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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato
Communication Studies

GTA Handbook

Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/cmst/faculty/gta-handbook.html
  1. Rights, Responsibilities, and Review of Graduate Teaching Assistants
  2. Teaching Assignment
  3. Class Roster/Class Overload Policies
  4. Syllabus Construction
  5. Office Hours/Outside of Class Student Contact
  6. Additional Instructor Responsibilities
  7. Record Keeping
  8. Grading
  9. Course Materials
  10. Examinations
  11. Student Welfare
  12. Office of Disability Services
  13. The Learning Center
  14. Evaluation of Instruction
  15. Confidential TA Files
  16. Student Problems: Conflict
  17. Student Problems: Academic Dishonesty
  18. GTA Training and Development
  19. GTA Teaching/Behavior Policy
  20. Consensual Relationships with Students
  21. Summer Teaching Policy
  22. Graduate Assistants' Office: Policies and Procedures for Armstrong Hall 206B
  23. TA Absence Form ([DOC] MS Word (25 KiB); [PDF] PDF (8 KiB))
  24. End Note
  25. Acknowledgment Form
  1. Rights, Responsibilities, and Review of Graduate Teaching Assistants

    Teaching Assistant Duties
    The position of Graduate Teaching Assistant includes the following responsibilities:

    • Teaching SPEE 100, 101 or 102
    • Assisting at all locally-held speech tournaments
    • Holding office hours
    • Attending all TA training sessions
    • Serving as a substitute for other TAs or faculty members
    • Assisting with other departmental functions
    • Any additional duties assigned by the Department Chair

    All TAs are receiving extra pay for extra duties. Some TAs are serving as forensics coaches for their extra pay. All other TAs will serve as research assistants for their extra pay.

    The position of Graduate Teaching Assistant includes the following rights:

    • Access to educational materials
    • Access to faculty assistance
    • Treatment as a professional
    • Respect by other departmental members

    Graduate Assistant Duties
    The position of Graduate Assistant-Technology includes the following responsibilities:

    • Maintain and update all departmental computers
    • Train all teaching faculty in technology
    • Complete technology-assisted projects
    • Any additional duties assigned by the Department Chair

    The position of Graduate Assistant-Technology includes the following rights:

    • Access to needed equipment
    • Access to faculty assistance
    • Treatment as a professional
    • Respect by other departmental members

    Research Assistant Duties
    The position of Research Assistant includes the following responsibilities:

    • Help faculty prepare and carry out disciplinary-related research
    • Any additional duties assigned by the Department Chair

    The position of Research Assistant includes the following rights:

    • Access to needed equipment
    • Access to faculty assistance
    • Treatment as a professional
    • Respect by other departmental members
    • No non-research activities

    Orientation, Training and Review
    Pre-service: Prior to the start of the semester, all first-year teaching assistants are provided with a free copy of the course textbook and a free copy of the Teacher's Manual for the course. These texts are mailed or delivered to first year GTAs early in the summer prior to their first semester of teaching, allowing them ample time to become familiar with the material.

    All first-year GTAs then take part in an intensive 30-hour training session. This session takes place before the start of classes. GTAs are trained in the creation of syllabi, classroom activities, evaluation and assessment, teaching methods, learning styles, classroom management, and educational technology. All GTAs do a sample teaching lesson, and are evaluated by peers and the course instructor. For more detail, please find a copy of the course syllabus for this workshop.

    In-service: During the first semester of their assistantship, all GTAs take part in a weekly seminar devoted to teaching and learning needs. The seminar meets once a week for one hour. Seminars focus on particular learning and teaching needs, discussions of common problems and concerns, and the sharing of successes and useful activities. In addition, all GTAs take part in online continuing education through a Ucompass course. All first-year GTAs are observed in the classroom by the Director of Teaching Assistants, and are evaluated by students at mid-semester and end of the semester. The Director of Teaching Assistants and the Chair of the Department review all student evaluations of GTAs.

    Research and Graduate Assistants: The department rarely employs research or graduate assistants. When these positions are filled, the graduate students in these positions are welcome to attend all TA training sessions. In addition, students in these positions are provided with a description of the requirements for each position.

