Introduction to graduate assistantships at UWM

Section 1


Appointments and Benefits

Section 2


International Assistants

Section 3


Teaching Assistants

Section 4


Research Assistants

Section 5


Project Assistants

Section 6


Student Hourly Employment

Section 7


Best Practices for Graduate Assistant

Section 8


Campus Resources

Section 9


Introduction to graduate assistantships at UWM

Section 1

    Introduction: Why and How to Use this Handbook

    Dear Graduate Students,

    This handbook was created to gather in one place all campus-level policies and procedures related to Graduate Assistants at UWM. It’s the most convenient and authoritative record of the rules related to assistantships on campus. It also contains information that new and continuing assistants might find helpful, such as guidance on teaching practices, laboratory conduct and decorum, considerations for international students, and campus resources. It was written collaborative by a group of faculty, staff and—most importantly—Graduate Assistants.

    The Handbook is not designed to be read from start to finish. Graduate Assistants will most likely consult different parts at different times, as questions arise. It is organized in sections, each of which is broken down into subtopics that you should be able to identify quickly by scanning the table of contents. If you aren’t sure what you’re looking for, you can search the entire handbook too. Think of the Graduate Assistant Handbook as something like a travel guide for your journey at UWM. You might use it heavily at the outset to make sure you know where you’re going, but you’ll probably consult it along the way only as needed.

    For Graduate Program Representatives and program staff, the early sections of the Handbook that collect all policies and procedures will probably be most useful. The Graduate School will update these pages continuously as policies and procedures change.  

    If students or programs have suggestions for future inclusions, please convey them to the Graduate School. If the Handbook doesn’t answer your questions, please feel free to contact the Graduate School at gs-assistantships@uwm.edu.

    Sincerely,

    Graduate Assistant Handbook Working Group, 2022

    Alison Donnelly
    Professor of Geography

    Rani El Hajjar
    Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Isha Hammad
    Teaching Assistant, School Psychology

    Ying Hu
    Center for International Education

    Bonita Klein-Tasman
    Professor of Psychology, Associate Dean, Graduate School

    Jacqueline Nguyen
    Associate Professor and Chair of Educational Psychology

    Kristian O’Connor
    Professor of Kinesiology, Associate Vice Provost, Office of Research

    Heather Pace
    Teaching and Research Assistant, Physics

    Jason Puskar (chair)
    Associate Professor of English, Interim Dean, Graduate School

    Joseph Rodriguez
    Professor of History

    Lane Sunwall
    Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

    Kao Zoua Yang
    Teaching and Research Assistant, Materials Science and Engineering

    Definitions

    Graduate Assistant: A general name for any Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, or Project Assistant at UWM. All Graduate Assistants must be enrolled for a minimum number of credits at UWM during the semester when they are employed. They are teachers or researchers in training.

    Graduate Program Representative: The leader of a graduate program, and usually a faculty member who reports directly to another faculty unit leader, such as a department chair. The “Grad Rep” is responsible for day-to-day operations of the graduate program, including the hiring of Graduate Assistants in that program. Questions that a Graduate Assistant’s supervisor cannot answer, or that the assistant has reason to direct to someone other than the supervisor, will often go to the Grad Rep. The Graduate School maintains an updated list of Graduate Representatives.

    Instructor: Any teacher in a course, including the Instructor of Record who leads the course, any academic staff who teach in the course, and any Teaching Assistants who also offer instruction in it. The term “instructor” is a general one referring to any person in an official role teaching a course.

    Instructor of Record: The instructor in a course who has overall responsibility for developing the course syllabus, managing the delivery of course material, ensuring that learning outcomes are met, and issuing final grades. Teaching Assistants sometimes assist a faculty or academic staff member who is the instructor of record, and sometimes serve as the instructor of record themselves.

    Major Professor: The academic advisor of a master’s or doctoral student, in a role that involves the graduate student’s own research and studies. However, the Major Professor directing a doctoral student’s dissertation is also often the supervisor of the same student’s work as a Graduate Assistant. These roles overlap, and are sometimes hard to distinguish, especially for Research Assistants, but are not the same.

    Project Assistant: Sometimes called a “Program Assistant,” a graduate student enrolled in the University of Wisconsin System who is assigned to conduct training, administrative responsibilities or other academic or academic support projects or programs, except regular preparation of instructional materials for courses or manual or clerical assignments, under the supervision of a member of the faculty or academic staff, primarily for the benefit of the university, faculty or academic staff supervisor or a granting agency. Project Assistants are often employed in clerical, support or administrative functions that do not directly involve teaching or research.

    Research Assistant: A graduate student enrolled in the University of Wisconsin System who is assigned to conduct research that is for the benefit of the student’s own learning and research and for the benefit of the university, faculty or academic staff supervisor or granting agency. This title does not include students provided fellowships, scholarships, or traineeships, which are distributed through other titles such as fellow, scholar, or trainee.

    Student Hourly Employee: Student hourly employees are enrolled students who perform part-time and sometimes temporary administrative, clerical, technical, or manual work on behalf of the university.

    Supervisor: All Graduate Assistants are employees, so have an official supervisor responsible for assessing their performance and providing feedback and guidance. Supervisors can occupy a wide range of other positions. For example, the supervisor of a Teaching Assistant leading a discussion section in a large lecture course is likely the faculty instructor of record for the course; however, the supervisor of a Teaching Assistant who is the instructor of record might be the department chair, graduate program representative, or a staff member charged with supervising teaching assistants. Similarly, supervisors can delegate some of their duties to others. A Research Assistant in a lab will usually be supervised by the faculty member who directs the lab and serves as the Principal Investigator on the project. However, that supervisor might delegate some duties to others, such as a staff lab manager who will also have some authority to direct the work of those in the lab.

    Teaching Assistant: A graduate student enrolled in the University of Wisconsin System who is regularly assigned teaching and related responsibilities (other than manual or clerical responsibilities) under the supervision of a member of the faculty. Teaching Assistants do various kinds of instruction in different programs, from leading small breakout discussion sections to running entire sections of their own. In all cases, TAs are instructors in training, and should consider their TA experience as part of their own education.

    Equal Opportunity Policy

    UWM’s Equal Opportunity Policy provides equal employment opportunity to all individuals regardless of race, color, creed, religion, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, pregnancy, political affiliation, arrest or conviction record, identity as a veteran, disabled veteran, Vietnam era veteran, membership in the national guard, state defense force or any other reserve component of the military forces of the United States or this state, use of lawful products off the premises during nonworking hours, genetic information, or any other status protected under applicable federal, state, or local laws or regulations.

    Rights of Assistants

    Graduate Assistants are a distinctive category of university employees, but they enjoy the basic rights accorded to all employees, such as equal opportunity and fair and respectful treatment as defined in the UWM Code of Conduct. However, each category of university employee also has differences, so distinct sets of rights and responsibilities can also apply.

    Equal Opportunity

    Like all students and employees at UWM, Graduate Assistants have the right to a working and learning environment free from all forms of discrimination. Campus policy SAAP 5-1 defines discrimination and the related processes for reporting, investigating, and disciplining discrimination.

    Assistants who believe they have been the target of discrimination by race, color, religion, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or other criteria are encouraged to report to UWM’s Equity/Diversity Services.

    Contractual Rights and Obligations

    Graduate Assistants sign employment contracts for their appointments, often referred to as a “Letter of Offer,” and typically for one semester or one academic year at a time. These Letters of Offer specify the basic requirements of employment for both parties, such as start dates, wage rates, and hours per week.  

    Rights of Access

    No Graduate Assistant’s employment should be contingent upon special fees that do not apply to all similarly situated graduate students (such as the usual segregated, graduation, transcript, or application fees). A supervisor cannot, for example, request a special payment from an admitted student to secure a teaching or research assistantship, which would constitute a form of fraud.

    Rights to Professional Boundaries

    Graduate Assistants are never responsible for personal assistance to supervisors, such as childcare, driving, or shopping that is not part of the professional work of UWM. Nor should assistants be made to absorb costs associated with their responsibilities without reimbursement, such as travel for a supervisor’s research project or purchasing supplies or equipment for a lab.

    Collective Bargaining Rights

    Graduate Assistants do not currently have collective bargaining rights. Formerly, the Milwaukee Graduate Assistants Association (MGAA), affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), did represent assistants at UWM and negotiated Graduate Assistant compensation. However, in 2011 the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, commonly known as Act 10, severely limited collective bargaining for many public employees, including Graduate Assistants.

    Eligibility for Assistantships

    Most graduate students are eligible to apply for assistantships; however, there are additional requirements for students to actually hold an assistantship, such as minimum enrollment requirements. See Appointments and Benefits section of this Handbook for a full account of these requirements.

    International students must also hold a valid I-9 Certification. For requirements for international students, see International Assistants section of this Handbook.

    Graduate student appointments are to be given only to students currently registered for graduate study at UWM or at one of the institutions of the University of Wisconsin System.

    Students enrolled in graduate non-degree programs and students in senior-graduate status are eligible for appointment as Graduate Assistants.

    In exceptional cases, a qualified undergraduate student may be hired as an undergraduate assistant when a qualified graduate student in the home program or a related program is not available.

    Application for Assistantships

    Application processes for assistantships vary by program. Most programs that provide Teaching or Research Assistantships will solicit applications for assistantships along with applications for admission. There is no central campus-wide system for applying for assistantships.

    Some units will need to hire additional Teaching or Project Assistants from the ranks of their current students, sometimes during an academic year. These processes also vary and are determined by individual hiring departments or other units. Students interested in such positions should contact the hiring department or other unit in advance of any announced positions, to learn about the process and make their interest known. These positions often arise and must be filled on short notice, so are not always advertised widely.

    Responsibilities of Assistants

    The basic responsibilities of all assistants will be defined in a Letter of Offer, an employment contract that each assistant signs and returns. The Letter of Offer specifies responsibilities of both the assistant and the hiring unit, including the contractual period, appointment percentage and hours of work required.

    The practical responsibilities of any Teaching, Research or Project Assistant can vary significantly between programs, and even between assistants within the same program. For example, in some programs, a Teaching Assistant might manage online discussion sections; in another, a Teaching Assistant might teach their own section of an in-person class. The Letter of Offer is a general document that does not define every responsibility that an assistant will assume, and assistants are responsible for routine parts of their employment, such as regular required meetings specified by the supervisor.

    Teaching Assistants are further responsible for basic professional conduct, such as timeliness, prompt responses to communication from students and supervisors, and appropriate dress. Many of these matters are covered by the UWM Code of Conduct, which all assistants are expected to uphold. The Code of Conduct consists of two sections. The first defines behavioral expectations and standards. The second addresses the UWM Respectful Campus Standards that prohibit all forms of bullying. The Code of Conduct is codified as policy SAAP 7-3.

    Responsibilities of Hiring Units

    Assistantships at UWM are governed by many overlapping and collaborating units, starting with the program or department hiring the assistant, but also including the Graduate School, the Office of Research, the Center for International Education, Financial Aid, the Bursar, and the Office of Human Relations. This section is designed to help all assistants better understand where to direct questions or concerns. The Graduate School maintains a general inbox for questions about all assistantships. If students or programs are in doubt about where to turn, start by writing to gs-assistantships@uwm.edu.

    Hiring Program or Unit

    The program, department, or administrative unit hiring a Graduate Assistant is responsible for issuing the Letter of Offer to hire an assistant, setting up payroll, and supervising the assistant. The hiring unit will be the main point of contact for all assistants, and most questions or concerns should be directed there first. Depending on the question or issue, an assistant’s contact within the hiring program or unit might be a faculty supervisor or an administrative staff member who manages business matters or graduate studies for the program.

    Graduate School

    The Graduate School maintains and publicizes all university policies and procedures related to Graduate Assistants, and updates and communicates information about stipend rates. It monitors enrollment status for assistants. It also enforces faculty governance policies affecting both students and programs related to matters such as maximum employment levels and the combination of assistantships with fellowships. The Graduate School’s dean is also involved in assisting the Office of Human Relations in managing some steps of the Graduate Assistant Employment Grievance Procedure. (See Eligibility for Assistantships section.)

    Financial Aid

    Assistantships do not generally impact financial aid eligibility, but assistantships are often combined with other scholarships, such as Chancellor’s Awards, which can affect financial aid eligibility. Graduate Assistants who have financial aid, such as student loans, may need to consult UWM’s Financial Aid office. For more information, visit the One-Stop Enrollment and Financial Services page.

    Center for International Education (CIE)

    International students must comply with Federal Immigration Law to work in the United States, including the requirement to have an approved I-9 on file. Programs will generally help international assistants access CIE, but if in doubt international assistants should ensure they meet all requirements by consulting CIE’s International Students and Scholars office.

    Office of Research

    UWM’s Office of Research maintains and publishes stipend tiers for Research Assistants and assists programs in the appointing and oversight of Research Assistants. The Office of Research is often the best place for programs and students to turn with questions about stipend rates for Research Assistants or federal rules that might impact the appointments.

    Bursar’s Office

    The Bursar’s Office manages the routine financial affairs, including payroll, for the university. Graduate Assistants will not usually need to consult the Bursar, except in rare cases such as those where overpayment or underpayment needs to be rectified. For more information, visit the One-Stop Enrollment and Financial Services page.

    Office of Human Resources

    Even though the individual hiring program or unit appoints most Graduate Assistants, their appointment will be processed by UWM’s “HR” office, and likely will be managed by an HR Assistant or HR Business Partner delegated to the hiring program or unit. Graduate Assistants typically do not need to work with HR directly, except in rare cases such the need to rectify errors related to pay or the payment period. Even in those cases, assistants will usually work through staff in their hiring program or unit. However, the Office of Human Resources also oversees the Graduate Assistant Employment Grievance procedure. (See Section 1.5.)

    Consensual Relationships

    Campus policy SAAP 5-1 governs consensual romantic or sexual relationships where a power differential exists. The policy absolutely forbids instructors to commence consensual relationships that are romantic, physically intimate, or sexual in nature with students currently under their instruction. There are additional provisions that require reporting of consensual relationships under other circumstances. All assistants should familiarize themselves with the professional boundaries required for all consensual relationships as defined in UWM’s policy, and the notifications that can be required if consensual relationships occur.

    Employment Grievances

    Graduate Assistants have the right to file employment-related grievances on matters of concern or dissatisfaction related to the conditions of employment. Grievances may be filed either by an individual Graduate Assistant or a group thereof. Graduate Assistants are strongly encouraged to discuss complaints with their immediate supervisor and make every effort to resolve the complaint prior to filing a grievance.

    The Office of Human Resources manages assistants’ employment related grievances, with the assistance of the Dean of the Graduate School. Assistants considering a grievance should review the Graduate Assistant Employment Grievance Procedure carefully before doing so.

    Discrimination and Harassment

    Discrimination and harassment are illegal and will not be tolerated. UWM’s Policy SAAP 5-1 Discriminatory Conduct and Consensual Relationships forbids discrimination and harassment based on any protected status. Co-workers and supervisors may not retaliate against any employee, student or job applicant because they filed a complaint, assisted in an investigation or participated in any proceeding alleging discrimination.

    Equal opportunity principles will guide all employment practices, including, but not limited to, recruiting, interviewing, hiring, transfers, promotions, training, compensation, benefits, layoffs, terminations, retention, certification, and testing. While the Chancellor assumes overall responsibility for the success of the program, university administrators and supervisors are responsible and accountable for implementation. Authority for monitoring the program is delegated to the Office of Equity/Diversity Services.

    Graduate Assistants who believe they have been the target of discrimination by race, color, religion, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or other criteria are encouraged to report to UWM’s Office of Equity/Diversity Services.

    Sexual Misconduct and Title IX

    UWM’s Title IX Office receives reports of sexual misconduct involving the UWM community, coordinates supportive measures, provides information about response options, and conducts or oversees related investigations. All of these duties are guided by a trauma-informed approach that also embraces principles of equity and ensures due process.

