TAs who are aware of the many resources available at Rutgers are in a good position to help their students make the most out of their years at the university; TAs who do not know where to recommend their students to go to overcome academic problems or broaden their understanding of a subject will be shortchanging them. Especially in these lean times (budgetwise), when teachers may face even larger classes than usual, such *extras* may make the difference between a student who merely takes a course and one who really gains insight into a subject.
Most TAs already know what remedial programs exist in their own department for the students (i.e., peer tutoring, formal study groups, etc). If such support does not yet exist in the department, TAs may wish to help students set up informal groups or even match up willing students as study partners, for one-on-one tutoring. All students have a right to receive at least enough support to see them through the course.
Once the students' basic academic needs are met, the TA can look beyond the classroom and the printed text to try to find other means of increasing student learning. For example, students appreciate being offered the opportunity to become 'real' scholars—to learn how to do research, to go out into the field, to seek out connections between two or three different fields—and TAs can help their students take the first steps towards realizing this goal by providing them with the inspiration and the tools to do so.
Sending students to the library to do a research paper is the most practical way to get students involved in research. It is not enough just to assign a paper, leaving the students to sink or swim. It is necessary to introduce them to the proper methods and procedures, making sure they feel at home in the library. Many TAs feel insecure about their own library-literacy and worry about passing on to their students their own unsophisticated skills; this need not be a problem, however, for the library offers many types of introductory instruction for students. Even better, TAs can take advantage of the library staff's willingness to train teachers to be competent library instructors so that they can design, plan, and carry out an effective introduction themselves.
Course goals and objectives will determine what, and how, material is presented, but imagination is also important when designing a course. Be aware of the various programs being offered throughout the university. Assigning students to participate in an on-campus event—a lecture, a concert or play, a tour or lecture at the Zimmerli Art Museum can introduce students to something entirely new or help them to see old things in a fresh way. Do not overlook the use of films and videos. A well-chosen film can supplement coursework in both the sciences and the humanities. For example, a critical examination of a science-fiction film could begin a conversation on the limits and the possibilities of science or raise important ethical issues in a way that will certainly elicit student interest and response. Arrange for screenings at a few different times so that all can participate.
The possibilities are endless for the creative teacher. Know what is available and consider ways of using these resources to help your students learn.
Your university I.D.card allows you access to all of the libraries within the university and their holdings of more than three million volumes. The system's various units (listed below) on the university's three campuses support a broad range and depth of faculty and student research in a wide array of disciplines. To search Rutgers' libraries collections, find articles, and a myriad of other services, visit the Library's website.
New Brunswick Campuses
The system's largest divisions are the Alexander Library on the College Avenue Campus and the Library of Science and Medicine on the Busch Campus, both in New Brunswick. The former houses the principal collections of research materials in the humanities and social sciences, and the latter contains the principal research collections in science, technology, psychology, medicine, engineering, and pharmacy. Most of the libraries maintain one or more reserve reading rooms. Each unit in the system is accessible to all members of the university community through an online catalog and intra-library loans. In addition to the collections internal to the Rutgers library system, members of the faculty and student body have access to other libraries through cooperative arrangements which link Rutgers to the Princeton University Library, the State Library in Trenton, and to other libraries in the region. Ask the librarian to find out if a specific library is included in this arrangement.
In addition, as a resident of New Brunswick, Piscataway, Highland Park, or any other town in the surrounding area, you can be issued a public library card for one year, renewable yearly if you continue to reside in the town. Proof of residency is required. Students should also remember that one of the great research libraries of the world, the New York Public Library, at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue, is easily accessible by train or bus from New Brunswick. TAs who are in charge of a course may wish to place materials on reserve at one of the university libraries. To do this, go to the Reserve Request webpage, click the library on the campus where your class is taught, and fill out the form.
To speed up the request you should also gather the required information together before you go to the form—it requires the date the material is assigned, the author, title, publisher, edition, call number, and location (you can copy and paste this information from IRIS). The library staff prefers that they request the materials rather than you requesting them individually and then taking them to the library. Any personal material to be placed on reserve should also be brought in at this time. It is recommended that you submit your list of reserve materials at least two months before the semester begins, that is, in early July for the fall semester and in early November for spring.
The library will also place any handouts you have on Electronic Reserve. Placing handouts on electronic reserve enables your students to access the material online. As with placing books or magazines on reserve, material should be submitted at least two months before the semester begins.
Graduate students are permitted to borrow books from the Rutgers Libraries for an entire semester. At the end of the semester, the books must be returned or renewed. If you need a book which is already out on loan, you may recall the book through the library's online service or by filling out a form at the circulation desk or requesting the book within IRIS. The book must be returned within a given time, or the borrower will be charged rather steep daily fines.
The libraries have a number of electronic information sources, including: online databases, links to online databases at other public and university libraries, Articles+, and others. It is not enough, however, for the university to have such equipment: students and faculty must be library-literate, knowing what to use for a specific project and how to use it efficiently and effectively.
TAs can arrange to have their students receive an introduction to the library, or, what can be much more useful in the long run, the library staff can teach a TA how to organize and conduct a workshop session. In either case, the tutorial will focus directly on the specific types of material that the students will need for their research projects. A teacher who is aware of the available information resources can create assignments that utilize them fully, enabling students to write papers with an increased number and improved level of sources.
To schedule a program, contact the appropriate library. For more information, visit the Library's website.
The Language Labs contain materials for all languages studied at the university. To some extent, all students in language classes are required to use these facilities, so foreign language TAs will receive information from their departments telling them about the materials available and arranging times for their orientation at the Language Lab. As the lab is an integral part of language instruction in the university, all TAs teaching a foreign language should familiarize themselves with the lab as early in the semester as possible.