    Performance Review: The graduate faculty meets annually to review the performance of all graduate students, including graduate assistants. In addition to reviewing the academic performance of the graduate students, all teaching assistants are reviewed according to the stated requirements for the position. The Basic Course Director/Director of Teaching Assistants takes the lead in this review, as this position is responsible for the training and day-to-day evaluation of teaching assistants. All other assistants are reviewed by the graduate faculty as a whole.

  2. Teaching Assignment
    • SPEE 100: Fundamentals of Speech Communication is a general education requirement at MSU. As a graduate teaching assistant for the 100 course, you will be teaching one or two recitation sections of the course. The Basic Course Director teaches three large-lecture sections of the basic course (two sections on Monday morning and one section on Tuesday morning) which consists of 1/3rd of the time students spend in the 100 course. As a recitation instructor, you independently teach the other 2/3rds of the course. The recitation sections are similar to a "lab" where students practice the theory provided in the large lecture. As the instructor of the recitation section, you will grade speeches, give additional assignments as they relate to your section, help students prepare for the midterm and final exam, and provide additional instruction that supplements the large-lecture course.
       
    • You will be assigned one or two sections of SPEE 100: Fundamentals of Speech Communication, for which you will have classroom and grading responsibilities. During our orientation process you will be given the following information:

      • The section number of each class you are teaching
      • The days and times the class meet (e.g. T/H; 9-9:50)
      • The day and time of your students' assigned lecture session
         
    • All recitation sections are assigned classrooms in the Performing Arts Building. When you have the opportunity, go the classroom and check the facility (become familiar with your surroundings), make sure that you are familiar with the multimedia instructional equipment provided in the room. If you find that you have concerns with your classroom (e.g. not wheelchair accessible), please inform the Basic Course Director as soon as possible.

    Second and third year GTAs may be assigned SPEE 101: Interpersonal Communication or SPEE 102: Public Speaking, depending on demand for 101 and 102 courses.

    Note: Assignments of TAs to 100, 101, or 102 section(s) is the responsibility of the Director of the Basic Course and the Department chair.

  3. Class Roster/Class Overload Policies
    • A class roster will be distributed to your campus mailbox during the first week of class; however, students may add and drop your class throughout the first week. Since you can count on your enrollment numbers fluctuating until the second week of the semester, have students sign a roll sheet. SPEE 100 has an automatic enrollment cap of 30 students.
    • Many students will ask you if you will sign a "blue card" (which permits the registration folks to override the 30 student maximum). GTAs are not authorized to sign blue cards or any other form of registration request. The only individual who can override the registration cap is the Basic Course Director. In other words, do not sign any piece of paper related to registration.
    • Department Administrative Drop Policy. The following is the Administrative Drop Policy found on the Department of Communication Studies' website:

    This applies to Speech 100, 101 and 102 ONLY!

    "Students who do not attend class the first meeting of a once a week class or do not attend by the first meeting time of a class that meets more than once a week during the first week of classes will be dropped by the Friday of the first week of classes.
    If you are not able to attend the first class session as listed above and do not wish to be dropped, you will need to submit a WRITTEN REQUEST to the Department PRIOR to the first day of the course. You may submit the request by regular mail at: Administrative Drop, Department of Communication Studies, /AH 230, MSU, Mankato, MN 56001."

  4. Syllabus Construction
    • You will distribute a syllabus the first day of class. This syllabus serves as an instructional contract with your students; make sure they understand that the syllabus is a contract between you and your students. Since we offer 25 sections of SPEE 100 each semester, it is crucial we standardize major assignments and expectations. You received a standardized syllabus that forms the foundation of your own class syllabus.
       