    The name of the office refers to Title IX of the U.S. Department of Education’s Educational Amendments of 1972, which states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” On this basis, institutions of education must operate in a non-discriminatory manner in regard to sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

    Assistants who believe they have been the target of sex-based discrimination or sexual harassment are encouraged to report to UWM’s Title IX Office. The Title IX Office also has a wide range of resources available for those who have questions or need further guidance.

    Code of Conduct

    Grievances and complaints about behaviors that are not covered by employment grievances, discrimination grievances, or sexual misconduct grievances generally fall under UWM Policy SAAP 7-3 Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct established a uniform set of standards that applies to professional conduct by all those acting on behalf of the university. It applies both to the conduct of Graduate Assistants and to those acting on behalf of the university who have interactions with assistants, such as assistants’ supervisors.

    The Code of Conduct contains two sections. The first defines behavioral expectations and standards. The second addresses the UWM Respectful Campus Standards that prohibit all forms of bullying. See the separate section on bullying in this handbook.

    Assistants who believe they have been mistreated by someone acting on behalf of the university in violation of the Code of Conduct should bring the matter to their supervisor or department chair. However, students also may start the process with a consultation with the Dean of Students at dos@uwm.edu or by using the Report It! form.

    Graduate Assistants should note that appeals of grades and other matters associated with graduate students’ coursework, exams, or other curricular matters fall under the Graduate School’s Academic Appeals process. There are also separate procedures for appeals of allegations of academic misconduct. See the Graduate Studies Handbook for more information.

    Fraud and Fiscal Misconduct Reporting

    It is important for UWM employees to be familiar with the university’s Fiscal Misconduct policy and to report suspected violations. Fiscal misconduct is defined as “a deliberate act or failure to act that is contrary to established laws, regulations or policies and which results or was intended to result in either loss or other damage to the State or the UW System or improper personal gain.” This includes, but is not limited to:

    • Theft, embezzlement, or misuse of cash, credit cards, equipment, or supplies
    • Misuse of university facilities and equipment, such as telephones, mail systems, vehicles or computers
    • Employee conflicts of interest or ethics violations involving the use of one’s public position for personal gain or advantage, such as contracts for outside services which benefit the employee and/or their immediate family
    • Improper handling or reporting of financial transactions
    • Bribery, kickbacks, and bid rigging
    • Travel expense fraud
    • Forgery, falsification, or unauthorized alteration of financial documents or records
    • Authorizing or receiving compensation for hours not worked or covered by appropriate and available leave

    Graduate Assistants and all other members of the university community can report fraud or fiscal misconduct on the UWM Fraud Reporting Form.

    Bullying

    Bullying—sometimes referred to as Hostile and Intimidating Behavior—is unwanted offensive and malicious behavior which undermines an individual or group through persistently negative verbal or psychological abuse. There is typically an element of vindictiveness and the behavior is calculated to threaten, undermine, patronize, humiliate, intimidate, or demean the recipient.

    The Respectful Campus Standards in the SAAP 7-3 UWM Code of Conduct defines bullying and strictly prohibits bullying in all forms.

    Bullying is not about occasional differences of opinion, or conflicts and problems in workplace relationships, as these may be part of working life. Bullying can adversely affect dignity, health, and productivity and may be grounds for corrective disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. Examples of behaviors that meet the definition of bullying above include, but are not limited to:

    • Cyberbullying: using electronic devices to harass, intimidate or frighten someone
    • Physical bullying: pushing, shoving or tripping a person, threatening assault, or damaging a person’s work product or personal property
    • Verbal bullying: repeated slandering, ridiculing or maligning a person; shouting at others in ways that create a hostile educational or work environment
    • Nonverbal bullying: directing threatening gestures toward a person or invading personal space after being asked to move away
    • Anonymous bullying: withholding or disguising identity while treating a person in a malicious manner

    Graduate Assistants who believe they have been subject to bullying, or who believe a staff member is engaging in bullying behavior to others, should report the behavior to their supervisors, department chairs, the dean or associate dean of their college, or the appropriate Vice Chancellor or Vice Provost. The assistant should select the reporting method that they are most comfortable with and that is most appropriate to the situation.

    If bullying is based on protected class status as defined by UWM’s Equal Opportunity Policy, it should be reported to the Office of Equity/Diversity Services.

    Mandated Reporting

    According to Wisconsin Executive Order #54, all University of Wisconsin System employees, including Graduate Assistants at UWM, must immediately report child abuse or neglect if, in the course of employment, an employee:

    • Observes an incident or threat of child abuse or neglect, or
    • Learns of an incident of threat of child abuse or neglect and has reasonable cause to believe that child abuse or neglect has occurred or will occur

    Graduate Assistants should contact their supervisors if they encounter evidence of potential child abuse or neglect. The supervisor will help guide the assistant reporting the evidence through the necessary steps. Any suspected abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or the manufacture of methamphetamine) or neglect of any person under 18 years of age must be reported to local law enforcement or a county social services agency. The Executive Order #54 toolkit with additional information is a helpful resource.

    Family Educational Records Protection Act (FERPA)

    FERPA is the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. FERPA requires all instructors to be knowledgeable about students’ rights concerning their educational records and certain categories of public information which the university has designated “directory information.” FERPA applies to students when they turn 18 or enroll in a higher education institution, whichever comes first. Therefore, high school students in a dual enrollment program are protected under FERPA guidelines and information shall not be shared with their parents without their explicit consent.

    All instructors and supervisors must complete online FERPA training before the start of classes. The online FERPA tutorial and quiz require approximately 15 to 25 minutes to complete.

    New employees will first need their PantherID and password activated in order to complete the training.

    Council of Graduate Schools April 15 Resolution

    The Council of Graduate Schools April 15 Resolution affirms that “Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15.” This means that if an incoming student receives a written offer of a graduate assistantship, they must not be forced to make a decision about that offer before the date of April 15. The resolution is meant to permit all students to receive and compare competing offers before being forced to make a choice.

    UWM is a signatory to the April 15 Resolution, and all programs with admissions cycles covered by the resolution must observe it. Note that the resolution does not apply to off-cycle admissions that do not require decisions in the most common window during spring. Students should contact the Graduate School if they believe a program is violating the April 15 Resolution.

    Classroom Safety and Emergencies

    The Dean of Students and the UWM Police jointly offer instructor-focused campus safety training. In the past the training has focused on disruptive students, students in crisis, and what to do in the case of a violent incident. Such incidents are extremely rare, but UWM has the goal of providing this training to all faculty and instructional staff. Watch for campus announcements for training sessions in spring semester each year.

    University and Safety and Assurances also provides information about emergency preparedness, including contact information for Emergency Medical, Fire, and life threatening situations. See the table below for details.

    In addition, University Safety and Assurances provides Emergency Preparedness information about a range of scenarios, such as bomb threats, active shooters, and airborne chemical release.

    Emergency Contacts
    Emergency Medical, Fire, Life Threatening SituationsDial 9-911 from any campus phone
    Dial 414-229-9911 from a cell phone
    University Police Department
    (Non-Emergency)
    414-229-4627
    Student Health and Wellness Center414-229-4716
    University Safety & Assurances414-229-6339
    Facility Services
    Building Emergency Services
    414-229-4742 (day)
    414-229-4652 (evening)
    Dean of Students414-229-4632
    S.A.F.E. Line
    Harsh weather can occasionally force the cancellation of classes and public events. The university community can learn about cancellations by calling the S.A.F.E. Line (formerly the ‘Sno Joke line), as well as tuning in to local radio and TV broadcasts
    Please visit the UWM home page.

    Dean of Students Office

    The Dean of Students Office is a resource for both undergraduate and graduate students, including Graduate Assistants. Any member of the UWM community can file reports, complaints, or grievances through the Dean of Students’ Report It! website. Report It! is a comprehensive reporting system developed to help individuals promptly share concerns, incidents of misconduct, inappropriate behaviors, or activities that may pose a risk to the health or safety of our community. Students and assistants also may contact the Dean of Students Office at 229-4632 or dos@uwm.edu.


Appointments and Benefits

Section 2

    Payroll

    Graduate Assistants are paid biweekly through UWM’s payroll system, managed by the Department of Human Resources. New assistants should be aware that the first payment of the fall semester will generally occur in mid-September.

    Pay dates, payroll benefit deduction schedules, and forms for payroll direct deposit, W-4 tax withholding allowances, and other information is available at https://uwm.edu/hr/payroll/

    Assistants can also email the Payroll office with questions at payroll@uwm.edu.

    Contractual Period

    Graduate Assistants are typically required to be in residence at UWM by the start of their contractual period, and during this period must be available to begin performing the requirements of their jobs, including preliminary meetings, trainings, or required orientations.

    International Research Assistants should pay special attention to residency requirements during the contractual period, which can impact their visa status. Some external funding agencies also require residency.

    The Secretary of the University maintains the academic calendar for UWM, including contractual period dates, and publicizes it here: https://uwm.edu/secu/calendars/

    Tax Status

    Graduate Assistant stipends generally count as taxable income, and the program or unit employing the assistant should require assistants to complete a W-4 tax withholding form, which they should receive from their hiring program or unit.

    International Graduate Assistants often find state and federal tax requirements especially difficult to understand. For more information, please consult Human Resources International Staff and Students page Tax Information for Foreign Nationals.

    In addition, the Center for International Education maintains a guide to Tax Resources for international students.

    See the US taxes and the Glacier Tax Compliance System section of this guide for International Students.

    Appointments

    Graduate Assistants’ workloads are measured in percentages of a full-time appointment. For example, if a full-time appointment is 40 hours per week, a 50 percent appointment will require 20 hours per week. Most assistants are appointed at 50 percent, but some are appointed at 33 percent or even 25 percent, depending on the nature and scope of the work required.

    In addition, assistantships can be made for the academic year, or roughly nine months (referred to as C-basis by Human Resources), or for the entire calendar year, or twelve months (referred to as A-basis). Teaching assistantships are usually nine-month appointments, or less. Project assistantships and research assistantships are sometimes twelve-month appointments. However, any assistant also can be appointed for a period as short as a single semester.

    Letters of Offer

    From the appropriate templates provided by UWM’s Office of Human Resources, the hiring unit must prepare a Letter of Offer and send it to each new Graduate Assistant. The appointee must sign and return one copy of the letter to the appointing unit indicating acceptance of the offer. Whenever possible, offer letters of appointment or reappointment should be received by the prospective appointee no later than April 15 for the upcoming academic year.

    Accepted Offers

    From the appropriate templates provided by UWM’s Office of Human Resources, the hiring unit will prepare and send a follow-up letter for accepted offers to each Graduate Assistant. These letters contain information about actions that students need to take to be paid on time, receive benefits for which they are eligible, and comply with UWM, state and federal regulations.

    Appointment of International Students/Non-U.S. Citizens

    Appointments of international students or non-U.S. citizens as Graduate Assistants involve additional requirements and are subject to federal immigration law. For more information, please see the Appointments of international students as Graduate Assistants section.

    Length of Appointment

    Graduate Assistants are appointed for a specific period up to one calendar year. Departments may make separate commitments for financial support beyond one year and can set the maximum total period for which a student will be supported. Changes to graduate appointments are made at the start of either the Fall or Spring semester.

    Stipend Rates

    Stipend rates for Graduate Assistants are set annually by the university. Current stipend rates for Graduate Assistants can be found in the three sections that follow this one, Teaching Assistant Stipend Rates, Research Assistant Stipend Rates and Project Assistant Stipend Rates.

    Rate changes based on the student’s status are effective at the beginning of a semester. The student must meet the qualifications for the new rate by the first contractual date of the semester.

    The stipend rates of Teaching Assistants vary depending on their pay scale classification. The three classifications are:

    Non-doctoral: A student in a master’s program, or a graduate non-degree student, or a doctoral student who does not hold a master’s degree and who has completed fewer than 24 credits of graduate work toward the degree.

    Doctoral: A student in a doctoral program who holds a master’s degree. If the doctoral program does not require a master’s degree, a student must complete at least 24 graduate credits in the program to advance to the doctoral pay classification.

    Dissertator: A graduate student in a PhD program who has achieved dissertator status.

    Teaching Assistants who attain Dissertator status between the contractual date as defined by the published academic year calendar and the Registrar’s add deadline will be paid the dissertator rate starting with the first payroll period after the add deadline.

    Consistent with other promotional guidelines at UWM, stipends for a summer-session appointment are based on the stipend schedule approved for the preceding year, unless the appointment is an annual basis appointment effective July 1.

    Research Assistant rates are determined by the Office of Research and are established at fixed tiers. All Research Assistants in a given program must be paid the same rate, even if paid by different Principal Investigators from different external grants. See Research Assistant Stipend Rates for a list of current Research Assistant stipend tiers by program.

    Graduate Assistants are eligible for periodic cost of living increases. Research Assistant stipends currently increase at an annual rate of 2 percent each summer. Teaching and Project Assistant stipend increases are aligned with UW System pay plans for other employees. Although these increases are not strictly part of the actual pay plan, they go into effect at the same time and at the same rate as pay plan increases.

    Teaching Assistant Stipend Rates

    Teaching Assistant Stipends Fall 2022

    C-BASIS (9 MONTH)FULL-TIME RATE50% APPOINTMENT33% APPOINTMENT
    Non-Doctoral$27,500$13,750$9,075
    Doctoral$30,000$15,000$9,900
    Dissertator$33,200$16,600$10,956

    Teaching Assistant stipends Spring 2023 (effective January 1, 2023)

    C-BASIS (9 MONTH)FULL-TIME RATE50% APPOINTMENT33% APPOINTMENT
    Non-Doctoral$28,050$14,025$9,257
    Doctoral$30,600$15,300$10,098
    Dissertator$33,864$16,932$11,175

    Research Assistant Stipend Rates

    Four base rates have been established for a 9-month, 50 percent appointment ($15,000; $17,000; $19,000; $21,000), which vary by school/college and/or department.

    RA rates for a 50 percent academic year appointment are as follows (Stipends for the most common appointment percentages at each base rate):

    APPT %33%50%100%
    Annual *$12,100$18,333$36,667
    Academic Year$9,900$15,000$30,000
    $15,000 base for 9-month 50 percent appointment
    APPT %33%50%100%
    Annual *$13,713$20,778$41,556
    Academic Year$11,220$17,000$34,000
    $17,000 base for 9-month 50 percent appointment
    APPT %33%50%100%
    Annual *$15,327$23,222$46,444
    Academic Year$12,540$19,000$38,000
    $19,000 base for 9-month 50 percent appointment
    APPT %33%50%100%
    Annual *$16,940$25,667$51,333
    Academic Year$13,860$21,000$42,000
    $21,000 base for 9-month 50 percent appointment
    *Annual appointment stipend is calculated as 11/9ths of Academic Year appointment

    Project Assistant Stipend Rates

    Program Assistant Rates Fall 2022

    C-BASIS (9 MONTH)HOURLY RATE
    Non-Doctoral$15.71
    Doctoral$17.31
    Dissertator$19.23

    Project Assistant rates Spring 2023 (effective January 1, 2023)

    C-BASIS (9 MONTH)HOURLY RATE
    Non-Doctoral$16.02
    Doctoral$17.66
    Dissertator$19.61

    Workload

    Project Assistants are paid for actual hours worked, and they submit a timesheet for each pay period. In terms of payroll, they resemble student hourly employees.

    Teaching and Research Assistants work approximate hours, more like salaried employees such as faculty and academic staff. Due to the nature of their responsibilities, both the employer and employee recognize that some weeks might require more or less work than others. New assistants also might take more time to complete their responsibilities than more experienced ones. As a result, workload for TAs and RAs is not precisely reducibly to a standard number of hours, but rather to a level regarded as reasonable for most assistants.

    Over the course of an academic year semester, the workload of a Teaching Assistant ordinarily requires between 360–380 hours per semester for a 50 percent academic year pay basis appointment, or 240–254 hours per semester for a 33 percent academic year pay basis appointment. A proportional number of hours will be calculated for other durations or appointment percentages.

