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Professors and their teaching assistants are a vital team in serving the learning needs of our students. Teaching assistants (TAs)* at Illinois often provide undergraduate students with their first exposure to core courses across a variety of disciplines. As such, TAs play a crucial role in the university’s efforts to ensure academic success among our student population. Teaching assistant responsibilities vary greatly and may include tutoring; holding office hours; monitoring tests or exams; or, facilitating group discussion activities in a face-to-face or online class.
The university supports professional skills development for TAs, with training aimed at enhancing teaching and learning effectiveness, fostering professional growth, promoting cross-disciplinary dialogue, and stimulating intellectual discussion and reflection.
CITL is an important part of nurturing the next generation of top educators. Notably, two campus-wide, pre-semester orientation programs for new TAs are held each August and January.
The Graduate Academy for College Teaching prepares TAs for classroom teaching responsibilities (lecture, discussion, laboratory, or studio) by engaging them in interactive sessions about teaching strategies and resources. The program is designed as a conference with choices of sessions on foundational teaching topics, discipline-based teaching topics, and language, culture, and diversity topics. Microteaching sessions, immediately following the Academy, provide the TAs with a safe and constructive environment to practice their teaching skills.
Feedback is provided to each TA in a consultation session early in the semester.
The Graduate Symposium on Grading & Office Hours is for those TAs who have non-classroom responsibilities such as grading and/or holding office hours. In large and small group sessions, TAs learn about effective and fair grading techniques and how to use office hours as an opportunity for good teaching and learning.
Note: Both programs have language and culture sessions to meet the University’s requirements for Appointment of Non-Native English Speaking Teaching Assistants. Departments register their TAs for these programs; individual TAs cannot register themselves.
*We generally refer to both domestic and international teaching assistants as TAs unless we are talking about specific requirements for international teaching assistants.