Brandeis International Business School

Everything you need to know about being a teaching assistant

Learn more about the responsibilities and expectations of TAs at Brandeis International Business School

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Many Brandeis International Business School classes have teaching assistants (TAs). TAs are chosen among the student body to assist both the professor and his/her fellow students. So what exactly do TAs do? How do they get the job? And most importantly, why do they take on the job?

Pencil holder and alarm clock on desk with background reading teaching assistant job description

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Let’s dive into what TAs do
1. Keep track of attendance and participation 

One of the universal responsibilities of a teaching assistant is keeping a record of class attendance and participation. While the professor and students are busy debating a case or a problem, the TA must make sure the contributions of all students are noted. This is important because both of these factors can be taken into account in determining final grades. It is why TAs must also attend every class.

2. Office hours 

Teaching assistants are allowed and encouraged to have office hours devoted to helping students understand concepts they might be struggling with, or gain further understanding of the class material. This assistance can consist of doing additional problem sets or patiently clarifying a homework question without giving away the answers to the student. In my own experience as a student and a TA, I can say that TAs are as devoted as the professor to the success of each student.

3. Homework grading

Teaching assistants may be responsible for grading homework and quizzes, depending on the class and the professor.

4. Answering students emails 

Students have the option to email teaching assistants with questions. These emails are frequently answered by the TA within 24 hours.

How do TAs get the job?

The most important condition of being a teaching assistant is to have taken the class in a previous semester. This is why International Business School students are not allowed to be TAs during their first academic semester. 

Another necessary requirement is good performance in the class. A prospective TA must demonstrate a good grasp of the material, as well as the ability to help other students and contribute positively to the class. Maintaining a good relationship with the professor is also important.

Behind every great teacher is a great teaching assistant sign

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My Personal Experience

I have been a teaching assistant for two classes: Intermediate Financial Accounting and Global Dexterity.

For one of these positions, I was asked directly by the professor if I would be interested in being a TA. I accepted because I wanted to dig deeper and gain more knowledge, and I knew explaining the material to other students would inevitably help me better understand the material myself.

For the second position, I enjoyed the class so much that I  asked the professor if he would consider my application for the TA position.

Even though the subjects covered in these two classes are very different, I enjoyed the TA experience for both. It was also a great opportunity to get to know the professors and their students.

Impact of COVID-19

With the COVID-19 pandemic and remote classes, professors and teaching assistants have adapted to the virtual world.

TAs attend classes remotely, keep track of class attendance and note participation. We’ve also replaced our office hours with virtual Zoom office hours, and double-down on email communications. While the overall function of a TA has not changed much during the pandemic, the experience has certainly been different. Overall these are still very fulfilling parts of my business school experience!

Student Insights features blog posts and videos produced by current students and recent graduates of Brandeis International Business School. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here belong solely to the author.

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