    Because all assistants are employees in training, those who find that their workload consistently exceeds their level of appointment should consult their supervisors about their responsibilities, time management, prioritizing, and efficiency. These are skills that everyone develops over time. For example, it can take several semesters for a new teaching assistant to learn how to prepare classes expediently, or grade assignments efficiently.

    See additional considerations related to workload in separate sections for Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants.

    Minimum and Maximum Appointment Levels

    There is no minimum appointment for assistants, but few are appointed at less than 25 percent.

    The maximum appointment for graduate students is 75 percent during fall and spring semesters, including any combination of different kinds of assistantships and student hourly employment. Although the Graduate School cannot monitor employment outside of UWM, it recommends that this limit be applied to the sum of all employment, both on-campus and off-campus, undertaken by graduate students during the fall and spring semesters.

    Exceptions to the 75 percent limit include:

    • Students on F-1 visas cannot have appointments exceeding 50 percent during the fall or spring semesters, except for those approved for Curricular Practical Training (contact the Center for International Education for more information.)
    • Undergraduate Assistants are limited to 50 percent appointments during the academic year.

    Graduate Assistants, including those on F-1 visas, may be appointed at 100 percent during summer sessions.

    In all cases, the maximum appointment percentage should reflect a balance between time devoted to academics and to the appointment. In making appointments over 50 percent, the academic success of the student should be the foremost consideration. Factors to consider in offering appointments that exceed 50 percent are the student’s time management skills, grade point average, and progress toward degree.

    Tuition Remission

    Assistants must be appointed at a minimum of 33 percent for a duration of at least one term (Academic “C” basis) or six months (Annual “A” basis) in order to qualify for tuition remission for that term. Assistants appointed below 33 percent will receive a stipend, but will still be required to pay tuition.

    Courses covered by the remission must be relevant to the student’s program of study.

    The appointing unit is responsible for entering a tuition remission code for the appointment into the student financial system prior to the tuition due date for the corresponding term.

    Payment of segregated fees or special course fees are the responsibility of the student. Graduate Assistants can arrange for the payment of these fees through payroll deduction.

    See UW System Regent Policy Document 32-6 and Wis. Stat. 36.27(3)(g).

    Enrollment Requirements

    Graduate Assistants employed at 33 percent or more must enroll for and complete at least 6 graduate credits during each academic year semester (see exceptions below). The graduate program may require a higher credit minimum. Graduate Assistants with total appointments of less than 33 percent must enroll for at least 3 graduate credits during each academic year semester.

    Doctoral students who are studying for the preliminary exam may enroll for one credit. This reduced credit load is applicable for one semester only, and the Graduate Assistant must have an approved application for the preliminary exam on file with the Graduate School in order to qualify. If this application is not on file, the Bursar’s Office will remove the student’s tuition remission based on an insufficient credit load.

    Those who have achieved dissertator status must enroll each semester for 3 graduate credits of research at the current per-credit dissertator rate.

    Courses taken on an audit basis do not count toward the minimum enrollment requirements. Failure to enroll for the required minimum number of graduate credits will result in removal of a tuition remission and the loss of health and other benefits, and may make the student ineligible for another assistantship. Exceptions to the minimum enrollment requirements must be requested via the Graduate Assistant Justification Form before the beginning of the semester.

    Records of Employment

    Personnel files relating to employment as a graduate teaching, project or research assistant are maintained separately from those relating to the assistant’s academic record in the appropriate department, school, or college, and from the assistant’s electronic personnel file housed in the Office of Human Resources.

    Documents relating to academic status are included in the academic file in the office of the appropriate department, school, or college.

    Information unrelated to the Graduate Assistant’s performance (such as employment grievance procedure records) do not become part of the permanent academic record. For more information, see the UW System General Records Schedule for Human Resources and related records, and Wis. Stat. 19.36(10).

    Concurrent Appointments

    Concurrent graduate assistantships (but not other types of appointments) may be used to attain the 33 percent threshold for benefits and tuition remission. Any combination of Teaching, Research and Project Assistant is allowed. Combinations of appointments in excess of 50 percent during the fall and spring semester are not permitted for those on F-1 visas; combinations of appointments for all others are restricted to 75 percent during the fall and spring semesters.

    In all cases, the total appointment percentage should reflect a balance between time devoted to academics and time devoted to the appointments. The academic success of the student should be the foremost determinant. Factors to consider in offering concurrent appointments that exceed 50 percent total time are the student’s time management skills, grade point average, and progress toward degree.

    Fellowships Combined with Assistantships

    While receiving full-academic year Graduate School fellowships (DDF, DGSF) or full- year AOP fellowships, students are eligible to work an additional amount on campus not to exceed:

    • A maximum of 37.5 percent as a Teaching, Research or Project Assistant.
    • Up to 15 hours per week in student hourly or outside employment.

    Requests for Exception to work in excess of these maximums must be submitted to the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the start of employment. Any exceptions to the limits on concurrent employment while receiving a fellowship will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Students’ financial hardship, professional development needs, and satisfactory academic progress will be the main criteria in considering exceptions to this policy. The needs of programs for staffing will not be grounds for approving exceptions to the maximum limits on concurrent employment.

    Summer Appointments

    Graduate Assistants must enroll for a minimum of one graduate credit during one of the summer sessions only if both of the following apply:

    • The student’s initial appointment starts in summer.
    • The student has no prior enrollment in their current graduate program (i.e. is newly admitted to the program).

    Some Graduate Assistants may be required to maintain full-time enrollment in summer in order to comply with Federal Financial Aid rules or federal immigration law. Graduate Assistants required to enroll full-time during summer must enroll for a minimum of four credits.

    Academic Leave of Absence

    The UWM Graduate School’s Academic Leave of Absence (ALA) policy allows graduate students to suspend pursuit of their degree goals temporarily in order to take care of certain life events. The policy may be most useful for dissertators subject to the continuous registration requirement, but it can stop the clock on time limit to degree for all students in doctoral, master’s, and certificate programs. The main goal of the ALA policy is to facilitate retention to graduation, without unduly prolonging time to degree.

    ALA is not a form of paid leave from an assistantship, nor does it guarantee the resumption of an assistantship after the leave is over. Students planning to take ALA should discuss with their programs whether their funded assistantship will continue after their return. Programs are strongly encouraged to pause the clock on any time limits related to long-term commitments for assistantship funding while students are on ALA.

    For more information, please review the full Academic Leave of Absence Accommodation for Graduate Students.

    Benefits and Health Insurance

    Graduate Assistants appointed at 33 percent or more are eligible for some UWM employee benefits, such as the State Group Health Insurance Program, and additional supplemental dental or vision insurance. This health insurance can cover the cost of additional health care beyond what Student Health and Wellness Center provides for all graduate students. Assistants who enroll will have monthly premiums deducted from their paychecks.

    There are different kinds of health benefits coverage with different costs, such as coverage for individuals and coverage for families. Benefits are complex and the provisions change frequently. For the fullest current information, visit the Benefits page of UWM’s Department of Human Resources.

    New Graduate Assistants may want to pay special attention to the New Employee Benefits page.

    Vacation, Paid Leave and Sick Leave

    Graduate Assistants and other employees-in-training are not eligible for paid leave benefits such as vacation, personal holidays, and paid sick leave.

    Assistants who must miss work because they are sick should follow the procedures established by their hiring department or unit, which may include notifications of supervisors or instructors and the arrangement of substitute instructors. Assistants who miss work because they are sick do not typically have their pay reduced. Extended absences due to illness might require a period of unpaid leave and may or may not be covered under the Family Medical Leave Act.

    Family Medical Leave (FMLA and WFMLA)

    The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Wisconsin Family Medical Leave Act (WFMLA) provide the right to take job-protected leave with continued medical benefits under certain circumstances, such as taking time off to care for oneself or a family member. Graduate Assistants are not eligible for paid leave but are eligible for FMLA and WFMLA leave under certain conditions. To be eligible for FMLA, an assistant must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last calendar year, and for WFMLA 1,000 hours in the last calendar year.

    For more information, see the UW System webpage on Family and Medical Leave.

    Military Leave

    Graduate students are eligible for leave from their academic studies for military service, including through Academic Leave of Absence.

    Graduate Assistants are not eligible for the 30-day differential pay benefit for reservists. Assistants are eligible for the 4-year Military Leave Benefit if called to active duty. Because the Graduate Assistant stipends are unlikely to be higher than the military pay, assistants are not likely eligible for differential pay. However, during the 4-year Military Leave assistants can continue to enroll in UWM health benefits by paying the employer contribution during the duration of the leave, regardless of whether they are receiving differential pay. Assistants on Military Leave who do not continue their benefits can re-enroll within 30 days of returning to work.

    See UW System Administrative Policy 1218 and the UW System webpage on Military Leave for more information.

    Jury Duty

    Although Graduate Assistants are not eligible for paid leave for jury duty, they are entitled to an unpaid leave of absence for the period of jury service. No employer may use jury service as a basis for any disciplinary action against an employee, or for dismissal from their position.

    For more information, see UW System Administrative Policy 1216 and Wisconsin Statute 756.255.

    Criminal Background Checks

    UWM Policy SAAP 7-4 Criminal Background Check Policy requires a criminal background check for all employees, including Graduate Assistants. The assistantship appointment is conditional pending the results of the criminal background check and will be withdrawn if the results are unacceptable. All costs associated with the criminal background check will be incurred by the hiring unit.

    For more information, see the Background Check Toolkit at the Office of Human Resources.

    Discipline and Dismissal of Assistants

    Graduate Assistants can be disciplined and dismissed like other categories of UWM employees. However, rules for disciplining and dismissing Graduate Assistants vary considerably by hiring unit. Hiring units are encouraged to grant greater latitude for employees-in-training.


International Assistants

Section 3

    Checklist for New International Assistants

    This checklist provides a summary of the actions new international assistants need to complete during the first two weeks upon arrival. Please consult CIE, the Graduate school, the hiring program or unit, and the Office of Human Resources when questions arise. Some of these actions can be completed virtually or in person.

    ItemsOfficesLocations or website
    1.Complete arrival check-in with CIECIEGarland Hall 138
    www.isssconnect.uwm.edu
    2.Open a US bank accountUW credit union or other local banksStudent Union
    uwcu.org
    3.Apply for an SSN and submit it to HR after receiving itCIE and local social security officeGarland Hall 138
    www.isssconnect.uwm.ed
    4.Complete hiring paperwork with HRHREngelmann Hall 125
    https://uwm.edu/hr/
    5.Complete TA Training (if applicable)CETLhttps://uwm.edu/cetl/
    6.Attend a benefits review sessionHRhttps://uwm.edu/hr/benefits/
    7.Enroll in UW system employee health insuranceHRhttps://uwm.edu/hr/benefits/
    8.Submit proof of health insurance enrollment and assistantship contract in ISSS Connect portalCIEGarland Hall 138
    www.isssconnect.uwm.edu
    9.Attend F1/J1 orientationCIEGarland Hall 138
    www.isssconnect.uwm.ed
    10.Attend Graduate School orientationGraduate Schoolhttps://uwm.edu/graduateschool/
    11.Attend department orientationDepartmentsVarious time and location
    12.Meet with supervisor and other peer GAsDepartmentsVarious time and location

    Appointments of International Students as Graduate Assistants

    Most international students will have F1 visas. Please contact the Center for International Education if you are considering making an assistantship offer to someone on a J-1 visa. Regulations for employment of those on J-1 visas are situation specific, and cannot be covered in a general template.

    The Center for International Education (CIE) is responsible for certifying that U.S. immigration regulations and requirements have been met by international students.

    Copies of all letters of offer to international students/non-U.S. citizens should be sent to the International Student and Scholar Services office in CIE. International students are limited to 20 hours of employment per week (across all positions) and cannot hold an appointment (or concurrent appointments) of more than 50 percent during the fall or spring semester. The requirements for international students apply to non-U.S. citizens currently residing in this country that have not attained official permanent resident status, as well as to international students not yet admitted to the U.S.

    The international student is responsible for obtaining a Social Security number as soon as possible upon arrival in the United States.

    English Proficiency for International Teaching Assistants

    Unless they are exempt for the reasons described below, all non-native English-speaking TAs who will be assigned classroom duties as part of a graduate teaching assistantship are required to take the UWM International Teaching Assistant Assessment (MITAA) before or during orientation. Information on this test is available from the ELA office and from the Center for International Education. A Department representative must be available to participate in the assessment. There is no charge for the MITAA.

    Note: There are two primary exceptions to the MITAA requirement for International Teaching Assistants. The assessment generally is not required if the student has one of the following recent standardized test scores:

    • 23 or better on the Speaking section of the internet-Based TOEFL (iBT)
    • 7.0 or better on the Speaking section of the IELTS
    • 185 or better on the Speaking section of the Cambridge English: Advanced or the Cambridge English: Proficiency.

    If the MITAA reveals that the employee’s language proficiency is inadequate, the employee will be required to take a course in oral English skills for international teaching assistants at their own expense.

    Some UWM Schools or Departments may have higher requirements.

    The assessment also might not be required for students who are graduates of an American university or college. For more information visit the website of the English Language Academy (ELA): or email: el-academy@uwm.edu.

    I-9 Certification for International Assistants

    Special consideration needs to be paid to F-1 and J-1 international students when verifying eligibility.

    Federal Visa regulations specify that F-1 international students are automatically eligible for on-campus employment at the university listed on the I-20. As long as UWM issued the Graduate Assistant’s I-20, the F-1 student does not need any special authorization to be employed 20 hours a week when the university is in session, or up to full-time during the summer break.

    When processing I-9s, departments will need to verify that the student’s I-20 is issued by UWM. If it is not, an I-20 alone does not provide sufficient proof of eligibility.

    J-1 international students may be eligible for on-campus employment, but only with a letter of permission from the J-1 program sponsor listed on the DS-2019 form. J-1 student employees should obtain a letter from International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) signed by a Responsible Officer confirming student status and eligibility to be employed. Questions should be directed to International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office at isss@uwm.edu, by phone at 414-229-4846, or in person in Garland Hall, Room 138.

    Planning for Summer

    Most Graduate Assistant contracts are for nine months, which means assistants usually do not have income from assistantship during summer vacations. If international Graduate Assistants plan to stay in the US during summer vacations, they need to plan in advance how to cover the living expenses in summer.

    F1 students may work up to full time during summer on campus and may be eligible for off-campus employment if they have authorizations. Please review the website of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) for more information regarding employment for F1 students. Students can schedule an appointment with an immigration coordinator if they have questions regarding employment authorizations.

    Questions should be directed ISSS at isss@uwm.edu, by phone at 414-229-4846, or in person in Garland Hall, Room 138.

    Navigating the US Health System

    The United States does not have a uniform health system and has no universal healthcare coverage. Navigating the US health system can be challenging. All students are encouraged to first seek care from Student Health and Wellness Center on campus.

    All international Graduate Assistants should review the Health Insurance and Wellness module on J1/F1 Student Orientation in Canvas to know more information about health insurance and health care options.

    UWM’s Office of Human Resources also maintains a page dedicated to Health Insurance for Foreign Nationals on its website.

    US Taxes and the Glacier Tax Compliance System

    GLACIER is an online tax compliance system designed to allow institutions to efficiently and effectively collect information, make tax residency and income tax treaty determinations, manage paperwork, maintain data, and file reporting statements with the IRS. The Office of Human Resources has more information on its Glacier website.

    All foreign national employees being paid or receiving funds through UWM payroll must create and maintain a GLACIER individual record for payroll and taxation purposes. This includes Resident Aliens and Nonresident Aliens.

    All international students who were in the United States during the tax year are required to file federal and state tax returns (even if they did not earn any income in that year). CIE maintains a Tax Resources page on the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) website.

    To help guide international employees through the Federal tax filing process, UWM offers web-based tax software called GLACIER Tax Prep designed exclusively for foreign nationals who are non-residents for tax purposes. It is a part of the GLACIER program and opens in late-February each year.

    If Graduate Assistants use a professional accountant or an online filing system, they should choose a service that has experience with international student tax filing. They also must clearly and accurately provide their filing status for tax purposes, such as non-resident alien, resident alien, or U.S. citizen.


