Teaching Fellow Expectations

Teaching fellows are very important contributors to the departmental teaching mission. We value the investment of time and effort that teaching fellows make each semester.  The information provided here is generally common-sense, but published mainly for completeness.

Basic Expectations

Here are some basic expectations of teaching fellows. This is by no means meant to be a complete list. You should speak directly (and frequently) with the instructor of your assigned course to determine specific expectations.

  1. Teaching fellows should meet with the instructor before the first day of classes, unless otherwise negotiated with the instructor and agreed upon in writing (email).
  2. Teaching fellow duties begin as of the first day of classes.
  3. Teaching fellow duties last through finals period until course grades for that course are computed and submitted. Leaving town before grades are submitted is not acceptable, because it can lead to major problems in submitting final course grades.
  4. There are absolutely no cancellations of labs, tutor hours, or office hours without prior approval of the instructor in writing (email). Students rely on the regular schedule and availability of the teaching fellow.
  5. Office hours should be scheduled on multiple days (not all on one day). Office hours should be held in an appropriate location and at times useful to the students (actual times must be worked out with the instructor).
  6. Teaching fellows should be professional, courteous, and helpful with students during office hours, labs, and tutoring hours. Students should feel welcome to ask questions. Teaching fellows should be patient in explaining material and answering student questions. Teaching fellows should give appropriate feedback to students to help reinforce confidence in their learning.
  7. Teaching fellows should respond to email from students and the instructor in a timely fashion. This means that replies to course-related emails should be sent within one business day. Email boxes cannot be left “full,” causing student email to be returned (use proper forwarding from your ACS account).
  8. All duties should be carried out in a timely fashion.
  9. Teaching fellows are responsible for knowing the course material, and should study/review the course material, and speak with the instructor if they are unsure.

Historically, the grand majority of teaching fellows have done an excellent job! In the rare case when a teaching fellow is not fulfilling his or her duties, he or she will be formally warned.   In extreme or repeat cases, the failure to carry out teaching fellowship duties will result in termination of the fellowship.

Weekly Duties and Time Allocation

This will be discussed in CS 699. While actual duties vary depending on your course assignment, here is a rough estimate of weekly duties and time allocation:

  • Conducting labs: 3 hours
  • Preparation for labs: 3 hours
  • Office hours: 3 hours
  • Tutoring hour: 1 hour
  • Meet with instructor: 1 hour
  • Answering email from students: 3 hours
  • Course administration: 3 hours
  • Miscellaneous: 1–3 hours

Total: 18–20 hours/week (estimate)

Note that actual duties vary. Be sure to ask the instructor about this. For instance, some instructors may ask that the teaching fellow also attend the course lectures and/or help with grading tests, writing problem sets, maintaining course web pages, recording grades in a spreadsheet, software maintenance, etc. Regular communication with the instructor is essential in coordinating teaching fellow duties.

Student Evaluations

At the end of the semester, students will complete an evaluation form giving feedback on the teaching fellow performance. This feedback can be helpful in identify strengths and areas for improvement. When reading evaluations, it is important to look at the “bigger picture” and “global trends.” In larger service courses, there will always be a couple outliers or odd comments. However, if there are clusters of similar comments (positive or negative) then these should be considered seriously. Each year, the Department acknowledges excellent teaching fellow performance in the PAS meeting and letters. There is also a College teaching fellow prize awarded each spring. Student evaluations provide information used in nominating teaching fellows for the College prize.