Other TAs, too, should be aware of the existence of the labs and know that their services are available to anyone in the university. All students or faculty members may use the labs to improve their language skills. Along with the usual audio materials, the labs also have video and computer materials.
The Learning Resource Centers provide academic support programs for undergraduates. Among the objectives of the Centers are: to provide diagnostic services to assist students in identifying the appropriate Learning Resource Center service to meet their needs; to provide study skills assistance through individualized and small group methods; to offer additional instruction to students who need help in regular coursework through peer tutoring and supplemental instruction programs; and to refer students to other university services as appropriate. To achieve these objectives, the Learning Resource Centers offer:
Individualized learning assistance: Specialists diagnose student needs and then design individualized programs for self-improvement. One-on-one conferencing and monitoring of student development and problems are also offered.
Peer-tutoring: Tutoring is provided by undergraduates who meet stringent academic requirements. Tutoring is offered on a drop-in basis.
Supplemental instruction: Out-of-class workshops in learning how to learn are led by undergraduates identified by the faculty. These workshops are offered on a voluntary basis to enrolled students.
Study groups: In addition to providing instructors or experienced tutors for group development, the Learning Resource Centers will attempt to provide space and scheduling support to these study groups.
Computer assisted instruction: Upon faculty recommendation, instructional software that supports introductory courses will be made available to students on the Center's computers.
Writing Centers provide tutoring for students who are enrolled in Writing Program Classes (expository writing to advanced business and scientific writing classes).
The Math and Science Learning Centers provide support services to students in introductory math and science courses. Among the services offered by the Centers are: free tutors; review sessions; use of microcomputers; and access to course materials, including old texts and exams. In addition, study space is available. The Centers are meant to function not only as tutorial centers, but as central meeting places for students in mathematics and the sciences.
The Office of Information Technology (OIT) is a service unit organized to provide information technology planning services in support of the University's instructional, research, and service mission. OIT maintains a vast data network, multi-user systems and servers, web hosting, email, spam filtering, and mailing lists creation, as well as the myRutgers Portal—a personal, customizable, web-based information portal that makes campus services and information faster and easier to find and manage.
In addition, OIT also provides computer training, free/discounted software, site licenses for the Rutgers community (such as free virus protection software), courseware systems for online delivery of instruction, numerous computer labs, teaching labs, a Digital Media lab where faculty can access instructional software, and a lab with large Sun Unix servers.
The services and facilities provided by OIT are supported by the following divisions: Campus Computing Services provides primary campus computing support for faculty, students, and staff for Camden, Newark, and New Brunswick/Piscataway;
Enterprise Systems and Services is the university business unit responsible for the design, implementation, operation, maintenance, and evolution of central information technology (IT) facilities supporting the university community;
The Office of Instructional and Research Technology provides coordination for the use of information technology throughout the University in support of instruction and research.
The Media Center, located in the Douglass Library, houses the Rutgers libraries' audio and video collections. A catalog is available at the center or at it's website. The center has several screening rooms which may be reserved for group viewings. Reservations for film and video showings should be made as early in the semester as possible, even if you are planning to watch the material in the classroom.
Students, staff, and faculty may also borrow videos overnight for personal use. There is no charge, but an ID card must be left as security.
Digital Classroom Services—part of Scheduling and Space Management—maintains over 240 classrooms throughout the New Brunswick/Piscataway campuses.
Staff are available to assist you Monday through Thursday, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During the winter and summer breaks, hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Information is available online regarding equipment in the classrooms. The website also contains instructions and videos explaining the operation of the systems and equipment.
If a situation arises where you find yourself teaching in a classroom that is not fully equipped to meet your audiovisual media equipment needs, complete an online request form. You may also contact the staff with any technical questions or requests for assistance at 848-445-3612.
The English as a Second Language Program (ESL) provides special assistance to non-native speakers of English, offering small classes in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Class size is strictly controlled so students receive individual attention in improving their English language skills. Its services are available to all Rutgers students.
Newly arrived international students are screened by this program to make certain that they have achieved a level of competence in English which will allow them to perform well in their classes. Students whose language skills are found deficient must take classes until they reach the required level of proficiency.
For more information about the programs offered, contact the ESL office.
The Center for Global Services—located on the College Avenue Campus—coordinates services in New Brunswick for all international students, faculty, and staff. All international students should report to the Center as soon as possible after their arrival.
Programs have been set up by this office to orient the students to the university, the community, and American culture. For example, the International Friendship Program pairs up newly arrived international students with individuals or families from the area who will help introduce the students to New Jersey/American culture.
Many other programs of interest to the international community are coordinated by this center. In addition, the center provides information regarding legal issues, travel, employment, medical care, insurance, and other matters of concern to international students. International TAs should maintain contact with this office during their stay at Rutgers, and other TAs will want to remember this resource when working with international students.
The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum is a valuable educational resource. In addition to a fine permanent collection, the museum presents temporary exhibitions each semester.
TAs who would like to use the museum's resources but are unsure how they can integrate art into their course or uncertain about how to begin, should contact the Curator of Education, who can arrange for an introduction to the museum and its holdings.
Through its components of RU-info and RU-tv, Campus Information Service (CIS) serves as Rutgers' central source for information and referral and is a credible, accessible gateway to Rutgers and its community. RU-info's services include: the RU-info Call Center (732-445-INFO); Ask Colonel Henry (an email Q&A service); the online Calendar of Events; Off-Campus Housing Service; and online campus maps and map distribution.
In addition to offering more than 60 channels in its video network, RU-tv provides opportunities for student production, university programming, and academic support. The university community may utilize the RU-info Channel to publicize events, and departments find RU-tv's academic review sessions a helpful tool.
RU-info: 732-445-INFO (4636)
Text questions to: 732-662-2664