Teaching Assistants

Section 4

    What is a Teaching Assistant?

    A Teaching Assistant is a graduate student enrolled in the University of Wisconsin System who is regularly assigned teaching and related responsibilities (other than manual or clerical responsibilities) under the supervision of a member of the faculty. Teaching Assistants do various kinds of instruction in different programs, from leading small breakout discussion sections to running entire sections of their own. In all cases, Teaching Assistants are instructors in training, and should consider their Teaching Assistant experience as part of their own education.

    Teaching Assistants play a pivotal role at UWM as many courses depend on their support to help deliver our mission to impart a high level of knowledge to all students. Teaching assistantships provide financial support towards graduate school and valuable experience, and offer opportunities to be part of the departmental community. Further, teaching assistantships allow students to develop skills in public speaking, content organization and presentation, and time management. In short, a teaching assistantship is valuable part of a graduate student’s experience.

    However, Teaching Assistants also bear considerable responsibilities and must learn to manage significant demands on their time. Preparing for class, advising students, and grading all can be time consuming. Therefore, finding the right balance between teaching, attending classes, and conducting research requires considerable planning, but becomes easier with experience. The information and advice presented in this section should help assistants to be more effective and satisfied in their role.

    Roles and Responsibilities of Teaching Assistants

    The main role of a teaching assistant is to provide support to the course instructor to ensure the effective delivery of the required materials and to foster a positive learning environment. Given the vast array of possible courses led by Teaching Assistants at UWM, their individual roles will vary considerably. Each assistantship is tailored to the needs of each specific course and determined by the instructor.

    The following is a list of some typical responsibilities that teaching assistants may be expected to carry out. It is designed to help instructors devise their own guidelines to suit the needs of their specific course. Regular communication and feedback between instructors and Teaching Assistants is of paramount importance to ensure expectations are met. The Teaching Assistant should meet with the instructor frequently throughout the semester to discuss class materials and duties.

    The responsibilities of Teaching Assistants are highly variable, but can include:

    • Assisting faculty with classroom instruction, records, and assignments
    • Leading discussion sections
    • Meeting with students during office hours
    • Conferencing with students individually or in small groups
    • Delivering lectures or guest lectures
    • Leading group projects or discussions
    • Grading assignments or papers
    • Managing course communications in Canvas
    • Preparing laboratory materials
    • Recording and calculating grades
    • Providing feedback on assignments
    • Enforcing laboratory rules and procedures
    • Proctoring examinations
    • Taking attendance or monitoring participation
    • Obtaining and distributing course materials
    • Ordering course textbooks and monitoring supply

    Teaching Assistants are also responsible for being timely and reliable and showing up to class at the correct time and without unexcused absences. Programs and even individual instructors usually have procedures for emergency absences, which Teaching Assistants should understand at the beginning of the semester.

    Teaching Assistants are also responsible for maintaining professional interactions with their students and supervisors.

    Because Teaching Assistants are teachers in training, they are expected to learn even as they are teaching. The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning offers many valuable workshops and seminars for instructors at all levels, including Teaching Assistants. Many assistants find it helpful to seek advice from more experienced assistants, observe other assistants, read literature on pedagogy in their field, and keep a journal or other record of what worked in class, and what might be improved.

    Because expectations can vary by program, course, and faculty instructor, faculty instructors are advised to hold an introductory meeting where they convey clear instructions about their Teaching Assistants’ responsibilities. For example, if an assistant is expected to record attendance during every class this must be clearly communicated in advance. Even experienced Teaching Assistants might not have encountered a new instructor’s expectations before. Similarly, if an assistant expects training in how to conduct a discussion section, they should clearly request that from the supervisor. Regular and open dialogue helps both assistants and supervisors understand each other’s expectations.

    Roles and Responsibilities of Supervisors

    Teaching Assistants are teachers in training, and as such will be supervised. Supervisors both oversee the work of the assistant and help teach the assistant how to be more effective in the classroom. In many cases the supervisor is the faculty instructor of a large course, for whom the assistant teaches a discussion section. In other cases the assistant is the sole instructor of a smaller course, so the supervisor may be a department leader, such as the graduate program representative.

    Supervisors should actively reach out to Teaching Assistants to support their growth as teachers, and they should be available and responsive when assistants reach out to them.

    Supervisors should help Teaching Assistants learn to operate online platforms such as Canvas and Microsoft Teams and direct them to campus resources for additional help when needed.

    Supervisors should meet regularly with their Teaching Assistants to assess how the students are doing in the class and to make sure that all the assistants are in agreement on presenting materials. Weekly meetings are recommended.

    Supervisors also should provide Teaching Assistants with a letter of recommendation at the end of the semester that assesses their teaching, and which the assistant can use for future reference. Assistants can request such letters as well.

    In courses in which a Teaching Assistant leads a discussion section, the instructor of record for the larger course must clearly convey all course requirements and Teaching Assistant responsibilities. A written outline of the specific roles and responsibilities of the Teaching Assistant for each class is recommended.

    Hiring units are strongly encouraged to provide new Teaching Assistants with a formal orientation at the department or equivalent level before the semester starts. The orientation should address department or other equivalent policies and procedures, convey and clarify workplace expectations, provide access to resources, and introduce new assistants to staff, other instructors, and each other.

    Program or department level supervisors should strive to balance the workload of all Teaching Assistants as equitably as possible.

    Grievance Procedures

    All Graduate Assistants, including Teaching Assistants, may submit an employment-related grievance for a matter of concern or dissatisfaction relating to the conditions of employment. Grievances should be filed according to the steps defined in the Graduate Assistant Employment Grievance Process.

    Grievances may be filed either by an individual Graduate Assistant or by a group of assistants. Assistants are strongly encouraged to discuss complaints with their immediate supervisor and make every effort to resolve the complaint prior to filing a grievance. Complaints not resolved by discussion between the employee and their supervisor, or director or department chair may be submitted as grievances.

    Boundaries

    The Consensual Relationships section of this Handbook addresses the University of Wisconsin System policies concerning consensual relations between people who have unequal degrees of power or influence due to their professional or student standing. The policy absolutely forbids instructors to commence consensual relationships that are romantic, physically intimate, or sexual in nature with students currently under their instruction. There are additional provisions that require reporting of consensual relationships under other circumstances. Even when consensual relations are not forbidden, instructors are advised to consider carefully whether such relationships are in the best interests of all involved.

    For more information, see Regent Policy Document 14-8 and UWM’s Discriminatory Conduct and Consensual Relationships Policy, SAAP 5-1.

    Teaching Assistants may find more complexities related to boundaries than other kinds of assistants, given their close contact with so many undergraduate students. For example, an instructor who forms a close friendship with a student, and who is frequently seen on campus with that student in social situations, might be suspected of favoritism. Teaching Assistants are in a position to evaluate students, and any relationship that makes it difficult to evaluate students equally and fairly should be avoided.

    Similarly, an assistant who engages extensively with the personal lives of students through social media might distract students from learning, and the engagement might be misinterpreted by observers. Teaching Assistants are advised to consider carefully where they draw the boundaries of their professional relationships with students, and when in doubt to err on the side of purely professional relations. When assistants blur the lines between personal and professional relations with students, they also put themselves in a vulnerable position.

    Students often disclose very personal information to their teachers, and sometimes seek personal support or advice that the instructor might not feel comfortable giving. In these situations, instructors can play a valuable role for students in need, but they must be careful not to exceed their expertise. If a student approaches a Teaching Assistant to report serious emotional distress or other personal crises, it is entirely appropriate for the assistant to express empathy and concern and might be appropriate to make accommodations in the course, but they should not try to play the role of a health care professional themselves. Instead, they should assist them in identifying and accessing help resources. See UWM’s Mental Health Resources page on how to help students and loved ones experiencing emotional distress. Options available to the student include making an appointment for intake at University Counseling Services or participating in the Let’s Talk drop-in consultation sessions. Contact with the Accessibility Resource Center is recommended to seek course accommodations. If matters appear more urgent, together the student and the Teaching Assistant could call University Counseling Services and ask for the Crisis and Consultation office.

    Teaching Assistants who have serious concerns about the wellbeing of a student are encouraged to call the Office of the Dean of Students, where staff can provide guidance about how to proceed. This contact with the Dean of Students Office is allowed from a privacy policy standpoint and is not considered to be in violation of FERPA privacy rules.

    Some cases can be extremely difficult, especially when personal disclosures align with course content. For example, a student in a course in LGBTQ+ studies might approach the instructor seeking to discuss questions about their own sexuality. Is such a discussion inside or outside the boundaries of the course? There are no easy answers, and assistants are advised to consult their supervisor when they feel uncertain, and to reflect on their own comfort with the boundaries.

    Evaluating Teaching Assistants

    Teaching Assistants will generally be evaluated by their students each semester, just as faculty and academic staff are evaluated. These processes differ by department, but frequently take the form of a paper or online survey distributed to students near the end of the semester.

    There are other opportunities for evaluation as well, such as informal midterm evaluations created by the program, supervisor, or even by the Teaching Assistant. Midterm teaching evaluations are designed to solicit feedback during the course, so that improvements can be made before the course is over. Midterm evaluations are especially encouraged for new teachers who may not have the experience to perceive what might need improvement. Soliciting midterm evaluation shows students that the Teaching Assistant values student input, which can be motivating to students. It also can help teachers detect miscommunication or misunderstanding that might impact the course much later.

    Ideally, evaluation will be combined with supervision and additional training in a cycle of continuous improvement. Supervisors can help assistants digest feedback, identify what is already working well and what might be improved, and provide additional training or guidance. The effectiveness of the training strategies can then be assessed at the end of term evaluation, where further training needs may be identified. See Figure 1 below for a diagram of a cycle of evaluation, training, and improvement.

    Teaching Assistant evaluation leading to improved performance and greater effectiveness.
    Figure 1 Teaching Assistant evaluation leading to improved performance and greater effectiveness.

    Other forms of teaching evaluation are also valuable. Supervisors or even peers can observe an assistant’s teaching and provide immediate feedback from the perspective of another teacher. UWM’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning also provides consultants who observe classroom teaching. Observations should be followed by meetings to talk over the class observed. Some programs might provide forms for assistants and observers to fill out to help facilitate feedback and guide a later conversation.

    Teaching Assistants also should be intentional about observing their own performance. Making brief notes after class about what worked well and what might work better can help them improve steadily and can make periodic meetings with supervisors more productive.

    Teaching Assistant Workload

    According to the Graduate School, the workload of a Teaching Assistant ordinarily requires between 360-380 hours per semester, but a 50 percent appointment should not normally exceed 20 hours per week. For a 33 percent appointment, the work should not normally exceed 240-254 hours per semester, or a little more than 13 hours per week. Still, Teaching Assistants are not paid hourly and their workload will be heavier some weeks than others, so not every week will require precisely 20 hours, and some may require considerably more. Time investments vary considerably depending on the kinds of activity required, familiarity with the material taught, and the teacher’s experience. New Teaching Assistants frequently spend much more time preparing than experienced assistants.

    New Teaching Assistants are strongly advised to observe how much time they spend on teaching activities. Keeping a time log can help assistants assess where extra effort might be needed, and where too much effort might have been exerted. Assistants might review their time log with a supervisor to get input on whether they are spending a reasonable amount of time on preparation, grading, meetings, reading, or online discussion feedback. There are a number of time logging apps available for free for desktop computers and cell phones that can help automate this process. Tracking the amount of time spent on different activities can be carried out at the beginning of the semester and once a suitable pattern arises it may be dropped. For more information, see Time Management section.

    For example, many new Teaching Assistants overprepare for discussion sections, which not only burdens them with extra hours of preparation but also can make the discussion too scripted. Assistants must prepare thoroughly, but some are relieved to learn that a little less preparation can make the discussion flow more naturally, while also giving students more control over its direction.

    Teaching Assistant Training and Orientation

    The type of training provided to teaching assistants is determined by each program, department, or college. Many of these trainings are mandatory and new assistants must attend them to retain their employment. If a Teaching Assistant has not been contacted about required training or orientations, they should reach out to their advisor or the administrator of their academic unit for additional information.

    In addition to those trainings offered by academic units, UWM’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) hosts the New Teaching Assistant Orientation each year at the start of the fall contractual period, usually on the fourth Monday of August. This orientation includes a live virtual conference where new teaching assistants receive guidance concerning their duties and responsibilities, as well as information about available resources and services.

    CETL New TA Orientation Topics Include:

    • Overview of TA responsibilities
    • Pedagogy- and technology-focused concurrent sessions (topics vary by year)
    • Inclusive pedagogy
    • How to support UWM’s international students
    • Overview of services and resources

    Teaching Assistant should contact their academic advisor or department administrator to determine whether they should attend the CETL New TA Orientation.

    Additional Training

    In addition to the New TA Orientation, CETL provides programming and support related to teaching and learning for all instructors and graduate students. They offer extensive training in areas such as online teaching, classroom technology, multicultural inclusion and equity, course design, instructor mentoring, and much more. In addition, CETL consultants are available for one-on-one consultations in course design, and they maintain a large library of online resources.

    Course Enrollment and Registration

    Teaching Assistants can access up-to-date class rosters through PAWS and Canvas. Both resources will provide contact information, but Canvas also has built-in communications functions, such as group emails from the course account.

    Attendance should be taken at the beginning of the semester. If the student is not on the class roster they likely have not registered or paid for the class and will not receive a grade. Teaching Assistants should inform students not listed on the roster that they might not be properly registered, and invite them to consult UWM’s Office of the Registrar.

    Adding to Closed Classes. Teaching Assistants may have the authority to add students to classes that are already at full capacity, especially when they are the sole instructor. This can lead to some complications. For example, when a class reaches its maximum capacity, students may approach the instructor in person or by email requesting to be added using a Registration Change Form. However, other students may have attempted to register online much earlier, so will be on a ranked waiting list of students waiting to join the class in PAWS. Many programs simply follow the ranking of the PAWS waiting list, but there can be justifications for allowing a student into a class even if they are further down on the waiting list, or not on it at all. For example, a program might give preference to seniors who need the class to graduate, regardless of their position on the waiting list. Whatever the criteria, instructors and programs should ensure that they are fair and consistently applied. Teaching Assistants should consult their supervisor about possible program-level criteria for managing over-enrollment.

    Adding After Enrollment Deadline. There are times when students need to register late for a semester, and generally they are permitted to do so until the Add deadline, which is usually about two weeks after the start of the semester. Programs and instructors sometimes have policies for addressing this, and a syllabus might address late adds. For example, in some programs classes will automatically close before the add deadline even if they are under-enrolled, and instructors will not be required to allow additional students into the course. In other programs, students are accustomed to adding courses with open seats up to the add deadline, and instructors are required to respect that right. Teaching Assistants should consult their supervisor when questions about adding students after the start of the semester arise.

    Auditing. Occasionally students may ask to audit a class, which generally requires instructor permission. Auditors pay much less tuition or no tuition, and do not typically complete assignments for grades. In general, limited seats in a class should be reserved for students taking the course for credit, and auditors permitted only if the course is below capacity. As a result, auditors are sometimes asked to wait until the Add deadline to ensure that there will be space before the instructor grants approval.

    Students with Accommodations

    The Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) is located on campus for students with disabilities. Any UWM student with a disability that restricts one or more of life’s major activities may benefit from ARC services. They work with students that have mobility, sensory, communications, mental, or learning differences, as well as those with basic health impairments. Students are eligible for services through ARC if they are enrolled in the university and can provide documentation of their disability.

    Students may request and manage disability-related accommodations through ARConnect. Accommodations are designed to provide the student with an equal opportunity to participate in all educational activities. If Teaching Assistants have questions about how best to accommodate a student, they should contact their supervisor or program coordinator. Teaching Assistants can also contact ARC to help a student secure services.

    Teaching Assistants are permitted to provide accommodations for disabilities that ARC has not approved but should treat students equally. Instructors should not be asking for or reviewing students’ medical records to make informal accommodations. If that seems necessary, instructors should refer students to the ARC.

