Biology Graduate Program Teaching Assistantships
The chair and members of the Graduate Assistantship Selection Committee serve as the selection committee for awarding teaching assistantships.
When positions are available, application materials will be solicited twice each year: March 15 for fall assistantships and Oct. 15 for spring assistantships. To be eligible for consideration, an applicant must have completed 18 hours of graduate course work (biology and secondary specialization).
Applicants must submit:
- A letter of application that includes information concerning the applicant’s background, interests and experience relevant to the position
- A completed University Graduate and Teaching Assistantship Application
- Three letters of reference that speak to the applicant’s teaching experience, background/knowledge relevant to the position and interest in teaching
- Official transcripts for all college coursework
To be considered by the committee, all application materials must be submitted to the committee chair by the above dates. The department head and the chairperson of the committee will decide if the application period needs to be reopened. This decision will be based on the number and quality of the applications received.
Evaluation Procedure for Teaching Assistantships
Each applicant will be evaluated on these criteria:
- GPA in junior/senior biology courses
- Relevant experience and background
- Teaching potential
Relevant Experience and Background
An applicant with experience and appropriate background (i.e., took the course and made an A or B as an undergraduate and/or served as a graduate assistant for the course) will receive the highest ranking.
Fewer points are credited to those applicants who have not been directly involved with the course, but who have demonstrated the ability to teach the material (i.e. excellent grades in related courses, experience in giving presentations). No points will be awarded to those applicants having no related background or experience.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation must address the applicant’s interest in teaching and his/her ability to teach.
This portion of the evaluation is the most difficult to define and evaluate, but is also the most important. Based on letters of recommendation and the overall impression of the applicant, committee members must address the applicant’s ability to teach.
These types of questions will need to be answered:
- Does the applicant have the necessary knowledge in the subject area?
- Does the applicant have a professional demeanor?
- Will the applicant be able to work well with students?
- Does the applicant have the confidence to present material and control the classroom?
- Does the applicant have the fortitude for unpleasant confrontations – without becoming flustered or defensive?
- Would faculty members be comfortable allowing this applicant to teach their classes?
Each committee member will independently score applicants in each of the four areas. Then, the sums from each committee member will be tallied for each applicant. These scores will be used to rank the applicants by position and these rankings will be used to award assistantships.
It is also the committee’s responsibility to determine the acceptability of applicants. This responsibility begins with the top-ranking candidate and continues for each listed candidate.
The committee has the choice of sending one of several recommendations to the department head:
- Award no assistantships, reopen the application period or temporarily fill the position with a lecturer.
- Award available assistantships to all applicants in the ranked order.
- Award assistantships only to the applicants listed (the top three candidates) and reopen the application period for additional or unfilled assistantships.
Term of Employment
Teaching assistants are employed for a nine-month period (fall and spring semesters). Student evaluations are required for each semester of employment. There is no guarantee of summer employment or second-year employment.
Normally, teaching assistants will not be employed past the first year. However, if students have not completed graduation requirements, have performed their teaching duties to the satisfaction of the department and the department has need of their teaching abilities, they may be employed as teaching assistants for an additional semester or year.
The department head and chairperson of the selection committee will make the decision whether to extend employment.