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TAing Required Undergraduate Courses

The following non-introductory courses are required for the Physics major:

  • PHYS 70 -- Foundations of Modern Physics (required for 40-series students)
  • PHYS 120/121 -- Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism I and II (first upper-division course taken by majors)
  • PHYS 130/131 -- Quantum Mechanics I and II
  • PHYS 170/171 -- Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory, and Statistical Mechanics I and II
  • PHYS 110 -- Advanced Mechanics ("mezzanine" course, cross-listed with Physics 210 and taken by both undergraduate and graduate students) treated like undergraduate courses as far as TA responsibilities are concerned.  
  • PHYS 111 -- Partial Differential Equations of Mathematical Physics
  • PHYS 112 -- Mathematical Methods of Theoretical Physics (one option for advanced math requirement)

This page ONLY deals with the responsibilities for PHYS 171 and 112 TAs.  The responsibilities for TAs in the other required courses are here.

A TA appointment for PHYS 171 and 112 is a 25% appointment.   TAs for these courses should expect to spend 10 hours per week, averaged over the quarter, on the following TA responsibilities:

  1. Lead a weekly 80-minute discussion section.
    • Weekly discussion sections are held for all courses that are required for the Physics major.  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; returning exams to students; generating statistics for the exam.