    Academic Misconduct

    Teaching Assistants are responsible for observing UWM guidelines on reporting and assessing academic misconduct, including cheating and plagiarism. Cases of academic misconduct are governed by Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter UWS 14, which specifies procedures for investigating possible cases of misconduct. If a Teaching Assistant suspects a student has committed academic misconduct, they should first consult the instructor of record in the course for guidance. If the Teaching Assistant is the instructor of record, they should consult their supervisor, such as the Graduate Program Representative in for the program or the department chair.

    For suspected cases of academic misconduct by undergraduates, teaching assistants or their supervisors should contact the Dean of Students at dos@uwm.edu, and the Investigating Officer for the student’s school or college. For more information, see the Dean of Students’ website on Instructor Academic Misconduct Process.

    Textbooks and Instructional Materials

    Each term, instructors are responsible for selecting course materials and submitting their course adoptions to UWM eCampus, UWM’s online bookstore. The deadlines coincide with early registration, so students can make informed choices about their courses. In a course with multiple sections, the course supervisor will inform Teaching Assistants of their responsibilities for selecting materials and submitting course adoptions.

    Additional resources for course materials include:

    UWM course reserves: Instructors may place course materials (including textbooks and media) on reserve for students in the course to check out for a limited duration; this is a great resource for students who may be unable to purchase course materials

    Attire

    The more comfortable one feels, the better one can focus on teaching. Teaching Assistants should wear clothing that helps them feel comfortable, is appropriate for their field or type of course being taught and follows guidelines they expect students to follow. (For example, some lab courses may have a rule regarding no open-toed sandals.) There is no requirement for formal attire for teaching at UWM, but if wearing a suit or other formal clothing helps one feel confident, then Teaching Assistants should feel free to do so. Teaching Assistants should not wear attire that is more casual than what the average student is wearing, such as pajamas, or clothing with political statements or slogans.

    Final Exams

    Teaching Assistants should be aware of important university policies regarding final exams. UWM Policy SAAP 1-9 outlines the scheduling, change in scheduling, and exemption for final examinations. With rare exceptions, the final examination shall be given during the regular examination period. The time of a final examination for an individual or a class may be changed only with the prior approval of the dean. An approved change can only be a postponement to a later date and must be clearly communicated to students early in the term. In the event that the final examination for a particular class must be rescheduled, it should, if possible, be conducted during the optional examination time slot built into the final examination schedule.

    Examinations cannot be given earlier than their normally scheduled time.

    For additional requirements related to final examinations, see the Final Exam Schedule.

    Grading

    Campus-wide grade and grading policy is contained in SAAP 1-11 Grading and Grade Records for All Schools and Colleges. All instructors should familiarize themselves with the requirements specified there.

    In coordination with their designated instructor or supervisor, Teaching Assistants often evaluate students’ performance in courses and decide on the appropriate grade. The basis for grading and the expectations on all written assignments should be explained clearly in the course syllabus distributed at the beginning of the semester. This ensures that students are informed about the grading practice of the instructor, and also protects the instructor from charges of arbitrariness in evaluation. In courses with multiple sections, the instructor of record should ensure that grading practices and policies are consistent across sections.

    Grading can be one of the more stressful parts of teaching for new Teaching Assistants. Some Teaching Assistants will be working exclusively as graders, evaluating many of the assignments in a large lecture course. Others will grade all assignments in their own course. Most will need to provide evaluative feedback in one form or another, such as comments to online discussion posts.

    Assistants should be aware that there can be significant variation between instructors, classes, and disciplines in approaches to grading, grading scales, and grading standards. For example, the university does not have a standard grading scale that determines percentage cutoffs for letter grades, so in one course a 93 and above may count as an A, and in another a 94 and above. Some programs insist on more consistency of grading standards across instructors and courses than others. Because grading standards vary, all instructors should provide students with as much detail about grading practices as possible.

    Especially in qualitative fields, grading rubrics are an important tool for ensuring fairness and consistency. Supervisors of Teaching Assistants assigned to multiple sections of the same course should consider asking instructors to provide grading rubrics if they are not already available. For more information, see Enhancing Student Learning and Success Through Rubrics from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Rubrics can also help assistants grade more quickly, fairly, and consistently.

    All instructors are encouraged to use the Gradebook function in Canvas, which allows students to assess their own progress at all times. Prompt grading of assignments and entry of grades in Canvas gives students the feedback they need to adjust their investment of time and effort as the course progresses.

    Extra credit. The principle of equal treatment of all students should be the fundamental guide in responding to requests for special consideration. No student should be given an opportunity to improve a grade that is not made available to all members of the class. This policy is not intended to exclude reasonable accommodation of verified student disability, or the completion of work missed as the result of religious observance, verified illness, or justified absence due to circumstances beyond the student’s control.

    Retaining records. For a period of one year following the term in which the course is given, Teaching Assistants should maintain records that are sufficient to:

    • determine if an error was made in assigning or recording a grade,
    • show that grading conforms to your announced grading policy,
    • determine the grade for a student removing an incomplete, and
    • report the performance of students who attended for only part of the term.

    Teaching Assistants should preserve examinations and written material not returned to students for one year. In the event that an assistant will not be available during the one-year period, they should make arrangements with their supervisor, program coordinator or department chair to preserve documents for the appropriate period.

    Posting grades. Students have right to confidentiality to their academic records, including scores and grades on assignments and exams. Under no circumstances should individual student grades be shared with other students, nor should grades be emailed to students. Assistants should review the FERPA requirements in this Handbook in the Family Educational Records Protection Act section. Posting a list of students’ names and grades represents a violation of the provision regarding release of a student’s education record without written authorization and should not be allowed. Be aware that social security numbers, UWM student ID numbers, or any parts of them may not be used to identify grades whether they are final, exam or assignment grades. However, grades may be posted as long as the procedure used ensures student anonymity. Posting grades with a unique identifier known only to the student and instructor or instructors is acceptable. In such cases, instructors should not order the list alphabetically.

    Submitting grades. Official grades and grade changes are submitted by instructors through PAWS. If Teaching Assistants are recording grades in any other manner, they must be re-entered and uploaded into PAWS in order to post to a student’s transcript. Step-by-step instructions of this process are available online at uwm.edu/registrar/academic-unit-services/instructor-grading/

    Grading Scales. There is no official grading scale that defines percentage cutoffs for letter grades, such as a 93 as a uniform campus minimum grade for an A. These scales vary course by course, but SAAP 1-11 requires that “the basis for grading and the expectations on all written assignments shall be explained clearly in the course syllabus distributed at the beginning of the semester.”

    However, UWM converts letter grades into a Grade Point Average using a standard 4.000 scale. For convenience in computing averages, each letter grade carries a specified number of points per credit. The uniform conversion of letter grades to grade points is:

    A4.000Excellent
    A-3.670
    B+3.330
    B3.000Good
    B-2.670
    C+2.330
    C2.000Fair
    C-1.670
    D+1.330
    D1.000Poor
    D-0.670
    F0.000Fail

    F grades. When reporting a grade of ‘F,’ you will also report a number corresponding to the student’s “week of last participation” in the course, such as ‘F0,’ ‘F1,’ and so on, with 1 equating to the first week of the course, 2 to the second, etc. This is the last week of the term for which there is documented evidence of the student’s participation. “Documented evidence of participation” may include any work or materials received from the student, such as exams, quizzes, projects, homework, etc. Documented evidence of participation might also take the form of an attendance roster (if attendance is taken in class), an annotation by the instructor/supervisor that the student was observed attending class or otherwise participating in the course on a certain date, etc. Evidence may not take the form of simply logging into an online class without active participation. (Per interpretation of the Program Integrity Regulations published by the U.S. Department of Education on October 29, 2010.)

    For further details, please see the Credit Hour policy which documents the (federally mandated) amount of work to be completed by a student per credit hour at: uwm.edu/secu/wp-content/uploads/sites/122/2014/07/2838_Credit_Hour_Policy.pdf

    Incompletes. The UWM policy on incomplete grades is contained in policy document SAAP 1-13 Incomplete Grades. A summary of the undergraduate incomplete policy can also be found in the UWM Catalog. An incomplete may be given to a student who has carried a subject successfully until near the end of the semester but, because of illness or other unusual and substantiated cause beyond that student’s control, has been unable to take or complete the final examination or to complete some limited amount of course work. A course marked incomplete must be finished during the next succeeding semester of enrollment, excluding summer sessions and UWinterim. If the student does not remove the incomplete during this period, the report of “I” will lapse to “F”.

    Grade appeals. Each program has established undergraduate and graduate procedures for handling matters such as complaints pertaining to grades and other decisions made by instructional staff. Students should meet with the instructor first regarding any grading concerns. Students who continue to have concerns should be directed to the department chair for next steps.

    GER courses. The Higher Learning Commission and the UWM Academic Program and Curriculum Committee (APCC) requires that General Education Courses are assessed on an ongoing basis to ensure they are meeting requirements. Teaching Assistants assigned to GER courses may be responsible for ensuring the course meets those requirements and for reporting assessment data. The GER Guide for Instructors document provides detailed instructions.

    “Navigate” Advising Tool

    UWM uses advising software called Navigate to support student success. Although most instructors will not use Navigate, there are numerous Navigate processes that may require instructor participation. Two that are required by campus are:

    • Enrollment census (first two weeks of semester): All instructors will be asked to identify students who have not yet engaged in class so that campus can help provide outreach and support. This is also a good time for instructors to reach out to those students personally.
    • Progress reports: Instructors will receive a message from the Provost requesting submission of a mid-term progress report for all students. The reports are seen by students and advisors; there are also options for positive reports.
    • Ongoing reports: Instructors are welcome to log into Navigate at any time to submit information or concerns that may be relevant to the student’s performance in class or other university-related issues. With the consent of the student, an instructor may share information about challenges the student is facing personally or academically so that everyone involved in supporting the student’s success can coordinate their efforts.

    Uniform Syllabus Requirements

    UWM has a Uniform Syllabus Policy to which all instructors must adhere. This policy specifies both required and recommended information for course syllabi and includes requirements on department archiving of syllabi.

    Most departments can provide teaching assistants with sample syllabi that can be adapted for new courses.

    Full adherence to the Uniform Syllabus Policy ensures that students are fully informed about the requirements of the course and protects them arbitrariness and ambiguity about requirements and deadlines.

    Promoting Class Discussion

    The function of the discussion section is to provide an opportunity for students to become actively involved in learning and become familiar with a specific topic related to the course. Students are subdivided into small groups and tutored in a more relaxed atmosphere than a lecture. They are encouraged to participate in lively discussion, to ask questions and stimulate conversation. The discussion section generally should not be a summary or a repeat of the lecture material but instead should focus on a specific topic of particular relevance or interest.

    The role of the Teaching Assistant is to usually to guide the discussion by providing some relevant material and putting forward leading questions which provoke critical thinking and participation. Assistants will typically receive more guidance from the course instructor. This might involve standard discussion topics that all assistants are expected to introduce, but it might also permit significant flexibility for each assistant to focus on topics of their own interest. The course instructor and supervisor will determine how discussion sections should be managed.

    UWM’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning has many resources to help new and experienced Teaching Assistants improve all aspects of their teaching. Consult their website for more details. Below are a few general pointers broadly applicable across most fields.

    Preparing for discussion class

    Teaching Assistants should be familiar with the lecture material and its salient points prior to the discussion section. This will involve attending lectures and discussing the concepts to be explored with the instructor and other assistants.

    Pedagogical approaches differ. In some fields, discussion sections may use few materials other than a course text that the group considers together. In others, the Teaching Assistant may be asked to prepare handouts, problems, or Power Point presentations. In many cases, the kind of preparation required will vary week to week, and supervisors can help Teaching Assistants think through possible approaches.

    Designing discussion questions

    A good discussion depends on asking the right kinds of questions. Good discussion questions provoke critical thinking and require interpretation and analysis. The subject of the question should require students to reflect on the material being conveyed in the broader class. Ideally the question should have a range of answers, and so elicit different viewpoints. At the same time, although questions that elicit purely personal responses will generate a range of answers, they may not prove as rigorous as the assistant would like.

    Below are some examples of useful phrases and questions to avoid when designing discussion questions. Questions to avoid tend to encourage “yes” or “no” answers, are ambiguous or vague, seek obvious factual responses, or steer the conversation in a particular direction.

    Useful phrasesQuestions to avoid
    Compare and/or contrastAnything that results in a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Is the Earth overpopulated? This does not promote much discussion. How might we determine whether or not the Earth is overpopulated?
    Why?Avoid vague questions. Is poverty a problem? There is not enough information in this question to give a meaningful answer. What causes poverty to be a problem in the US today?
    What is the meaning of…Avoid leading questions, encourage students to express their own view. What makes ‘Gone with the Wind’ such an amazing movie?
    How might you explain…
    What is meant by…
    What are the causes of…
    What might the result be…
    Does anyone disagree?
    Table 1 Examples of useful phrases and questions to avoid when designing discussion questions. Adapted from Stanford University – Designing Effective Discussion Questions

    Presenting material in class

    Sometimes there are small presentations in discussion sections, in which the Teaching Assistant reviews especially difficult material or introduces additional material. This will usually be coordinated by the course instructor. When presenting material, Teaching Assistants should proceed slowly through the new information to give the students time to absorb and reflect on the topic. They also should build in as many opportunities for dialogue and exchange as possible, rather than lecturing at length.

    Engaging students and facilitating learning

    It can be difficult to get students to ask or answer questions in discussion. Students sometimes want to be told the facts about a topic and do not want to have to explore less settled matters out loud. A friendly relaxed atmosphere should eventually make them feel more at ease. Try to get students active from the beginning of the semester, otherwise it will be more difficult to change their pattern. Open ended questions that do not have an obvious right answer are more likely to make students feel safe and confident enough to respond.

    Here are some tips to encourage students to participate:

    • Learn their names. Establishing this small marker of a personal relationship with your students makes the interactions feel more engaging and authentic.
    • Wait time. Give students a chance to respond to a question. Allow them to collect their thoughts, look through their notes and formulate an answer. Practice being comfortable with periods of silence.
    • Encourage early speaking. Getting students to sound their own voices early in class in ways that are safe and easy, such as summarizing a prior discussion post, or reading aloud, can prime them to speak more later.
    • Preparation in pairs or small groups. Give students the opportunity to discuss or write about a topic in smaller groups before asking for contributions in the larger group.
    • Encourage students to pose questions in advance. Ask the students to write a question on a card and bring it to class. Compile the cards, pick a few interesting ones, read them out (or write them on the board) and answer them collectively as a class. Or, ask students if there is anything they want you to go over. Write the topic on the board and ask if other students can answer the query before answering it yourself.
    • Have students present. Have students take turns introducing or explaining a topic to the class.
    • Manage over-participation. Some students talk too much, which can crowd out those who feel more cautious or who need more time to gather their thoughts. Try waiting until a few hands are up before calling on anyone. If the same students continually provide answers, an instructor might say something like “Let’s hear from some of the other voices in class.” Or, the instructor might follow a talkative student’s comments with a simple invitation to others, such as, “Who has something to add?”

    Online Teaching and Learning

    UWM’s Center for Online Teaching and Learning has many opportunities for instructors to become more adept at online teaching, including their self-paced Online and Blended Teaching Program. Teaching Assistants teaching online for the first time are strongly encouraged to consult CETL and their program about best practices.

    In addition, the educational learning specialist in the School of Education has curated a number of additional resources for students and instructors to have an optimal online learning experience.

    For synchronous online courses, instructors should consider including informing students of their rights and responsibilities related to recorded meetings and to maintaining confidentiality in online courses. Below is some sample language:

    “I will alert you when we record any of the sessions. These recordings will be available only to other students in the course on Canvas and you will have the right to be informed when recording is starting or stopping and to turn off your camera when we begin recording.”

    “To protect privacy and confidentiality of other students in the course, no student is permitted to record the lectures or any class meetings on their own or to take and share screenshots of other people in the course.”