    • During orientation you will work in conjunction with the Basic Course Director and your colleagues to construct your individual syllabus; you will need to add such elements as assignment schedule, specific assignment descriptions, and additional policies, contact information, and so forth. Make sure, however, everything on the standard department syllabus is included on your own. Please wait until orientation to construct your syllabus; ample time will be given you to do so. Once you have augmented the standardized syllabus, give it to the Basic Course Director for review and approval. Once you have a final draft of your syllabus, give the Basic Course Director a copy of your syllabus for your file. The department secretary must receive a copy of your syllabus before the semester begins.
  5. Office Hours/Outside of Class Student Contact
    • You will establish and keep regular office hours. Two hours per week per section taught is the minimum required amount of office hours for our GTAs. Try to schedule times that won't conflict with most students' courses (in other words, vary the time and day of your office hours), and stress to your students they should make appointments with you if they can't make your posted hours. Remind them when you are available for individual consultation, and no matter how great the temptation to skip them, ALWAYS show up for your appointed hours.
       
    • You should meet with your students on course-related business only in your office space, or appropriate on-campus locations (e.g., a conference room reserved for more privacy). Do not meet with student in less formal locations (e.g. your apartment, their apartment, local taverns) when you are conducting course-related meetings. This behavior constitutes a problem related to power differential, harassment, and question of judgment that likely would not make you or the student comfortable.
       
    • In addition to your office hours, you must provide students with an e-mail address where you can be reached. You must use the FREE university account that is automatically set up for you when you enroll as a graduate student.
  6. Additional Instructor Responsibilities
    • You are expected to make every effort to get to your class early in order to set an example for your students, and be able to begin instruction promptly. If you are habitually late, your students will follow your lead. Let your students know how you want to plan for the unlikely event of your tardy arrival to class. You might suggest, for example, that if in the unlikely event you will be late for class, the class should continue the discussion from the preceding class, or start a round of impromptu speeches, etc.
       
    • TAs are not allowed to cancel classes. The Basic Course Director may cancel the class if no substitute can be found, but TAs do not have the authority to cancel a class. It is your responsibility to find another teaching assistant to cover your class. If you find that you will be missing a class, you must first tell the Basic Course Director, Kristen Treinen at 389-2213 or 389-5533 (If this is an emergency — you find yourself ill just a few hours before teaching, first find a substitute to teach your class). Next, it is your responsibility to find a substitute TA to cover your class. You should also notify the Department Secretary, Kathy Steiner at 389-2213 of your absence. Finally, it is your responsibility to call the Basic Course Director when you find a substitute TA to teach your class.
       
    • You are required to manage your instructional time so students are in your classroom for the entire allotted time period. You should prepare yourself adequately in order to utilize the entire time period of your class. Don't get into the habit of letting class out early. You are getting paid to teach for the entire class period and they are paying tuition, so make sure you give them their money's worth!
       
    • You are required to attend one lecture hall section per week. You must show up early and be prepared to help the Basic Course Director as necessary. You must also be present during the midterm examination periods, and you must attend the final exam periods. This will be discussed in further detail during orientation and throughout the year.
       
    • Mentoring [2] : First and second year TAs will be involved in peer mentoring. These mentoring relationships will be set up by the Director of the Basic Course during the summer orientation. The responsibilities of the peer mentors/mentees include:

      • Interpersonal Dimension: the mentee should feel comfortable dropping by to ask questions as well as bring up concerns with the mentor. This relationship should feel "safe" for both individuals.
      • Classroom Visitations/Observations: Each member of the dyad visits the other's classroom ONCE during the semester. Visitations must occur between week 3 and week 7 of the semester.
      • Debriefings: This is a 30-minute meeting where the observer asks questions and makes comments based on what she or he noticed about the classroom teaching process. The person who was observed answers questions and provides clarification about the classroom teaching process.
      • Formative Self-Evaluations/Reflection: A 1-2 page typed self-evaluation/reflection report is completed by the observed teacher. A copy is turned into the director and a copy is retained by the writer. The report is based on the observation notes, debriefing session, and pedagogical-knowledge and experience of the writer.
      • Attendance and Participation at SPEE 603 weekly meetings: all those participating in the peer mentoring program must attend these weekly meetings. Peer mentors should try to attend weekly meetings.
      • "Micro-teaching Models" will be provided by mentor teachers during each meeting. The "models" will be based on upcoming course topics.
         
