University of Connecticut

Teaching Assistant Program Pages

The Department of Mathematics runs the TA Training Program to give support and guidance to its graduate students in teaching issues. This program is coordinated by the Graduate Director for Instructional Development

News and Announcements: Academic Year 2017 – 2018

For additional teaching-related information please scroll down the page or click on the links below:

Things to know before classes start

Things to know during the semester

Things to know at the end of the semester and beyond

Things to know before classes start:
  • When do classes start?

The Academic Calendar has important dates, including first day of classes, semester break, finals week, and more.

  • What online course management and enrollment systems do we use?

Online course management is through HuskyCT. It can be used to keep track of students’ grades, deliver announcements, provide course materials, and ways for them to communicate with you and with each other. Our online registration is handled by  Peoplesoft Student Admin, which is where you will enter final grades at the end of the semester.

  • Where are my classes and who are my students?

The official source for classroom locations and rosters is the Peoplesoft Student Admin system.  HuskyCT and the math department Courses page are populated from Peoplesoft data, but changes may not appear immediately.  You can view pictures of your students in Peoplesoft, which can help with learning names.

  • What are my responsibilities?

First, read the UConn Math TA Responsibilities.  A (non-exhaustive) list of common math topics you should know can be found here.  The Institute for Teaching and Learning (ITL) also has a more general TA Handbook for all UConn TAs.  If you’re unsure about any of your responsibilities, talk to the Graduate Director for Instructional Development or your course coordinator.  New TAs must take Math 5000.

  • Who is my course coordinator?

Your course coordinator can be found in the math department Courses page. When in doubt about any aspects of the course you are teaching, ask your course coordinator. You should meet with your coordinator before classes start and regularly during the semester according to your coordinator’s instructions.

  • What should I put in my syllabus?

Read the Syllabus Guidelines.  Your course coordinator may also have a template for you to follow, and all administrative details (grading breakdown, makeup policy, etc.) should match those set by your coordinator.

  • How do I make a web page?

A training session during orientation week – check your schedule.  In addition, the IT department has put together instructions on creating your personal department web page or a page for a course you are teaching.

  • How do I use the high-tech classroom tools?

Some classrooms are equipped with high-tech gadgets — computers, document cameras, SMART boards or SMART podiums, i>Clickers, and so on.  If you plan on using them, practice beforehand and make sure you know how to use the system.  Instructions and help can be found through Audiovisual Technology Services (ATS).  Feel free to get in touch with Myron Minn-Thu-Aye, who can discuss any classroom technology issues with you, and can provide pointers or more formal training, if desired.  You may also need a key to access the equipment; see the ATS page for more information.

  • Where do I go if I have questions? (about WebAssign, calculators, permission numbers, anything else)

If you have questions about your course in particular, talk to your course coordinator or another TA teaching the same course.  If you have questions about teaching in general, bring them up in Math 5000, talk to the Graduate Director for Instructional Development, talk to your TA Network mentor, talk to other TAs or professors in our department, or ask ITL.  If you have WebAssign questions, consult our TA Resources page, which includes several video tutorials on common tasks in WebAssign.  Also, Myron Minn-Thu-Aye is the go-to person for all things classroom technology-related.  More information can be found on the Department wiki, including the graduate student handbook or course specific information pages.  Information that is not specific to UConn can be found in the MAA’s Teaching Assistant Handbook.

 

Things to know during the semester:
  • Where can my students get help?

The Q Center offers tutoring help for all lower level math classes.  It’s a valuable resource for your students — encourage them to use it!  Also encourage them to visit your office hours (see the next bullet)!

  • Remind your students and yourself of important dates and times!

Make sure to check on due dates for assignments, dates of exams, and when your office hours are so that you can keep reminding your students of these things.  This is information that cannot be repeated enough; someone will always forget.

  • What should I do if I run into teaching difficulties?

We all face challenging teaching experiences.  These difficulties may have to do with your development as an instructor, but could also have to do with a specific student or group of students you are teaching.  The department offers support in many different ways.  Always feel free to talk to Fabiana, Myron, the Department Head, your course coordinator, your professors, or your fellow TAs to help you assess any problems and make a plan to get support to resolve them.  As issues arise, make sure to address them and speak to someone about them so you can work towards improving your students’ learning experience and your own teaching experience.

  • How can I become a better teacher?

Get a good start through Math 5000.  Get course feedback from your students — you don’t have to wait until evaluations at the end of the semester.  Invite an experienced TA or faculty member to come observe you and give feedback.  Go observe more experienced TA’s (perhaps your TA Mentor, if you have one), or ask to observe a well-regarded instructor — we have many!  Attend a workshop or take part in a program offered by ITL through their Teaching Assistant Programs.  Read about teaching: some great tips and further reading are available from Chuck Vinsonhaler, Professor Emeritus.  Bruce Reznick also has advice for a new math TA.  Don’t want to read too much?  Check out the highlights in a poster.  In general, relax, practice, and enjoy it.  Enthusiasm and a genuine desire to help your students can take you very far.

  • What should I do about cheating?

UConn students are bound by the UConn Academic Integrity Code; however, cheating may happen. General guidelines are available; however, every situation is different. If cheating is suspected, document suspected cases and communicate with your course coordinator or David Gross who will help you deal appropriately with the situation.

 

Things to know at the end of the semester and beyond:
  • How do student evaluations work?

Student Evaluations of Teaching (SET) are now done online at UConn. It’s important that you follow the instructions. These evaluations often provide useful insight that we would not have had otherwise, so make sure to encourage student participation in SET over the last few weeks of the semester.  You can give students a small amount of time in class to complete SET on their mobile devices.

  • When are my final exams?

The exams for large courses (e.g., Calculus I and II, Precalculus, Math 1070, etc.) are usually given on the Friday or Saturday at the end of Exams week. The registrar will post the final schedule midway through the semester. You need to be familiar with UConn’s final exam policies!  In order to reschedule a final exam, a student must obtain approval from the Dean of Students’ office, who will send an e-mail to you to confirm this approval.

  • Make sure to enter final grades!

University policy requires final grades to be submitted within 72 hours of the corresponding final exam.  If you are teaching a coordinated course, be sure to follow your coordinator’s instructions on the submission of final grades.  These submissions are done through our Peoplesoft Student Admin system.

  • Why should I care about teaching?

For all of you, teaching will be an integral part of your job for the next few years. You might or might not end up in a teaching career, but regardless, the ability to communicate your thoughts and explain ideas to various audiences is a valuable skill.  Teaching is a fantastic way to deepen your own understanding of mathematics, and it provides opportunities to learn different perspectives on and approaches to problem-solving. It’s important to build your skills so that (a) you can be an effective teacher and (b) you can be recognized for good performance, receive good recommendations, and further your career. As you start gaining experience, start thinking about your teaching philosophy and letters of recommendation. Aim to earn an award for good teaching!

 


Mathemagician “Teaching and research are
mutually supporting activities.”
— The Mathemagician
What can we do to improve the usefulness of these webpages?

E-mail your suggestions to Fabiana Cardetti, fabiana.cardetti at uconn.edu