    Giving Feedback to Students

    A Teaching Assistant will provide feedback to students mainly by grading assignments, responding in writing to written work, and responding during class discussion. It pays to remember that instructors provide feedback in every interaction, not just through grades and written comments, but also through their interactions with students in class, and even through their facial expressions and other non-verbal cues.

    There are also different points in the learning process when feedback can be used, and different goals in providing it. A final grade in a course is a different kind of feedback than formative feedback on an early draft of an assignment.

    Similarly, there are different kinds of feedback. Corrective feedback might focus on fixing errors, and in some fields this may be the most important form. Directive feedback is more forward looking, and helps the student think about what to do different next time more generally. Evaluative feedback, such as grades, communicates a judgement about quality or success. It can be useful to distinguish the different kinds of feedback possible, and to think carefully about when each kind is most appropriate. Teaching Assistants should be sure their approach to feedback is aligned with their supervisor’s expectations.

    There are many guides to effective feedback, including this helpful guide for writing feedback, which has many lessons transferrable to other kinds of teaching and learning. There are also some best practices that can be valuable in any field. These include:

    • Focus on positives. Students need to know what they’re doing well, and not just absorb a litany of their failures.
    • Constructive feedback. Provide feedback that aims for improvement and future success.
    • Be timely. Feedback should be given while the work and learning are still fresh.
    • Summarize. Simply repeating back to the student what they seem to be doing can provide valuable evidence about whether they have succeeded.
    • Focus. Concentrating on the main opportunity for improvement, rather than listing every possible opportunity, makes progress feel more manageable.
    • Like the work. Communicating friendly interest or admiration no matter what the grade can be encouraging and can make other feedback easier to take.

    Feedback also should be a two-way process. It is just as important to receive feedback from students as it is to provide it to them. See Section 4.6 on the evaluation of instructors for more information about soliciting and receiving feedback.

    Teaching Assistants can find many more resources on all aspects of teaching, including instructor feedback, at UWM’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.


Research Assistants

Section 5

    What is a Research Assistant?

    A Research Assistant is a graduate student assigned to conduct research that is for the benefit of the student’s own learning and research and for the benefit of the university, faculty or academic staff supervisor or granting agency. This title does not include students provided fellowships, scholarships, or traineeships, which are distributed through other titles such as fellow, scholar, or trainee.

    Most graduate Research Assistants are located within the home department of the graduate student. Most are also located within the primary research lab of the graduate student’s major professor or advisor. However, some cross-lab or cross-department research assistantships exist too. Similarly, most research assistantships are directly related to the research interests of the graduate student, such as a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation, but sometimes Research Assistants will be hired to work on topics unrelated to their research.

    Roles and Responsibilities of Research Assistants

    Responsibilities of the graduate Research Assistants must involve active research of some form, regardless of whether the research is the assistant’s own. This can involve employment for regular fieldwork, lab work, library research, data analysis, writing, curating of exhibitions, or any other activity that can be counted as research. Research Assistants are not significantly involved with teaching or primarily devoted to administrative functions, such as working as filing or reception.

    The duties of Research Assistants vary considerably, but may include:

    • Searching for and reviewing published literature on a research topic
    • Helping to develop a project methodology
    • Assisting with lab work
    • Taking notes
    • Attending team or project meetings
    • Assisting in developing resources for project management
    • Collecting data
    • Entering and analyzing data
    • Supervising undergraduate research assistants or other personnel on research-related tasks
    • Assisting with manuscript or grant development
    • Preparing reports or presentations
    • Corresponding with funding agencies

    In all cases, the exact responsibilities of the Research Assistant depend on the nature of the work and assignments made by the supervisor. However, work assigned should be related to research, even if it involves the least glamorous parts of research, such as organizing and storing data or managing correspondence with collaborators.

    Work assignments should not include personal assistance to the supervisor or others, such as running personal errands for the supervisor’s family. If the work is primarily clerical or pedagogical, the Graduate Assistant might be more appropriately appointed as a Project Assistant or Teaching Assistant instead.

    Research assistantships are offers of employment based on merit, or as part of a recruitment package to attend UWM. Assistants should not be asked to pay additional fees to work as an assistant, beyond the routine fees associated with studying at UWM.

    Roles and Responsibilities of Supervisors

    Supervisors of Research Assistants may have multiple overlapping roles with respect to RAs which add complexity to the supervisory relationship. The supervisor may or may not be the graduate student’s research mentor or academic advisor. The activities required of the assistant also may or may not relate to their own graduate research for their master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation.

    In all cases, it is the supervisor’s responsibility to clearly communicate the expectations of the position and the roles and responsibilities of the Research Assistant and of the supervisor.

    Research Assistants and their supervisors should discuss any technical or safety training required prior to beginning the work or at other regular junctures during the appointments, the number of hours to be spent on-site versus remotely, and the approach to time off from Research Assistant responsibilities (e.g., how much time is allowed, how much notice is required).

    It also can be useful to discuss the management style of the supervisor and the research group culture. Understanding whether to report to another graduate student, postdoc, staff member, or the supervisor directly, and whether there are requirements for weekly, monthly or semester meetings or reports, will help level the expectations for the student and the supervisor.

    Research Assistants should ask about these matters when in doubt, but it is the supervisor’s responsibility to communicate expectations openly and clearly.

    Workload of Research Assistants

    When a Research Assistant is employed at a 50 percent appointment, they are expected to work for about 20 hours per week, although as salaried employees some weeks may require more work than others. However, only Research Assistants employed to do work that does not contribute to the assistant’s own research should be limited to the appointment amount.

    In most cases, Research Assistants will be working for their dissertation advisors on shared research projects that benefit both the Principal Investigator and the graduate student’s own research. As a result, it is usually impossible to draw a bright line between a time spent in the lab working as a Research Assistant, and time spent in the lab working on one’s own research. In many cases, they will be the same thing. As a result, Research Assistants whose employment significantly overlaps with their own research may be expected to spend much more time in a lab.

    These extra expectations should not be stated as conditions of employment but should instead be expressed as expectations of time the student should commit toward their own research goals and academic training. Such non-compensated expectations should be discussed in advance with the student to help the student set academic and professional goals. Just as a syllabus contains a statement of time expectations, so supervisors should clearly communicate how much time Research Assistants may need to spend in the lab for the purpose of their studies, beyond the required 20 hours of employment each week. Instead of a single conversation at the start of employment, regular conversations are strongly encouraged so that both the supervisor and the assistant can revisit the issue in light of changing opportunities and demands.

    Human Subject Research

    Many Research Assistants will work with human research subjects, whether in health-related fields that research human physiology or in social sciences fields that study human behavior. Research on human subjects falls under UWM’s Human Research Protection Program, which is designed to minimize the risks and maximize the potential benefits for human subjects who participate in research.

    Research Assistants may be involved in research that requires approval by the Institutional Review Board (IRB), which reviews proposed studies to ensure the protection of human subjects. This includes reviews of matters such as the safety of those involved in the research, proper methods of incentivizing participation and securing consent, and the secure storage of private information, to name only a few.

    In most cases, a student working in fields involving human subject research will get guidance from their supervisor or advisor. Still, they should be aware that there are special requirements for human subject research, including required training for all Principal Investigators and Student Principal Investigators, and strongly recommended training for anyone interacting with research participants.

    Research with human subjects involves legal and ethical considerations about risks and benefits to participants and making decisions about the appropriate approach to the research can be challenging and even controversial. Additionally, unanticipated legal and ethical issues can arise over the course of research activities. Research Assistants who have ethical or legal concerns regarding the research activities in which they are involved should first discuss those concerns with the Principal Investigator. The Principal Investigator may have good justification for the approach to the research or may consider adjustments to the approach given the concerns raised. If the Research Assistant continues to have concerns once discussing the matter with the Principal Investigator, they should consider discussing those concerns with the program’s graduate representative or the department chair.

    Animal Research

    UWM has policies related to research involving animals. All animals involved in research must be included in a protocol approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Researchers who work with animals must take part in the Animal Care Program Certification Process, as well as the Occupational Health Program. The supervisor of any Research Assistant working with animals must refer them to these and any other required training or certification.

    For more information, see the Animal Care Program at University Safety and Assurances website.

    Co-Publication with Supervisors and Advisors

    Research Assistants often collaborate with each other and with a Principal Investigator or their advisor on publications resulting from shared research. In some cases, the activities of Research Assistants are directly related to completion of milestones within the program (e.g., master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation) while in other cases assistants’ activities might be unrelated. Although Research Assistants might be included as co-authors in publications, there are also scenarios in which they might not be included. Regular communication between the supervisor and the assistant about expectations is important and should happen periodically rather than only at the beginning of the supervisory relationship.

    Because supervisors of Research Assistants are also often the assistants’ doctoral advisors, they should take care to discuss publication expectations early in students’ graduate careers, and especially to clarify whether publication will be considered part of progress toward graduation. These discussions might address the number and timeline of publications relative to a target graduation date, as well as the role of the Research Assistant in the efforts.

    It is important to have regular and ongoing conversations about publications and expectations about publication. Sometimes authorship considerations shift if a paper is not submitted for publication in a timely fashion. Similarly, if the focus of a publication shifts over time (e.g., to include additional data collected, or to include a different analytic approach), reconsideration of authorship may be needed. Additionally, some journals have particular authorship requirements that might determine who can be included on a publication.

    Intellectual Property

    Principal investigators of sponsored projects must be cognizant of various federal, state, and campus regulations that govern intellectual property. As an institution that receives federal funds and as a publicly-controlled institution of higher education, UWM requires all individuals engaged in the research and development enterprise to understand their role in the intellectual property process.

    These responsibilities involve the creation and maintenance of a system of records that provides evidence of authorship or ownership, as well as required disclosures about discoveries arising from research at UWM.

    There are many other complex considerations related to patents and copyright, and to the co-ownership of patents and copyright by researchers and the UWM Research Foundation. When a Research Assistant is in a position that might result in a publication or an intellectual property disclosure, the disclosure should clearly address authorship and the ownership of intellectual property rights of the material. Research Assistants and their supervisors should discuss these and other matters as early in the process as possible to avoid misunderstandings.

    Research Assistants should not submit research work for presentation at conferences or for publication, engage in any interviews with press, or share their work on social media without prior consultation with their supervisor.

    For more information, see the Intellectual Property webpage at UWM’s Office of Research.

    Funding Continuation and Renewal

    While funding for a Research Assistant is usually allocated on a semester, academic year, or calendar year basis, the supervisor should communicate the likelihood of the continuation of funding and the process by which funding decisions are made. Contracts are not made for more than one year at a time. Supervisors should help their Research Assistants understand the funding available from the grant through which they are funded and how continuation of funding will be determined. The supervisor also should convey whether the Research Assistant is expected to participate in the grant writing process.

    Information and Data Security

    All members of the UWM community are required to complete annual information security training, but the responsibilities of many Research Assistants are much greater. Research Assistants should understand a wider range of information and data security policies at UWM and how the data generated from research may be susceptible. In addition, Research Assistants are often responsible for maintaining more sensitive data, such as the private information of individuals in a research study, patentable research results, or information relevant to national security.

    Research Assistants should always use university-provided email and lab-related storage (rather than personal OneDrive space) for all research-related activities. This ensures that basic campus-level data security processes are in place and ensures continued access to their work by the PI following the conclusion of their Research Assistant’s position.

    Research Assistants also must learn to identify and describe the principles of information security and recognize common threats to information security. They also must use appropriate strategies to minimize information security risks in relation to research data, which may vary considerably depending on the nature of the research project. Supervisors may institute other data security requirements, such as restrictions on the use of email, rules related to the use of email attachments, or guidance on the appropriate use of USB flash drives. Research Assistants must be scrupulous in their observance of all data security rules. When in doubt about information security practices, Research Assistants should consult their supervisors.

    For policies and training on information and data security, please see UWM’s Information Security website.

    Laboratory Safety and Procedures

    Research Assistants often work in environments with complex health and safety requirements. Equipment, chemicals, animals and biological materials can all be dangerous if not handled properly. For general information on all UWM Safety and Health Programs, see University Safety and Assurances’ Safety and Health Programs website.

    Because many Research Assistants work in UWM laboratories, lab procedures are especially important. Labs should have training for all new personnel, including Research Assistants. Eating and drinking are often prohibited in labs, or the placement, storage, and consumption of food regulated. In addition, minors are prohibited from UWM labs, studios, shops or other areas where health hazards are present. There are also policies on working in isolation in potentially hazardous environments.

    For more information on these and other laboratory safety resources, see the Laboratory Procedures webpage at University Safety and Assurances’ Safety and Health Programs. Additional Laboratory Training resources are also available.


Project Assistants

Section 6

    What is a Project Assistant?

    A Project Assistant (sometimes called a “Program Assistant”) is a graduate student enrolled at UWM who is assigned to conduct training, administrative responsibilities or other academic or academic support projects or programs under the supervision of a member of the faculty or academic staff, primarily for the benefit of the university, faculty or academic staff supervisor or a granting agency. Project Assistants are employed in clerical, support or administrative functions that do not directly involve teaching or research.

    Like other kinds of assistants, Project Assistants are eligible for tuition remission if they are appointed at 33 percent of a full time position or greater.

    The work that Project Assistants do is highly variable. Some may work semi-independently and remotely on long-term projects. Others will report for regular shifts in offices, and fill roles such as front desk reception. Some will make use of their professional skills in their position, such as math student who assists with a statistical project. Others might work in more administrative roles, such as helping to organize events.

    Unlike Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants, Project Assistants are paid hourly, and are required to submit a bi-weekly timesheet.

    Roles and Responsibilities of Project Assistants

    The responsibilities of a Project Assistant vary widely and should be stated clearly at the time of hiring in a position description that defines the general parameters of the work. Depending on the kind of work they do, they may work more or less autonomously, and undertake more or less ambitious and difficult work.

    Beyond the scope of their work, Project Assistants typically work in professional and administrative environments, so they are responsible for conducting themselves according to the professional standards that apply. This will always include timeliness in reporting to work, email decorum, and professional interactions with colleagues and those served by the hiring unit. Appropriate dress is also required, but may vary considerably depending on the position.

    Roles and Responsibilities of Supervisors

    Supervisors of Project Assistants are responsible for promptly approving timesheets to ensure that their assistants are paid regularly and on time. They also exercise the normal responsibilities of all supervisors. They should clarify work expectations, provide feedback and support, and ensure regular and effective communication. UWM provides guidance for administrative supervisors that can be useful, especially for staff who have not previously supervised Project Assistants.

    Timeclock and Hours Reporting

    Unlike Teaching and Research Assistants, Project Assistants are paid hourly, so must enter their work hours into the Human Resources timesheet online during each pay period. Failure to enter hours accurately or promptly may result in delayed payments.

    FERPA and Working with Student Records

    Many Project Assistants have access to student records and data to carry out their responsibilities. They may help monitor an email inbox that receives sensitive communications, or they may be involved in processes related to admission, housing, or graduation. In all cases, assistants are reminded of the importance of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which makes most student information private. For more information about FERPA, see the FERPA section of this Handbook, or visit UWM’s FERPA website.


Student Hourly Employment

Section 7

    What is a Student Hourly Employee?

    Student hourly employees are enrolled students who perform part-time and sometimes temporary administrative, clerical, technical, or manual work on behalf of the university. These positions range from administrative support roles in offices to jobs in Restaurant Operations. The Office of Human Resources maintains a separate Student Employment Manual for hourly employees with more information.

    Student hourly employees are paid an hourly rate and must complete bi-weekly timesheets to be paid. Student hourly positions are not eligible for tuition remission at any appointment level. However, student hourly appointments are considered when assessing maximum appointments for graduate students, such as a student appointed as a 50 percent Research Assistant who also works 10 hours per week as a student hourly employee, the equivalent of a 75 percent appointment.

