Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do I become a TA? Who should I talk to about TA appointments? Is TAP responsible for these appointments?
  2. At Rutgers, Teaching Assistants (TAs) are appointed by individual departments, either as part of a funding package or on a competitive, year-to-year basis. The TA Project does not administer TA appointments, nor do we have any input into the appointment process. We serve, instead, as a support organization for TAs who have already been appointed. If you have questions about becoming a TA, or about the details of your TA appointment, contact your graduate program.

    In addition, graduate students with a strong biological background may be qualified to teach General Biology. Please contact the Division of Life Sciences for more information.

    Advanced graduate students (preferably with a master's degree) may inquire about opportunities to teach in the Writing Program. Please contact the director of the English Department's Writing Program for more information.

  3. What should I do if I have not yet been assigned a specific course?
  4. Contact your graduate program. TAs are appointed by individual departments, and neither the Graduate School nor the Teaching Assistant Project (TAP) can provide you with this information.

  5. What if my students have a problem with my accent?
  6. As long as you enunciate clearly and speak slowly, students should not have difficulty understanding your speech. However, should problems persist you may contact ESL (732-445-7422) for assistance. Remember, many instructors, regardless of their language background, will often find themselves repeating things. However, if you are doing this so often that it begins to interfere with the lesson, contact ESL.

  7. I have a problem with late and/or absent students, what should I do?
  8. On your syllabus, make perfectly clear what your attendance policy will be as well as the consequences of violating it. Late students can be just as problematic as absent students, so make sure to include late arrival as part of your attendance policy. An example would be that if the student were more than 15 minutes late to class he or she would be considered absent. If students are made aware of your attendance policy at the beginning, then there will be no surprises or arguments during the semester.

  9. What counts as class disruption and how do I deal with the student responsible?
  10. A civil classroom is conducive to student expression. Classroom civility fosters an environment where students feel comfortable asking questions and proposing solutions without fear of being shouted down, made fun of, or brushed aside. On a more fundamental level, however, it has much to do with a simple, distraction-free learning atmosphere. Examples of common distractions are students talking to one another during a lecture or talking on their cell phones, texting, surfing the web, wearing headphones, eating, and so on. Such behavior, of course, is not fair to the majority of students who want to get the most out of the class. Classroom disruptions must be dealt with immediately. The easiest way to avoid conflict is to enumerate certain behavior guidelines in your syllabus, indicating what types of behavior you do not want to see in the class. When students engage in one of these behaviors, calmly but firmly remind them of your policy and ask that they stop.

    A common disruption are cell phones. They should be turned off or silenced in the classroom, and from the first day, you should make sure that your students understand this. A cell phone ringing during class is the same as a student getting up in the middle of a lecture. This would never be tolerated, so don't tolerate ringing phones.

  11. My students complain that I assign too much work. What should I do?
  12. This is a common complaint that arises in most classrooms. If you made the course requirements clear to the students at the beginning of the semester and have stuck to those requirements, then while the students may feel overburdened, they understand what workload was required of them from the beginning. If you are still unsure, talk to your faculty advisor for the class or your department chair. Students who continue to complain should be referred to their school dean's office.

  13. A student wants to take the test later/earlier than the assigned date. Is this okay?
  14. Taking an exam on the established date and time is very important, and if the student does not have an undergraduate college-approved absence, you are not obliged to change the test date for that student. Also, you are not required to give the student the same test as those who took the test on the assigned day. You need to be firm about test dates, but if you think the student's request has merit, consult the faculty member in charge of the course, or if you are teaching independently, your department chair. Students should be referred to their school dean's office.

  15. My students are asking for extra-credit. Is there such a thing and should I allow it?
  16. By no means are instructors required to give extra-credit. Should you choose to do so, make sure that all students in your course have the option available to them. Extra-credit options should be made clear on the syllabus at the beginning of the course. If the extra-credit is not part of your original course design, there must be extenuating circumstances (not just poor performance) to justify it. In all cases, consult the faculty member in charge of the course, or if you are teaching independently, your department chair.

  17. If students come to me with their personal or psychological problems, how should I respond?
  18. Many undergraduates feel more comfortable confiding in their TAs than their professors. If a student comes to you with a problem, it is important to listen to the student, but keep in mind that you are not qualified to deal with serious personal or psychological problems on your own. It is a good idea to make your faculty advisor for the class or your department chair aware of the problem. There are also many counseling services available to undergraduates at Rutgers. You may want to refer your student to the appropriate counseling center.

  19. What constitutes harassment in the classroom, and how can I avoid it?
  20. Harassment is a form of discrimination directed toward an individual or group based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, or marital or veteran status. Harassment may be physical, non-verbal or verbal, and is a serious concern. As a TA, it is your responsibility to respect the rights and dignity of all of your students equally. At the same time, the University is committed to the principles of academic freedom and believes that vigorous discussion and debate, as well as free inquiry and free expression, are integral parts of the University community. The complete policy and procedures for handling harassment may be found here.

  21. What do I do if I suspect a student of cheating?
  22. According to recent studies done at Rutgers, many students have or will engage in some form of academic dishonesty. If you suspect a student of cheating, you are required to report this to the faculty advisor for the class or your department chair. It is the policy of Rutgers University to refer all violations of academic integrity to the appropriate dean.

  23. What should be included in a syllabus?
  24. Please visit our What's in a Syllabus page for information.

  25. I'm having problems using certain software; where can I get help?
  26. The Center for Teaching Advancement and Assessment Research (CTAAR) offers workshops on computers and their applications, including: Word, Access, Excel, Powerpoint, web design, and podcasting, among others.

  27. Should I use a mid-semester evaluation?
  28. Mid-semester evaluations provide instructors with important feedback regarding their teaching. These evaluations point to areas that need improvement, as well as indicate areas that are working well.

  29. Parking and Buses
  30. Anyone that needs to park in university parking areas must obtain a permit. Information about parking permits can be obtained from the Department of Transportation Services, which is located at 55 Commercial Avenue in the Public Safety Building.

    The Rutgers-New Brunswick/Piscataway inter-campus bus and shuttle system is a service provided for all five campuses. It is available to all members of the university community. Bus schedules are available here.

  31. ID Cards
  32. An RUconnection ID card can be issued to you anytime after your appointment start date, with proper documentation and registration, just visit the RUconnection Card office.

    Please bring a form of government issued photo identification, such as a driver's license or passport, and any documentation as noted below. A paycheck stub is only valid with a second form of ID.

  33. I'm not a Rutgers student, but I'd like to teach at the school—is it possible for me to be a TA?
  34. TAs at Rutgers are generally graduate students appointed by the department to which they belong. If you are not a Rutgers graduate student but would like to teach at the school, occasional PTL (part-time lecturer) and adjunct positions are available. For information, contact the specific department in which you are interested.

  35. General Information
  36. For general information about Rutgers University, call 732-932-INFO (4636), Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. 8:30 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. during the academic year. The RU Info website also contains student services information.