(Closed) Is it normal for TA’s to teach almost half of the class periods in a semester?

posted 6 years ago in College
  • poll: Normal? Acceptable?
    Yes, deal with it : (11 votes)
    55 %
    No : (6 votes)
    30 %
    Hell no! Complain to the dean, after the semester is over, of course : (3 votes)
    15 %
  • Post # 3
    6892 posts
    Busy Beekeeper
    • Wedding: March 2012

    Depending on where you go to school, this could be totally normal. I purposely chose a University that was completely against TA’s teaching often, because I wanted to learn from the actual professors. The TA’s sat in on classes and helped clarify during breaks, held office hours, graded papers, and I think usually taught 1-2 lessons during the semester but the Professor was always actually present for that.

    I know a lot of my friends that went to a well-known University in the area (not saying which) were often taught by TA’s. I think it may have something to do with size of schools also? Not sure. It would confuse me to not have consistency.

    Post # 4
    2281 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: June 2012

    I said to complain to the dean, but with this caveat: There should be a contract between the prof and the TAs that spells out the time expectations and what yuou are expected to do when. Variations from that contract should be reported to the dean. The contract is important because while TAs shouldn’t teach half the classes, they often do if there’s nothing in place to protect them from that (it’s not like you can say No). IF your school/department doesn’t do contracts, you should talk to your dean about whether your experience was unusual and whether they might consider requiring contracts between profs and TAs.

    Post # 5
    2702 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: November 2011

    I went to a small college where we didn’t have TAs. Darling Husband was a TA and he NEVER taught. I think he one lecture and that was it. He mostly was available for tutoring and out of office hours when the prof was off.

    Post # 6
    5296 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: January 1993

    I had classes where I never saw the actual professor. Fun when you purposely sign up to get an native English speaker for a class you know you will struggle in if you can’t understand, and get a TA who is decidedly not.

    Post # 7
    4352 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: August 2013

    I choose a school that does not have any TA taught classes. The only time anyone other than a professor is teaching is when students research a topic and share with the class for an assignment.

    But it might be normal at your school. It depends on the size and the school’s views on TA teaching.

    Post # 9
    191 posts
    Blushing bee

    I had some classes where the TA taught the whole semester and the Prof was never seen.

    Post # 10
    3241 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: May 2011

    @bells219:  It does vary a lot between schools. It might be that the TAs are required to do a certain amount of teaching before they can complete the PhD. If the Prof left the TAs alone to teach the class from the beginning, I’d say that’s out of line. But if the Prof has sat in on a number of classes that the TAs were teaching and has determined that the TAs are doing their job delivering the material, it’s not completely unusual for the Prof not to be there.

    I agree with @ProfessorGirl: that it might be worth talking with a dean about the inconsistencies in the class, but before going that route you might consider talking directly to the Prof about it. He/she may not be aware of the inconsistencies in teaching styles. If you are comfortable talking to the Prof about, things might change for the better before the end of the semester.

    Post # 11
    2299 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: June 2010

    My Darling Husband is a TA and he has had many classes where the TA’s teach a lot of classes. I think it really depends on the University, deptartment, and professor. He has only taught one and it was b/c his professor was having surgery, but he has reviews sessions and answers 99% of the questions.

    Post # 12
    1676 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: July 2012

    I’ve only had one class in my entire degree where the TA taught that much, and he was the lab instructor, so it didn’t really bother me. At my university, anyways, it’s not normal. Definately talk to the prof before you go to the Dean!

    Post # 13
    2866 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: June 2014

    Complaining will get you nowhere, that is how the cookie crumbles at many universities. I don’t even recall what some of my professor looked like because I am not sure I saw them more than once. 

    Post # 14
    2522 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: November 2013

    It’s so shitty and I hate how research universities choose to do this but yes, it’s unfortunately normal.  It royally pisses me off but whatever, universities don’t focus on teaching undergraduates anymore.  It’s all about graduate rankings and research dollars anymore.

    Post # 16
    318 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: October 2012

    I’m a TA, and I’ve never taught the lecture portion. We have a large class (150-160 students) and each TA is in charge of 10-20 students for a breakout section once per week, where we review, talk about assignments, and the like. I would check the syllabus and maybe talk to the professor if you’re frustrated, but I think what you’re experiencing is fairly common at a lot of universities. I wouldn’t go to the dean unless it’s a last resort, because I have a feeling you may just end up wasting your time. 

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