    • Forensic Tournaments
      • All Teaching Assistants in the Department of Communication Studies are required to provide assistance with all speech tournaments held on campus.
      • TAs serve as judges at tournaments. A training session will be provided to familiarize all TAs with judging protocols for the tournaments. The number of rounds, events, times, and dates are determined at the discretion of the Director of Forensics. The Department traditionally hosts two tournaments: a fall college tournament on the third weekend in October and a high-school tournament on the fourth weekend in February.
  7. Record Keeping: you will be supplied with a gradebook –guard this carefully
    • You have the option of using UCompass Educator to record your grades (or some other appropriate tool) or if you choose to use a gradebook, please include the following information:

      • Course title and section number
      • Semester
      • Students name and tech id number
      • Absences (by date)
      • A grade for each graded assignment
      • An indication of what each assignment is
      • Anything else that is used to compute a student's final grade
         
    • Prepare a grade book "Key" so you (and the Basic Course Director) will know what entries mean when they appear in your grade book. When you leave this institution, the Basic Course Director will need to retain a copy of your gradebook for the files. Students may contest grades long after their TA is away from MSU. A key that lucidly explains how a grade was calculated can save all parties involved a lot of time and worry.
       
    • Please retain all copies of student's completed exams. We may need these if a student contests or appeals his/her grade.
  8. Grading
    • All sections of SPEE 100 will be graded using a point system in which final letter grades are translated on a percentage scale (e.g., 90-100%=A; 80-89%=B; 70-79%=C; 60-69%=D; and 59-0%=F). Put this information on your syllabus. Do not change this scale during the semester. Students have the right to know from the outset what scale will be used to calculate their grade.
       
    • Incompletes: a grade of "incomplete" is only allowed under exceptional circumstances. Only the Basic Course Director is allowed to grant an incomplete. You must consult with the Basic Course Director if a student inquires about an incomplete.
       
    • Privacy laws require you do not post grades in any manner that will allow the students' grades to be identified by other persons. This also applies to grading in general. Do not let anyone see another student's grade. Do not give out any information about a student's grade to another person. You must avoid talking about your students with people other than the Basic Course Director or Department Chair.
       
    • Final grades must be calculated and turned in by the date designated by the university. You will receive a grade sheet with two sections (both sections of the grade sheet must be filled out). Fill these out according to the directions and deliver them to the Department Secretary, Kathy Steiner on the date they are due (you will be informed of this date prior to handing them in).
       
    • Do not have your students call the office staff for information related to their course grades. The staff does not have this information, and even if they did, they cannot give it out over the telephone due to Data Privacy Regulations.
       
    • Grade Appeals: The following guidelines for a student grade appeal are taken from the Department of Communication Studies' website:

    "Students have the right to ask an instructor for an explanation of any grade received. Grade appeals are reviewed in instances where students perceive that a final grade is unfair, arbitrary, or capricious. Appeals must be filled within two weeks* of university notification of a final grade. Students needing assistance at any step in appealing or filing a complaint may contact the Academic Affairs Coordinator of the Student Senate (280 Centennial Student Union; phone 389-2611). Note: Students are encouraged to talk to their instructors before beginning this process to attempt to resolve the matter informally."

    For additional information on the grade appeals process, please visit the Department of Communication Studies website.

  9. Course Materials
    • You will be provided with a copy of the textbook and course supplement that will be utilized in this course.
       
    • The course supplement will have copies of the Basic Course Director's syllabus, a grade monitoring form, speech evaluation/critique sheets, descriptions of all assignments, information on informative and persuasive speeches, example outlines and preparation outlines for the students. The course supplement will help alleviate copy cost for the Department of Communication Studies as well contribute to our consistency across all sections of the basic communication course.
       
    • Additional handouts are your responsibility to prepare and provide. All documents should be made accessible in alternate formats. The university suggests the following statement be included on documents: "This document is available in alternative format to individuals with disabilities by calling the Office of Disabilities Services 507-389-2825 (V/TTY)."
       
    • During orientation you will be informed of the procedures for getting course materials prepared and/or copied. Generally, copying requests need to be made two days prior to when you will need the material. Be sure to fill out copy request forms clearly and mark exactly what you want done. Never walk these requests to the Armstrong Hall Copy Shop. Only the Department Secretary, Kathy Steiner, will take these requests to the copy shop.
       
