instructor select problems that are well-suited for group problem solving. (The optimal number is 3 students per group.)  After a very brief introduction by the TA to the physics introduced that week, students work on problems in groups, while the TA asks the students questions, answers their questions, and helps them develop a deeper understanding of the material.  TAs are encouraged to minimize the amount of time they are "lecturing at the board" or "holding the markers".
    • Discussion section time is usually determined on the first day of class based on TA and student availability.  Discussion sections should not be scheduled during the dinner hour (5 to 7 pm).  However, sections can be held at either 4:15 to 5:30 pm or 7:00 to 8:15 pm.  Like lectures, discussion sections must start at specific start times; check with Elva once a scheduling window has been identified.
    • Discussion sections should not be scheduled the day before the problem set is due.  Office hours -- not discussion section -- are appropriate for dealing with problem-set-related questions.
  2. Hold office hours (2 hours per week) -- students are polled to identify a time that works for those students who are likely to come to office hours.
  3. Grade problem sets.  Grades must be entered on Canvas and graded problem sets must be returned to students at least two days before the next problem set is due.  Canvas is used to send out announcements to the entire class about common mistakes on the problem set that has just been graded.
  4. Write solutions to problem sets -- if there are multiple TAs for a class, the TAs take turns writing solutions.
  5. Assist with miscellaneous tasks, which may include
    • Submitting possible questions for the exam -- you are not responsible for writing the exam since that is the instructor's responsibility.
    • Proof-reading the exam; taking the exam to assess clarity and the length of the exam; writing up solutions.
    • Leading review sessions before the exams.
    • Administering the exam; making sure there are "blue books" available, etc.
    • Grading the exam; entering grades on Canvas for courses that are not using Gradescope; returning paper exams to students or releasing exams on Gradescope; generating statistics for the exam.