Teaching Assistance


Teaching Assistantships (TA)

The E&PS Departments's ability to provide TA resources depends first and foremost on the annual total Teaching Assistantships allocation to our department from the PBSci Division. The number of TAs allocated to any given course is based on projected enrollments from historical data and the target student-to-TA ratios listed below. Historically, the department has prioritized the allocation of teaching assistantships to our upper-division majors classes as reflected in these target ratios. In the event of significant changes in the TA Allocation from the Division, the Curriculum Committee, in concert with the EPS Chair, Faculty Graduate Representative and Administrative Staff will revise the target ratios and thus TA allocations to individual courses.

Each spring during their annual review, graduate students, in consultation with their advisor(s), review potential funding sources and estimate the number of TAships required for the following year. Graduate students are asked to provide: (1) number of requested TAships, and (2) a ranked list of five courses that they are qualified to teach. Typically, the department is able to meet graduate student needs; however, requests for second and third TA assignments do receive lower priority.

In August, the Graduate Advisor and Faculty Graduate Representative produce a preliminary TAship assignment schedule, attempting to balance curricular demands with graduate student funding needs and course preferences. The draft TA assignment schedule is circulated first to faculty and then graduate students for feedback prior to issuance of appointment letters at the beginning of each academic quarter. Assignments are revised quarterly in response to evolving graduate student funding needs. In addition, course enrollments significantly out of balance with the target student-to-TA ratios may trigger a revision of the TA allocation. Enrollment caps are encouraged to stay within, but not below, the target ratio.

Target student-to-TA ratios

Introductory-level courses: 100 students / 0-1 TA
EART Major courses 20-30 students / TA
Field-intensive EART Major courses 10-15 students / TA

Other Course Resources

We encourage the use of Teaching Assistant Apprentices (TAA) and, where necessary, Readers to offset the impact of limited TA resources.


Instructors for courses with significant grading overhead or high student / TA ratios may request reader hours in the range of 50 to 100 hours/quarter. Graders/Readers are paid employees who may grade student work, attend lectures and/or labs, and meet with supervisors. Graders/Readers may not lead sections or tutor. Lab or lecture attendance might be warranted to improve reader command of the graded material.

Procedure: To begin this process, email the Graduate Advisor with the Graders/Reader’s name, email address, student status, start date and total hours. This information is used to create an appointment letter which is required to proceed with the hiring process. The hiring process must be completed before the Reader can begin work, so please plan ahead.

Teaching Assistant Apprentices

Enlisting TAAs is a very good way to augment your teaching resources in lab, section or in the field. TAAs are unpaid apprentices enrolled for independent study credit in either EART 196B (5 credits, 12-15 hours/week) or EART 196C (2 Credits, 6 hours/week). The apprentice may lead section, hold office hours, and help with labs and/or field exercises. TAAs may not grade student work.

Procedure: Enrollment in this independent study course requires a form to be filled out with the EPS Undergraduate Advisor. Jade Loftus is currently in the process of developing an online version of this form. After the form is completed, a code is generated with which the student can enroll using the online course registration system.

Recruitment of TAAs and Readers is typically the responsibility of the individual instructors. Commonly these assignments are given to strongly performing students from previous classes. If you are looking for assistance in finding either, the Graduate Advisor and Undergraduate Advisor commonly field requests for these assignments and may have suggestions for you. An individual student may be both a reader and a TAA; however, strict division of workload must be enforced.