    • We encourage you to utilize UCompass (or the IMS we will be using) or WebPages for handouts.
  10. Examinations

    The university sets the date and time for all final exams. These dates/times are not negotiable. You must attend (at minimum) one meeting of the final exam for the SPEE 100 course. Do not make arrangements to leave town before your final examination period. Allow time in your schedule to grade the final exam and compute final grades for your students.

  11. Student Welfare
    • As an instructor, you need to exercise mature judgment regarding your students' well being.
       
    • Medical and other emergencies: Locate the nearest office in the building in which you teach before the first day of class. This way you can go there (or direct a responsible student there) in case of an emergency. Offices have telephones and personnel who can aid you in reaching appropriate agencies (e.g., the health service, ambulance, and campus police).
       
    • Psychological emergencies: Remember, you are not a trained counselor. We do have psychological counseling referral service available at MSU. Talk to the Basic Course Director as soon as possible if you believe a student may need assistance; do not try to handle the problem on your own.
       
    • Classroom safety: Don't let students bring items (e.g., controlled substances, animals, weapons, etc.) to class that could harm others. You must help your students exercise good judgment. Frequently, students may wish to bend these restrictions in order to bring in a visual aid for a speech; the restrictions nonetheless apply and they need to develop alternative visual aids.
       
    • Unpredictable weather: The University will notify all faculty and staff when and if classes will be cancelled due to inclimate weather. Please keep yourself accessible to e-mail, in case poor weather results in classes being cancelled.
  12. Office of Disability Services
    • A student may approach you on the first day of class to inform you they may need special assistance in the course. At this point, you should refer them to The Office of Disability Services located in the Memorial Library, room 116. Students do not have to inform you they need special services; however, if a student is working with Disability Services, you may receive a letter that states their needs (usually this comes to the Basic Course Director. The Basic Course Director will forward the information to you).
       
    • The Office of Disability Services ensures "equal access and opportunity for students with disabilities to programs and activities offered through MSU" (Office of Disability Services, 2002). Academic Accommodations include assistive technology devices, notetaking, sign language interpreting, alternative testing services, text-on-tape, and early registration.
       
    • The Office of Disability Services does not offer services to International Students for assistance with English as a Second Language.
  13. The Learning Center
    • The MSU Learning Center provides academic help needed to retain students at the University. The Learning Center provides tutoring, workshops, and general help with study skills.
    • If you believe a student could benefit from the Learning Center, please feel free to refer them to the Lower Level of Memorial Library, Room 0132.
  14. Evaluation of Instruction
    • All SPEE 100, 101, and 102 GTAs will administer an end-of-the-term Instructor/Course evaluation form. More information will be given on these evaluations during orientation and during the SPEE 603 weekly meetings.
       
    • Sometime during the semester, the Basic Course Director will ask to visit SPEE 100 recitation classes. These visits primarily serve as an opportunity to help you grow as teachers. They also serve a vital role in direct exposure to your teaching that can be discussed when writing recommendations for future employment.
       
    • It is suggested, but not required, that all GTAs conduct a midterm course evaluation for each of their sections of SPEE 100,101, and 102. More information will be given on this process in a workshop during the fall semester.
       
    • All GTAs may request additional classroom observations from the Basic Course Director or other faculty member in the Department of Communication Studies.
  15. Confidential TA Files
    • Each GTA will have their own file stored in the Basic Course Director's office. This file will contain copies of course materials (syllabus, calendar, exams, etc.), student course evaluations, and peer mentor evaluations, and notes based on class visits. The file serves two purposes; it offers a systematic means for each GTA to compile their teaching record and evaluations and offers the Basic Course Director easy access to these materials when necessary (e.g., a substitute needs to take your class at the last minute; a student complains a class policy was never listed on the syllabus). These confidential files are stored in the Basic Course Director's office. They are your files and you are welcome to review them at any time. Nothing will be placed in your file without your knowledge.
       
