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How Can I Help You?

The teaching assistant is a vital position in any Penn State course–they have the all-important but never-heralded task of writing exams, grading papers, and sending out information to their students.

When something goes wrong in the grade book or feedback on assignments is slow to get back to students, the TA catches the heat.

I understand that the sheer volume of tests and papers makes life difficult, but from my experience, there is no excuse for failing to understand and execute the simple tasks a TA needs to perform.

If a student is expected to complete and submit all of his or her work done in any given week on top of extra-curriculars, then a TA should be held to the same standards, if not higher.

When a student fails to complete a responsibility he or she is usually the only one affected. When a TA fails to do so, it is not just to his or her detriment, but also the student’s.

All of that aside, I have found that TAs must be more responsive and provide better information.  It is, after all, your job to do so.  When a student emails a TA for help, that student should not receive an annoyed response.  You signed up for this position; do your job.

Office hours should not be the only time you provide assistance.  If I email you for a simple 7 digit code (which I had to do this week), and your response is, “Come to my office hours and I can help you,” there’s a problem.

Wouldn’t it be more convenient for the both of us if you just simply email me the information? 7 digits. It’s not asking much.

Now, I am not saying that a TA’s job is easy, or that they are all incapable of doing what they’re supposed to.  I have many friends who are TAs and are great ones at that, but in my experience the overwhelming majority of TAs are too preoccupied with their independent studies and what-have-you that they miss the small things students rely on.

So let’s hear your best (or worst) TA experiences, or feel free to tell me I’m wrong.

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