    There are two main categories of student hourly employees:

    Non-Federal Student Employment: This type of employment allows undergraduate and graduate students to work on-campus under a non-federal student employment account, paid 100% from the employing department’s budget. It is not a type of financial aid and is not based on need. Any UWM student may seek non-federal student employment.

    Federal Work-Study (FWS): Limited in funds, this type of employment allows undergraduate and graduate students to work in specified positions, which are paid in part by federal work study funding (FWS). FWS is a form of financial aid and therefore a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the appropriate academic year must be completed in order to determine the financial need of the student. FWS awards are not disbursed in a lump sum as are other forms of federal aid.

    Roles and Responsibilities of Student Hourly Employees

    The roles and responsibilities of student hourly employees vary greatly and should be defined in a job description at the time of hiring. Employees must be enrolled for credit during the duration of their employment at UWM, except for the summer. They are required to perform their job in a satisfactory manner, and to observe the work rules and requirements of the employing unit. They also must notify their supervisor if they are working other jobs, including graduate assistantships.

    Roles and Responsibilities of Supervisors of Student Hourly Employees

    Supervisors of student hourly employees are responsible for promptly approving timesheets to ensure that their assistants are paid regularly and on time. They also exercise the normal responsibilities of all supervisors. They should clarify work expectations, provide feedback and support, and ensure regular and effective communication. UWM provides guidance for administrative supervisors that can be useful, especially for staff who have not previously supervised project assistants.

    Timeclock and Hours Reporting

    Student hourly employees must enter their work hours into the Human Resources timesheet online during each pay period. Failure to enter hours accurately or promptly may result in delayed payments.

    Professional Expectations

    Many student hourly employees work in public facing offices or other administrative units in which professional standards of conduct apply. Supervisors should clarify any professional standards for all employees, such as an office dress code. Other expectations that supervisors and employees might clarify include email and phone manners, procedures for calling in sick, or the proper use and maintenance of shared areas of the office. It is the responsibility of supervisors to communicate expectations clearly in advance. When employees are in doubt about expectations, they are strongly encouraged to ask their supervisor.

    FERPA and Working with Student Records

    Some student hourly employees will have access to student records and data to carry out their responsibilities. They may help monitor an email inbox that receives sensitive communications, or they may be involved in processes related to admission, housing, or graduation. In all cases, assistants are reminded of the importance of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which makes most student information private. For more information about FERPA, see the FERPA section of this Handbook, or visit UWM’s FERPA website.


Best Practices for Graduate Assistant

Section 8

    Time Management

    Preparing for class, grading assignments, meeting with students, and providing feedback can be time consuming. Finding the right balance between going to class, performing TA duties and conducting research requires considerable planning on the part of TAs. As workloads increase, assistants will need to be more organized and intentional about managing their time and allocating it to specific tasks.

    As noted in other sections of this handbook, assistants can benefit from tracking how they spend their time. Many are surprised to find that their intuitive estimates of how much time they spend on teaching preparation are extremely inaccurate. Assistants must have a realistic sense of how they are spending their time before they can make meaningful improvements. They also might need to consult with supervisors to assess whether the amount of time spent on some regular task is reasonable, or whether more or less time should be allocated to it.

    To track their time, assistants should consider logging their activities for a few weeks using a timesheet like the one below. There are also free and low-cost apps for computers and smartphones designed to help people in any field track their time commitments, such as Clockify or Toggl. A few weeks spent carefully recording time investments can pay off later in the form of much greater efficiency.

    Sample time-log for Teaching Assistant activities

    UWM’s suite of software provided through Microsoft 365 also includes time management tools that many Graduate Assistants will find useful. Many of these are integrated with each other, such as task lists and calendars.

    Microsoft Outlook contains an online calendar that can be useful for reserving blocks of time for teaching and teaching preparation, but also for reserving blocks of time for students’ own coursework and research. The calendar also can be used to schedule appointments with students and others, to provide reminder alerts, and to schedule periods when notifications are silenced.

    Microsoft Lists is a powerful tool for keeping track of projects and their deadlines, including collaborative projects.

    Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Planner also can help with managing tasks, teamwork, and scheduling.

    Other free non-UWM tools that may be useful in managing your time including the following scheduling:

    Doodle poll: https://doodle.com/make-a-poll

    When2meet: https://www.when2meet.com/

    Calendly: https://calendly.com/

    Work/Life Balance

    Balancing teaching and learning with the rest of life can be challenging for everyone, but Graduate Assistants who invest many hours into their teaching will still have many more hours of work to do as students. As the previous section on time management suggests, careful scheduling and good organization are essential. However, even with the best intentions and the most careful planning, many graduate students and Graduate Assistants will find that they have very little free time, and there will be intense periods of work when balance seems especially hard to achieve. While striving for balance, graduate students and assistants also should recognize that they are embarking on a period of dedicated work that will be challenging.

    Even under such pressures, assistants must find some time to recharge or burnout eventually will slow their progress. Scheduling some time for socializing, family, exercise, and even sleep—even if these get less time than before—can help preserve some balance.

    Supervisors of Graduate Assistants are urged to be cognizant of students’ lives outside the classroom or lab. Supervisors also must strike a balance between maintaining high expectations for the work of assistants and the performance of students, and having a realistic sense of how well students can perform over the long term without time to recharge. Because many graduate students also have other obligations, including families of their own, sensitivity to Graduate Assistants’ need for balance can be a powerful support for their long-term success.

    The recommendations below are common ingredients in good work/life balance. Not all of them will be equally important to any given assistant. Some assistants need more solitude, others more society. Some need more sleep, others more exercise. Very few assistants will be able to follow all these recommendations, but each assistant might consider which of these feels the most restorative and try to prioritize them.

    Reserve alone time. Especially for those who feel overwhelmed by the social intensity of teaching, working in a lab, or being in classes, reserving time alone can help with recharging. Block regular times to take a walk, watch a movie, read a book for leisure, or do something else quiet and alone, even if only for a half hour. Some people need more time alone than others.

    Seek social time. Making time for social interaction is essential for everyone. New assistants often find it hard to develop a social circle in a new city and new program, but there are many opportunities to get to know other graduate students who are in the same position. The Union, the Graduate School, individual colleges, URec, and other units on campus regularly have social gatherings or outings. These can be especially helpful for meeting people outside of an assistant’s own program.

    Make time for exercise. Schedule regular time to go for a walk or run, visit the Klotsche Center, attend a yoga or spin class, or play on an adult sports team in Milwaukee. Exercise can help reduce stress, improve mood, and boost productivity. But too often it is the first thing students cancel when schedules become full.

    Eat well. Healthy eating pays off in the long run, but sometimes requires a little more time and planning. Plan meals and healthy lunches, and reserve time to grocery shop for what you need each week in order to avoid falling back on fast food. Consume alcohol in moderation and beware of the effects that alcohol and excessive caffeine consumption might have on sleep.

    Get enough sleep. Very few people perform well with fewer than 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Some need more and some need less, but very few will feel happy and productive if they regularly sleep less than 7 hours each night. Beware that alcohol consumption can also affect the quality of sleep.

    Cultural Awareness and Unconscious Bias

    UWM has the most diverse campus in the UW System, and its guiding values include the “stewardship of resources that promote sustainability, prosperity, and equity for all in the local and global communities.” All graduate assistants can reflect those values by cultivating cultural awareness and learning more about unconscious bias.

    UWM’s Equity/Diversity Services provides links to information and resources on implicit or unconscious bias that may be useful to assistants and their supervisors.

    Cultural awareness is especially important for Teaching Assistants, who work so closely with members of UWM’s diverse undergraduate body. Culturally responsive pedagogy incorporates students’ cultural identities and lived experiences into the classroom in order to improve the quality of instruction. Likewise, inclusive and equity-minded teaching aims to ensure that all students, with varied social identities and differing backgrounds, are able to connect meaningfully to course content, fully participate in classes, effectively learn and demonstrate what they’re learning.

    Teaching Assistants are encouraged to consult resources to ensure that cultural inclusion, responsivity, equity, and diversity are reflected in teaching materials, course structure and policies. Supervisors are also encouraged to discuss culturally sensitive teaching with their assistants before the start of the semester.

    UWM’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning promotes inclusive and equity-minded teaching through many of its services and resources.

    Additional resources at UWM include:

    Additional online resources include:

    Managing Conflict

    Conflicts sometimes arise for graduate assistants, whether between Research Assistants in a lab, between Teaching Assistants and their students, or between assistants and their supervisors. Managing conflict productively and respectfully is an important personal and professional skill. When they find themselves in conflict, all members of the UWM community are urged to reflect on the positive values described in the Code of Conduct, and to work toward a resolution while upholding those values.

    The majority of conflicts should be addressed directly by those in conflict. Often the best path forward is for parties to meet in person or online to discuss the conflict and try to arrive at a mutually satisfactory resolution. This meeting should occur at a time and in a place that feels sufficiently safe, comfortable, and private to both parties. It’s also important that the purpose of the meeting is clear to all involved, so that neither party feels “ambushed” by a conversation they weren’t expecting about a conflict they weren’t aware of. Many people find that it is not productive to try to resolve conflicts by email or text, and at a certain point written exchanges can even escalate conflicts unnecessarily; without the cues of tone of voice and facial expression, these written exchanges are more apt to be misread.

    Resolving a conflict requires commitment on both sides. During the meeting, both sides must be willing to let the other side have their say, and to listen openly and actively. Both sides should work toward mutual understanding of the real source of the conflict, which may or may not be the same as the occasion that sparked it. Frequently, incidents of visible conflict are caused by underlying patterns of miscommunication or interpersonal tensions, and these underlying patterns must be repaired for the conflict to be fully resolved.

    Sometimes a third-party facilitator or mediator can assist in resolving a conflict, especially if initial attempts to resolve the conflict have failed. At times, if a power imbalance exists between the parties in conflict, the presence of a neutral facilitator can shift the power dynamics enough for a more honest and productive conversation to occur. For graduate assistants, a facilitated conversation might mean that a Research Assistant and their supervisor would sit down with the department chair or some other person that both sides trust. For a Teaching Assistant who has a conflict with a student, it might mean having a joint meeting with the instructor of record for the course.

    The Dean of Students can also help assistants navigate conflicts and mediate resolutions. For instance, if a graduate assistant has a conflict with a supervisor or major professor, they might want guidance on how to approach the matter most diplomatically. To consult the Dean of Students, assistants can write to dos@uwm.edu.

    Styles of Conflict Management

    Everyone brings a style of conflict management to each occasion of conflict, although most people have not reflected on their own conflict styles, or tendencies. Some models of conflict management identify five styles.

    • The style of competition is assertive and insistent and those who practice it try to take charge of the situation to advance desired goals or their own interests.
    • The style of accommodation is unassertive and highly cooperative, and those who practice it assume that relationships are important, and will give up their own goals or preferences to preserve relationships.
    • The style of avoidance is unassertive and nonconfrontational and those who practice it will withdraw from the conflict rather than engage it directly.
    • The style of collaboration is assertive and cooperative and those who practice it value both individual goals and relationships. Collaborators engage conflicts by trying to negotiate new solutions that will meet everyone’s needs.
    • Finally, the style of compromise is a middle-ground approach; compromisers typically seek a solution that will give everyone some part of what they want.

    Just knowing that one has a tendency toward a certain style of conflict management can make conflict easier to navigate. And having a sense for the various possible options can help people be more intentional and adaptive in how they approach a particular conflict. None of the styles above are purely good or bad; rather, each one offers certain advantages and disadvantages. In some situations, a competitive style might be the best way to effectively achieve an important goal, while in other situations, the relational cost of this style might be too high. Similarly, while a collaborative style is sometimes the best way to maintain relationships and negotiate mutually satisfactory solutions, this approach requires more time and energy. So in some situations, more pressing time constraints might mean that compromising offers the best way to quickly reach a short-term solution.

    Those interested in learning more about their conflict style are encouraged to take this brief online Conflict Styles Assessment offered by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

    Conflict in the Classroom

    Handling conflict in the classroom is easier in a climate characterized by respect, trust, and responsible care for everyone present. Even then there may be conflicts to manage, but in general an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning has excellent Guidelines for Classroom Conflict Transformation, which can help foster a classroom climate in which disagreements about issues are less likely to escalate into personal conflicts.

    Still, when conflicts emerge it is the instructor’s responsibility to respond, usually in the moment. This can be uncomfortable for instructors, especially when conflicts erupt over hurtful remarks or harmful behaviors. Few instructors feel completely confident in these moments, so it can be reassuring to know that even experienced instructors find this stressful too.

    The CETL website has good advice about dealing with heated conflicts in the moment: “At a minimum, pause and acknowledge the tension you’re feeling. It is better to respond with imperfect words than to try to ignore or avoid the conflict.” It can help to acknowledge the discomfort by saying something like, “Whew, it seems we’ve really started addressing some painful topics,” or, “I can really feel how passionately people feel about the different sides of this issue.” If a student uses derogatory language or directs a hurtful comment toward another student, it’s important to interrupt that behavior immediately; you might say something like, “Personal attacks or language like that is not okay in this classroom. We can disagree, but we need to treat each other respectfully.”

    Pausing the discussion may let the pressure subside. You might say something like, “We’re into this pretty deep. Maybe we should take a moment to pause and let our thoughts catch up to our words.” Like a timeout in a basketball game, even a very short break can help everyone regain their composure. Another strategy that may helpfully de-escalate the conflict in the room is to give students a few moments to write about what they’re experiencing, feeling, or noticing. This offers students a different way to process what’s happening and may help them engage disagreements more constructively.

    It can also help to know that Teaching Assistants are not expected to have all the answers, or to have the power to make conflict go away. An instructor might say, “These are really tough conversations, and I don’t always know how to talk about this either.” When conversations get heated, gentle reminders can also bring down the temperature: “In tough discussions like this one, I try to pause to remind myself that I never have all the answers, and that we’re all trying to figure it out together.”

    When conflicts are long-running, such as students who disrupt class with ongoing feuds or who behave disrespectfully to each other, private interventions might be needed to help those involved adopt more respectful and productive approaches. Teaching Assistants concerned about conflicts should always consult their supervisors. If assistants need additional support or have other questions or concerns, they can also contact the Dean of Students for guidance at dos@uwm.edu.

    Disruptive Student Behavior

    UWM’s policy SAAP 1-5 on Behavior Cases Impeding Learning Process addresses the shared responsibility of instructors and students for a positive educational environment. Graduate Assistants sometimes encounter disruptive behavior by undergraduate students in classrooms, labs, or even university offices.

    Disruptive behavior involves serious impairment or obstruction of the teaching and learning process. It usually involves behavior that makes it difficult for normal learning to continue. Examples include speaking persistently in a class without being recognized, repeatedly interrupting others, exhibiting verbal or other behaviors that distract the class from the subject matter, making physical threats, harassing behavior, delivering personal insults, and refusing to comply with reasonable faculty direction. The link above to SAAP 1-5 has guidelines for addressing a wide range of disruptive behaviors.

    The line between disruptive behavior and some other kinds of behavior can be hard to determine. SAAP 1-5 also defines other kinds of behavior that are less serious than disruptive behavior, such as dissent, incivility, or eccentricity. These behaviors can usually be addressed effectively through conventional classroom management techniques that include addressing behavior expectations in the syllabus and during the first class period, in-class intervention, and speaking to a student after class and close to the time to when the behavior occurred. The link above to SAAP 1-5 has guidelines for de-escalating inappropriate behavior.

    Graduate Assistants who encounter disruptive behavior in the classroom should generally consult their supervisors about the most appropriate way to proceed.

    Students in Distress

    Graduate Assistants sometimes encounter undergraduate students who are distressed. UWM’s policy SAAP 1-5 on Behavior Cases Impeding Learning Process addresses the shared responsibility of instructors and students for a positive educational environment.

    Distressed behavior involves issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol or drug problems, financial difficulties, depression, or difficulty concentrating. These may be mental health issues or the results of stressful events that diminish academic performance.