    • Occasionally problems occur in the 100 classroom that require formal intervention by the Basic Course Director. In these instances, documentation of the incident(s) and, if necessary, a letter of reprimand to the GTA will be placed on file in the Director's office. This file provides a way for the Director to systematically document problematic behaviors by a GTA or consistently unsatisfactory performance in the classroom. Information in this file may be used in the event of termination or non-continuation of the teaching contract. This private disciplinary file is not open to review by GTAs or students.
  16. Student Problems: Conflict
    • You will head off many, if not most, problems by making course rules and

      policies clear from the start and sticking to them. Our professional development workshops, SPEE 603, and mentoring program will provide new GTAs with support and resources for dealing with unexpected problems and challenges. The most important thing to remember is you have a community of colleagues, a mentor, and a Director of the Basic Course to turn to for advice and support. USE THESE RESOURCES.
       
    • Deal with conflict outside of class. Don't allow a student to put you on the

      defensive in front of other students. You need time and clear thoughts to handle conflict. Public "power plays" generally create a no-win situation for everyone.
       
    • Arrange to have another GTA (or a faculty member) in the office when you meet with a student whom you are experiencing some conflict. This may prevent the student from making any false accusations about you. You will also feel more confident regarding your own personal well-being.
       
    • If you cannot resolve a problem with a student, you and your student do have recourse. You should set up an appointment with the Basic Course Director. It is the Director's responsibility to see the basic courses are administered effectively. Resolving conflict between GTAs and student is one of her duties. If the Director cannot resolve the problem, then we continue through the lines of authority until resolution is achieved.
  17. Student Problems: Academic Dishonesty
    • Cheating may be a problem. If you have reason to suspect a student of cheating, contact the Basic Course Director. We will follow the university guidelines on all matters related to questions of academic cheating. You should be aware that the burden of proof is on you, the instructor, to produce evidence of a student's cheating. So, if you suspect cheating, document it. Make a copy of a suspected paper, exam, speech, etc. This will protect both you and the student.
       
    • The Department's plagiarism policy is as follows (as cited on the Department of Communication Studies' website): "When a student delivers a speech or turns in a paper, the student is claiming the speech or paper is an original and independent work, expressing ideas in one's own language, except where otherwise indicated by quotation marks and references. A student using the words or ideas of someone else in a paper or speech is expected to provide appropriate references. A student who fails to give credit in the form of footnotes or references is falsely representing someone else's words or ideas as their own. False representation is plagiarism.

      The most common forms of plagiarism include: copying word-for-word from a source without acknowledging the source by quotation marks and an appropriate reference for written work, and by an oral citation for presentations; paraphrasing someone else's ideas in your own words without acknowledging the source by an appropriate reference; turning in as your own work a paper or portion of a paper conceived jointly with other students but not giving credit for others' contributions. Students may not use work developed in other classes without first gaining the explicit consent from all instructors.

      Plagiarism consists of more than just copying someone else's words; representing someone else's ideas as your own is also plagiarism. Plagiarism is avoided by acknowledging the source by quotation marks if a word-for word citation, and an appropriate reference in all occasions.

      The Department of Communication Studies does not tolerate plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty. Plagiarism is one of the most serious infractions a student may commit in a Communication Studies class.

      Course instructors have the responsibility of judging whether a student has committed an act of plagiarism and what punitive action may be taken for the course. Instructors are encouraged to ask the student for an explanation of how the paper or speech was prepared and to provide such materials as sources and notes which form the basis for the paper or speech. Students are expected to comply with these requests. Instructors are not required to act as "detectives" to produce publication(s) to demonstrate an act of plagiarism.

      An instructor believing an act of plagiarism has been committed will bring the issue before the Communication Studies Department faculty and may recommend one or more of the following actions:

      1. The instructor may refuse to grade the paper/speech and record a grade of "F" for the assignment.
      2. The instructor may recommend to the department the student be dropped from the course with a grade of "F."
      3. The instructor may recommend to the department chair the student be dropped from the course with a grade of "F" and request formal disciplinary action be taken against the student, including possible dismal from the university.
  18. GTA Training and Development
    • If you are a new GTA for the Department of Communication Studies at MSU, you will continue your training in our SPEE 603: Basic Strategies weekly meetings for the duration of your teaching assistantship. Note: This is a new policy. All GTAs in their second year during the 2003-2004 academic year are expected to attend a minimum of 6 weekly meetings per semester. These meetings will be held at 11 am on Mondays of each week fall and spring semester. Please ensure that your schedule allows you to attend.
       
