2.8 Guidelines for Undergraduate Pedagogy Courses (for Undergraduate Teaching Assistants)

Some academic units may wish to allow undergraduate students to serve as “teacher-scholars” or teaching assistants in undergraduate courses. COCI recognizes that with the appropriate structure and supervision, pedagogical training and limited augmented teaching support opportunities for undergraduate students can be a significant enhancement to the learning experience (both for the student teaching assistants and for their target clienteles). At the same time, there is potential for abuse, for example, if such undergraduate teaching assistant roles overlap with or replace functions of either the instructor of record or of graduate student instructors (GSIs), or if the arrangements for undergraduate assistant roles blur the distinction between the awarding of academic credit for academic work on the one hand and compensation for labor on the other. In short, the role of the teaching assistant can become clouded with the role of the instructor or Graduate Student Assistant (GSI).

To preempt such negative outcomes, COCI’s evaluation of course proposals involving undergraduates in such supporting roles (referred to in the following as “undergraduate teaching assistants,” as distinct from official undergraduate student instructor titles) should bear in mind the following guidelines: 

  • The course proposal must provide clear delineation of the roles to be performed by undergraduate teaching assistants and the specific expectations they are to meet, including both a complete breakdown of the types of activity and the weekly workloads involved for each activity, as well as whether and how academic credit is to be awarded for this work.
  • The course proposal must clearly differentiate the roles of undergraduate teaching assistants from those of the instructor of record and of GSI’s, as well as from official paid undergraduate student instructor titles. Graduate Division’s GSI, GSR, Reader, and Tutor Employment Guide (http://grad.berkeley.edu/financial/graduate-student-employment/guide/)  provides an overview of the instructional roles and duties covered by collective bargaining agreements.
  • Proposals must make clear what criteria (e.g., academic preparation, career level) are to be applied in selecting undergraduate teaching assistants, and what selection process will be used to assign them to a service course.

 Academic units wishing to implement instructional programs involving undergraduate teaching assistants must also have a course on record specifically oriented towards pedagogy training for these roles. Course proposals envisioning the use of undergraduate teaching assistants should make clear which pedagogical training course(s) these students will be enrolling in. Course proposals for these pedagogy courses themselves must include, along with other standard content for course syllabi (e.g., course overview, weekly class schedule, course reading list, grading requirements, final assessment), a clear account of arrangements in the following areas:

1. What concepts, theories, and skills students will be expected to master.

2. What projects, research, or other academic assignments the undergraduate teaching assistants will undertake to materialize these pedagogical concepts.

3. How the use of undergraduate teaching assistants serves the academic unit’s overall instructional mission, and which currently approved courses the teaching assistants will serve in.