    When a Graduate Assistant is concerned for a distressed student’s wellbeing, they should reach out to the student privately to find out if the student needs support or assistance. Sometimes both faculty instructors and Graduate Assistants are reluctant to engage distressed students because they do not want to say the wrong thing. However, for many students, simply knowing someone cares can make all the difference. An ability to be empathetic and express concern may be a critical factor in helping a student get help or resolve their problems.

    Student Health and Wellness Center provides a useful guide for all instructors, including Graduate Assistants, Assisting the Emotionally Distressed Student: A Guide for Faculty and Staff.

    Tips for addressing distressed behavior from SAAP 1-5 include:

    • Talk to the student, if possible after class or in an office.
    • Genuinely listen.
    • Acknowledge the student’s concerns and avoid judgment.
    • If the behavior is approaching disruption, set limits and expectations and be firm.
    • If worried about suicide, ask the student direct questions to assess their intentions, such as, “Are you thinking about suicide?” “What have you thought about doing?” and “What resources/friends/organizations have you utilized for support?”

    Graduate Assistants may tell students that they will respect the students’ privacy; however, assistants should not promise confidentiality, because threats to self and others, sexual violence, and child abuse must be reported. See the Mandated Reporting section of this Handbook.

    A student may need to be referred for counseling, medical help, or academic assistance. Instructors can seek consultation to help determine the best approach for assisting a student by contacting the Student Health and Wellness Center at 414-229-4716 or reviewing the resources on their website: https://uwm.edu/norris/counseling/.

    Instructors should also notify the Dean of Students Office of concerns about distressed students. Instructors can use the Report It! form or send an email to dos@uwm.edu.

    Some examples of behavioral concerns instructors may want to report:

    • significant change in mood
    • being continually confused, irritated, or depressed
    • noticeable change in quality of work
    • changes in appearance or hygiene
    • inappropriate outburst
    • persistent unwanted contact
    • inappropriate use of violent themes/subjects
    • bizarre verbal or written statements
    • self-report of mental health issues or crime victimization (e.g., domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking)
    • suspected or reported alcohol or drug abuse
    • thoughts of violence toward self or others
    • unusual patterns of coming late to class or leaving early
    • difficulty due to illness or death in the family

    In order to determine the extent of the problem, the Dean of Students Office may consult with other faculty or staff involved with the student. Consultations may also involve other university personnel (e.g., Student Health and Wellness Center staff, academic adviser, University Housing, etc.). Solutions such as counseling referral and academic changes (e.g., dropping the class or withdrawal from school) will be explored.

    Writing Letters of Recommendation

    You may be asked to write a letter of recommendation or serve as a reference for current or past students in your courses. It is your right to decline to write a letter, especially if you cannot write a strong one in support of the student, but submitting a letter is a wonderful chance to support a student in pursuit of financial aid, scholarships or future academic or career opportunities. To be asked to serve as a reference is often an indication of the positive relationship you have built with the student. Assistants new to writing letters of recommendation should consult their supervisors about the standards and expectations that might be involved.

    If the application is for a professional or graduate school, however, a letter from a Teaching Assistant may bear less weight than one from a faculty member. Consider a collaborative letter with a faculty member for the student.

    Letters are typically sent on university letterhead. Please contact staff in your program or college to obtain appropriate letterhead or electronic letterhead templates.

    Those writing letters of recommendation should bear in mind that they have a responsibility not only to recommend the student but also to help the recipient assess the student as accurately as possible.

    Chain of Command

    A Graduate Assistant is a university employee, and as such has a supervisor, who in turn has a supervisor, all the way up the chain to the Chancellor of the university, and even the president of the University of Wisconsin System. When questions, concerns, or conflicts arise that require the attention of a supervisor, employees should contact their immediate supervisor first. For a Research Assistant, this might mean taking a question or concern to the Principal Investigator of their lab. For a Teaching Assistant it might mean taking a question or concern to the faculty instructor for the course in which they are leading a discussion section. Employees generally should not skip steps by going over the head of an immediate supervisor to the next level of management. Direct supervisors have the most knowledge of the circumstances involved and are usually in the best position to help find a solution.

    There will be times when the Graduate Assistant’s immediate supervisor will need to call on higher authorities, such as the department chair or even the associate dean or dean of the college. There also might be rare occasions when it is appropriate for an employee to consult someone higher up first. For example, if a Graduate Assistant has a serious complaint about a direct supervisor, such as an allegation of bullying, it would be appropriate to discuss that with the department chair rather than with the direct supervisor.

    Employees who skip steps on routine matters without good reason tend to be taken less seriously, and often will be asked to return the question to the appropriate level. For instance, a teaching assistant who directs a complaint about a room assignment to the provost of the university likely will not receive an answer, but will be asked to direct the question more appropriately. When in doubt, assistants should seek guidance from others about the appropriate person or office to contact.

    Sometimes employees do not like the answer they receive from their direct supervisor, so seek a second opinion from the next level of supervision. Assistants are cautioned to be careful with this approach, which can appear to be insubordinate and should be justified only by serious circumstances. For instance, if a supervisor refused to take a legitimate safety concern in a lab seriously, the assistant who raised the concern might have an obligation to communicate with someone at a higher level to protect others in the lab. However, they are advised to do so respectfully and diplomatically, in order to preserve their relationship with their immediate supervisor. A discrete conversation with the program’s Graduate Representative or the department chair can sometimes help assistants better understand a supervisor’s decisions.


Campus Resources

Section 9

    Campus Resource Webpages

    The resources organized by topic on the other pages in this section include some of the most common resources used by graduate students. However, it is far from exhaustive. Many other units on campus maintain their own pages of links to available resources. The most comprehensive are those of the Dean of Students and the Graduate School. Graduate students may find the following especially useful:

    Library Resources

    Archives and Records Management


    Location: Golda Meir Library, Room W250
    Archives Website: uwm.edu/libraries/archives
    Records Management Page: uwm.edu/libraries/archives/uwm-records-management

    The UWM Archives assists instructors with maintaining current records effectively, identifying the types of records instructors have and how long to keep them, destroying records confidentially, transferring records to the archives, and accessing records already in the archives for research and instruction.

    In addition, the Archives welcomes the opportunity to work with instructors to collaborate in the design of instruction sessions, learning objects, and primary-source-based assignments.

    UWM Libraries

    Location: 2311 East Hartford Avenue
    Libraries Website: uwm.edu/libraries

    Safety Resources

    University Safety & Assurances

    Location: Engelmann Hall 270
    uwm.edu/safety-and-assurances

    The Department of University Safety and Assurances at UWM seeks to promote a positive, campus-wide attitude of safety excellence. The department further includes services such as risk management, environmental protection, animal care program, and Institutional Review Board.

    Be On the Safe Side

    uwm.edu/boss

    Be On The Safe Side (BOSS) is UWM’s late-night, non-emergency, safe ride service which provides safe transportation for students around campus and the surrounding areas.

    UWM Police

    uwm.edu/police

    The UWM Police Department offers protection, safety training, information, and services to the UW Milwaukee community.

    Victim Advocacy Services

    uwm.edu/norris/health-services/survivor-support

    Survivor Support & Victim Advocacy Services provides free, confidential advocacy and support to UWM student victim/survivors of sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence and/or stalking.

    Title IX Office

    uwm.edu/titleix

    UWM’s Title IX Office receives reports of sexual misconduct involving the UWM community, coordinates supportive measures, provides information about response options, and conducts or oversees related investigations. All these duties are guided by a trauma-informed approach that also embraces principles of equity and ensures due process.

    Technology, Computer and Digital Resources

    Canvas Support

    Students: uwm.edu/canvas/students
    Instructors: uwm.edu/canvas/instructors

    Canvas is UWM’s campus-supported digital learning environment. This site contains information on support services available to students for the use of Canvas.

    Classroom Services

    uwm.edu/technology/help

    Classroom Services is part of Campus Technology Support (CTS). The overall mission of the unit is to provide support to classrooms and labs throughout all UWM campuses. The resources provided by Classroom Services include user support and maintenance of any installed classroom technology, execution of technology updates and upgrades, lecture capture and conferencing and computer lab support.

    Technology Resources

    uwm.edu/technology

    Technology Resources include a wide range of services, including the UWM Help Desk, reservations for Audio/Visual equipment, Canvas support, Zoom support, and much more.

    Career Resources

    Career Planning & Resource Center

    uwm.edu/careerplan

    The Career Planning and Resource Center helps with career/major exploration, career planning, finding on/off campus jobs and internships, resumes, interviews and more!

    Teaching Resources

    Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

    uwm.edu/cetl
    Workshops: ltcworkshops.org

    The UWM Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) seeks to foster campus practices in which excellence in teaching and attention to student learning are understood and legitimately pursued as scholarly, intellectual work. CETL offers numerous teaching programs, a range of consultation services, awards and opportunities, technology training and support resources.

    Language Resource Center

    uwm.edu/language-resource-center

    The Language Resource Center provides many services regarding language learning. Instructors can reserve the language oasis, request video/audio recording equipment for collecting learning or teaching artifacts and provide recording assistance. The Language Resource website also includes language resources and workshops.

    Resources for Marginalized Students

    Inclusive Excellence Center

    uwm.edu/inclusiveexcellence

    The Inclusive Excellence Center is a part of the Centers for Advocacy and Student Engagement (CASE). The Center is dedicated to working with and promoting diversity, equity, and social justice on campus, and is home to three programs: the U1.0 First-Generation Community, the Lawton Scholars Program and the DREAMERS Initiative.

    Fostering Success at UWM (Foster/Orphan/Homeless Youth)

    uwm.edu/undergrad-admission/fostering-success-at-uwm

    Fostering Success at UWM provides guidance and support for foster students (and additional resources for those who have been homeless or orphaned but are not in the foster care system) beginning with the admission process and continuing through to graduation. They provide assistance with areas such as scholarship and grant, computer discounts, academic supplies starter kit, life skills workshops, support from a foster success committee member, and help navigating other UWM support services.

    Equity/Diversity Services

    uwm.edu/equity-diversity-services

    The Office of Equity/Diversity Services (EDS) provides services to prevent discrimination and guide institutional compliance with applicable federal and state laws. They provide investigation and resolution of complaints from UWM employees and students, preparation and maintenance of UWM’s Affirmative Action Plan, monitoring progress toward achieving a diverse workforce, and provision of EEO/AA training to the campus.

    LGBTQ+ Resource Center

    uwm.edu/lgbtrc

    The UWM LGBT Resource Center (LGBTRC) strives to create a welcoming campus community by providing social-justice-based education, resources, programming, and support for students across the spectrum of gender and sexuality, with an emphasis on inter-sectional experiences.

    Military and Veteran’s Resource Center

    uwm.edu/mavrc

    As part of the Centers for Advocacy and Student Engagement, MAVRC works to support the UWM military related students while earning their college degree and completing successful transitions into the civilian workplace.

    TRIO Student Support Services

    uwm.edu/student-support-services

    Student Support Services is designed to provide services for individuals from under-represented backgrounds in higher education including: first-generation, low-income, and individuals with disabilities. SSS provides opportunities for academic & professional development and relationship-focused, proactive/holistic student advising.

    Health and Wellness Resources

    University Counseling Services

    uwm.edu/norris/university-counseling-services

    University Counseling Services (UCS) of the Student Health and Wellness Center offers group, couple, and individual counseling as well as crisis intervention. Psychiatric evaluation and brief medication management services are available for students not currently taking psychotropic medication.

    Mental Health Resources

    uwm.edu/mentalhealth/campus-and-community/

    UWM maintains a website dedicated to mental health resources available on campus, in Milwaukee, and nationwide. This includes helpful FAQs, contact information for helplines, and information about University Counseling Services.

    Student Health and Wellness Center

    uwm.edu/norris

    The Student Health and Wellness Center provides students on-campus health services. Their staff assists in identifying, understanding, and responding to student health care needs through medical and mental health care, and health promotion programs.

    Silver Cloud

    uwsystem.silvercloudhealth.com/signup

    SilverCloud offers self-guided programs for anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia, and resilience. The tool is available to faculty, staff, and students at any time, on any device, and at no cost.

    University Recreation (UREC)

    uwm.edu/urec/

    University Recreation (UREC) provides facilities, programs, and services for recreation, health, and wellbeing, including the Klotsche Center, intramural sports, sports clubs, Outdoor Pursuits.

    You@UWM

    uwm.edu/norris/youatuwm/

    You@UWM is a web-based platform that provides information about student success and wellbeing, and that highlights available campus resources. It is a space to self-assess, set goals, and be proactive about health and well-being.

    Student Organization Resources

    Office of Student Involvement

    uwm.edu/studentinvolvement

    The office of student involvement works with students to create memorable experiences and connections beyond the classroom that enrich their lives. It aspires to get every student at UWM involved in ways that enhance their college experience. Student Involvement is your one-stop shop for events, involvement opportunities, and student organizations.

    Academic Support Resources

    Accessibility Resource Center

    uwm.edu/arc

    The Accessibility Resource Center serves students with a wide range of disabilities, and provides them equal access to the university’s academic, social, cultural and recreational programs. This includes evaluating and approving requests for academic and housing accommodations.

    Panther Academic Support Services

    uwm.edu/studentsuccess

    The Tutoring and Supplemental Instruction (formerly Panther Academic Support Services, or PASS) program within the Student Success Center provides UWM undergraduate students with a variety of academic support services to empower them to learn, achieve, and succeed in college. Their services include supplemental instruction, small group tutoring, walk-in tutoring, residence hall tutoring, and online tutoring.

    Student Success Center

    uwm.edu/studentsuccess

    The Student Success Center connects UWM students to peers, faculty, staff, and resources throughout the campus to support the personal and academic success of each student. They provide resources such as peer mentoring, supplemental instruction, tutoring, success coaching, and academic skill development.

    Writing Services

    The Writing Center

    uwm.edu/writing-center

    The UWM Writing Center provides one-on-one writing support with confidentiality and qualified tutors in-person (following COVID-19 pandemic) or online in real-time with text or audio/video options available. All projects are welcome, from weekly course assignments to dissertations, as well as personal documents such as C.V.’s and applications of all sorts.

    Housing Resources

    University Housing

    uwm.edu/housing

    UWM University Housing is committed to enhancing community members’ cultural understanding, leadership skills, academic success, social connections, and social responsibility by creating safe, comfortable, and well-maintained living learning environments that inspire growth and development.

    Academic Calendar Resource

    UWM Academic Calendar

    uwm.edu/onestop/dates-and-deadlines/important-dates-by-term

    The UWM Academic Calendar provides important dates and deadlines that occur by term including breaks.

    Food Resources

    UWM Food Center and Pantry

    uwm.edu/studentassociation/uwmfcp

    The UWM Food Center and Pantry provides the UWM community with access to food and key necessities in a welcoming and educational space. The pantry is available for all students to visit and pick up food (no cost) once per week. In addition, on the first Thursday of every month the Fresh Picks Mobile Market visits UWM, and they offer fresh produce, meat, and dairy items at a discount (they accept debit cards, credit cards, and Quest EBT).

    Women’s Resources

    Women’s Resource Center

    uwm.edu/womensresourcecenter

    The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) is an open and safe space that focuses on empowering women, ending gender violence, and establishing gender equity.

    Accessibility and Disability Resources

    Accessibility Resource Center

    uwm.edu/arc

    The Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee provides equal access for students with disabilities to the University’s academic, social, cultural, and recreational programs.

    International Education Resources

    Center for International Education

    uwm.edu/cie

    The Center for International Education (CIE) at UWM is a comprehensive unit committed to developing, promoting, and implementing international education initiatives for students, faculty and staff, and our community. Services and programs that are available include immigration advising, international admissions, study abroad, institute of world affairs, global studies, and partnerships.

    Student Support

    Dean of Students

    uwm.edu/deanofstudents

    The Dean of Students Office provides services designed to enhance students’ academic and personal success. All students (graduate, undergraduate, non-degree seeking) can come to the Dean of Students Office to seek help resolving problems and to seek support in times of crisis.

    Human Resources

    Human Resources

    uwm.edu/hr

    The Human Resources center at UWM provides support and services in the areas of employment and compliance services.