    • A series of professional development workshops will be offered during the school year. Topics may include (but are not limited to) dealing with plagiarism; understanding learning styles, cultural diversity in the classroom. All graduate teaching assistants are expected to attend these workshops.
       
    • A department colloquium is offered once a month with opportunities to contribute to your educational and professional development. These meetings are mandatory — all GTAs are expected to attend.
       
    • In addition to the Basic Course Director and your peers, a group of returning GTAs will be designated as Peer Mentors. These Peer Mentors will provide one-on-one support and guidance for new GTAs throughout the first semester. They will visit your classrooms and invite you to visit theirs, be available to discuss problems or suggested activities, and engage in pedagogical conversations. Peer Mentors will be selected during the orientation process.
       
    • All GTAs have the opportunity to be a representative to department committees. GTAs will/have formed their own organization that should select a representative for the following committees:
      • Long-range planning and assessment
      • Curriculum
      • Colloquium
      • Department as a whole
  19. GTA Teaching/Behavior Policy

    At times, the Director of the Basic Course will have to address a GTA with concerns about her/his teaching, and/or his/her behavior in relation to GTA responsibilities. If a concern arises, the following procedures will be utilized to address the concerns:

    • One graduate student may be selected to serve as a liaison between the GTAs and the Basic Course Director. If a GTA has a concern about another GTA's performance, please feel free to bring the concern either to the liaison or the Basic Course Director.
       
    • First Meeting: Once notified, the BCD will call a meeting with the GTA. The GTA will also be given written documentation of the meeting, and a letter will be placed in the GTA's file. Furthermore, if the repercussion is in violation of the GTA responsibilities, the GTA may face financial implications (e.g., missing lecture and/or a day of teaching).
       
    • Second Meeting: If a concern remains (after the initial meeting), a second meeting will be called with the GTA, Basic Course Director, and Department Chair.
       
    • Failure by the GTA to appropriately address and remedy the concerns may result in dismissal as a GTA.

    Adopted: February 23, 2004

  20. Consensual Relationships with Students
    Effective November 1, 2006a significant change in MnSCU Board Policy 1B1 related to nondiscrimination is in effect. The new policy continues to prohibit discrimination against individuals based on protected status (race, sex, color, creed, religion, age, national origin, disability, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, or sexual orientation). However, the policy contains a substantial change related to consensual relationships.  The new policy provides:
    " An employee of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities shall not enter into a consensual relationship with a student or an employee over whom he or she exercises direct or otherwise significant academic, administrative, supervisory, evaluative, counseling, or extracurricular authority or influence. In the event a relationship already exists, each college and university and system office shall develop a procedure to reassign evaluative authority as may be possible to avoid violations of this policy. This prohibition does not limit the right of an employee to make a recommendation on personnel matters concerning a family or household member where the right to make recommendations on such personnel matters is explicitly provided for in the applicable collective bargaining agreement or compensation plan."
  21. Summer Teaching Policy

    You may have the opportunity to teach a summer course during your stay at MSU. The following is the policy for selection of TAs to teach a summer course (as stated on the Department of Communication Studies' website):
    Summer Teaching by Non-Faculty

    1. The chair sends out a "call" to all current Teaching Assistants (TAs) requesting interest in summer teaching.
    2. All interested TAs must submit a letter of interest, current teaching evaluations, and a vita. The letter of interest should indicate any advanced education to teach the available courses (e.g., Advanced Interpersonal Communication, Advanced Public Speaking, and Communication Studies).
    3. The applicants are reviewed by the Director of Teaching Assistants. The Director of TAs sets a baseline to: (1) remove from consideration any TA who may be struggling as a classroom teacher; (2) determine TAs able to teach a summer stand-alone course. The Director of TAs is free to consult with any other faculty member in the department. The review does not establish a hierarchy of TAs to determine who is the "best" teacher, just a baseline for who shall be considered.
    4. Any forensic TAs still in consideration after the review in step 2 is completed are given first opportunity for summer teaching.
    5. If no forensic TAs are still in the pool (or more summer teaching slots are available than forensic TAs), the Department selects from non-forensic TAs.
    6. If there are more TAs than positions (in either steps 4 or 5), we use a random selection process (e.g., flip a coin, draw straws).
    7. If there are more positions than TAs interested in summer teaching, the Department may select from the current adjunct faculty pool.
  22. Graduate Assistants' Office: Policies and Procedures for Armstrong Hall 206B

