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.

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Teaching Assistants