Teaching Assistants (TA)

[Message from the Director, Center for Teaching and Learning]

Around the year 1958 or even earlier, ICU became one of the first academic institutions in Japan to have a Teaching Assistant (TA) system. Today, TAs are an indispensable part of liberal arts education at ICU. While the name teaching "assistant" may lead you to think of TAs as mere class "helpers,” and indeed, TAs do assist in a number of ways, including undertaking some administrative work necessary for smooth class operation, we consider them as educators and guides for our undergraduate students’ learning. 
 
If the relationship between an instructor and a student were to be represented by a vertical straight line, then a TA would be positioned somewhere on a straight line that extends diagonally upward from the student. We expect TAs to understand the students' perspective and to be a trusted resource for the students, while at the same time collaborating with the instructor to create a great course and a great learning environment for the students taking it. 
 
We want this experience to be educational for TAs as well. Thus, we would like them to prepare for the first class by asking themselves the following questions:
  • If you were teaching the class, what content would you want to provide to students?
  • How would you want to teach the content?
  • How much time would you allocate to class discussion?
  • What sort of technology would you use?
 
We also encourage TAs to express their opinions freely to the faculty. Faculty naturally fall into habits when teaching the same class for many years. Fresh perspectives and suggestions from TAs help faculty, students and the TAs themselves to grow. 
 

[Our TA System]

The new TA System was introduced in AY 2020. We, the CTL, played a crucial role in its development. The key features are as follows:
 
  • ICU hires ICU graduate students as TAs, a type of part-time educational staff. TAs are to assist with educational duties for undergraduate education; this thus serves as a training opportunity for graduate students who wish to become future educators or researchers. At the same time, the system also aims to enrich and maintain ICU’s meticulous undergraduate education.
  • An ICU 4th-year undergraduate student may be hired at faculty’s discretion if certain requirements are met; however, 4th-year undergraduate TAs may not perform exam- or grade-related tasks.
 
TAs are categorized into three types when they are hired. The main duties of each type are described below.
  • Apprentice Type・・・The TA’s major agrees with the course instructor’s major and the TA performs specialized and highly skilled duties under the guidance of the course instructor.
    • Assisting in design of course, revision and syllabus creation
    • Supporting group discussion
    • Helping address students' questions
    • Holding tutorial sessions after class
    • Making quizzes
    • Assisting in grading objective assignments and grade management
    • Giving presentations on one’s own research as part of the class
  • Assistant Type・・・The TA’s major does not have to agree with the course instructor’s major. The TA attends all classes and helps facilitate the smooth running of the class.
    • Assisting in preparation and maintenance of e-learning tools such as course Moodle pages
    • Operating IT/AV equipment
    • Checking attendance
  • Tutor Type・・・The TA’s major agrees with the course instructor’s major.
    • Supporting group discussion
    • Helping address students' questions
    • Operating IT/AV equipment
    • Providing support mainly outside of class through tutorials, office hours, and supplementary lessons. 

 

[CTL’s Roles and Responsibilities for the TA System]

We support TAs who are hired under the TA System to enable them to perform their duties smoothly.
  • Conducting orientation for newly hired TAs (once a year)
  • Conducting workshops for TAs (once a year) — an opportunity to brush up skills and get to know and exchange ideas with fellow TAs.
  • Administering and analyzing TA Activity Reports (three times a year) 
  • Acting as a point of contact for TAs (throughout the year)
  • Conducting TA Seminars for faculty members (once a year)
  • Managing the TA System and Guidelines
  • Managing the TA Job Descriptions that instructors create for each course
 
If you would like to find out more about our TA System, please visit our internal page.
(Access is limited to our faculty and staff members, part-time lecturers and TAs. Please log in with your ICU Net ID.)
 
TA Screenshot - コピー.png

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