    This document may be reviewed by the Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC) at any time during the academic year. Policies concerning Armstrong Hall 206B are recommended by the GAC and approved by the Director of Teaching Assistants and the Department Chair

    1. Purpose of Armstrong Hall 206B
      • Armstrong Hall 206B is the primary office space of graduate assistants in the Department of Communication Studies. This primary function shall be respected by all persons.
      • A graduate assistant or faculty member in the Communication Studies Department must be present whenever 206B is open; the room shall remain locked and empty at all other times.
    2. Office Hours
      • The occupants of Armstrong Hall 206B (206B) are responsible for posting their office hours on the office door by the end of the first week of classes each semester.
      • Employees holding office hours in 206B are responsible for holding their office hours as scheduled. However, if an emergency were to arise, employees are responsible for posting, or having a colleague post, notice of such on their office hours.
    3. Cleaning
      • The hallway between the desks should remain clear and open at all times.
      • The last person in the office each day/night should put the garbage can in the hallway so it will be emptied.
      • Individuals are responsible for maintaining a clean floor near their desks.
      • A rotating cleaning list will be made and posted by the GAC at the beginning of each academic school year. Cleaning will need to be done, at minimal, weekly and includes, but is not limited to:
        1. Wiping out the microwave and fridge and throwing away rotten contents.
        2. Dusting/picking up around computers.
        3. Emptying the recycling into the large receptacles in the main hallway on the second floor of Armstrong Hall.
    4. Desk
      • Employees of 206B and employees of 206B only, have permission to sit at the desks in 206B without supervision of another employee of 206B.
      • If the main occupant of a desk is not present in 206B, other employed occupants of 206B should feel free to use that desk.
      • Employees who share desks should determine which drawers will be used by each employee. After these guidelines are established, no one should open a drawer that is not theirs for any reason without permission.
      • Additional individual desk rules will be established on an individual basis amongst desk mates.
      • Likewise, nothing should be taken or borrowed off another desk without permission.
      • A community stapler, pair of scissors, staples, three-hole punch, pad of "important message" paper, phone book, post-it notes, paper clips, whiteout and any other office supplies located on the stand by the door of 206B may be used in 206B, so long as they are returned in a timely manner on the same day they are borrowed.
    5. Noise Level
      • Everyone using 206B must ask before playing anything out loud on a machine (e.g. computers, television).
      • Employee of 206B may request noise levels to be reduced; all requests shall be honored.
      • If a visitor is disruptive, they may be asked to leave.
    6. Computers
      • The use of computers for educational/career purposes overrides the use of computers for social/personal purposes.
      • No game playing on the computers.
      • The priority use of computers in 206B is (in descending order):
        1. Graduate Assistants in the Communication Studies Department
        2. Graduate Students (non-Graduate Assistants) in the Communication Studies
        3. Undergraduate Students in the Communication Studies Department
        4. Undergraduate Students on the Forensics Team
        5. Faculty in the Communication Studies Department
      • No personal items shall be left around computers; the area shall be kept clean.
      • Personal files shall not be stored on the computers; use floppy disks or MavDISK. Personal files may be deleted without prior notice.
      • Computers and printers in 206B should be used by department employees only, and strictly for the following:
        1. Career/education related materials (1 copy maximum).
        2. Committee materials (1 copy maximum).
        3. Personal course work (1 copy maximum).
    7. Restrictions
      • There shall be no test taking in 206-B, if need be, a student may acquire a desk from an Armstrong Hall classroom and take a test in the hallway.
      • Speeches shall not be practiced nor performed in 206B.
    8. Phone Use
      • Phone messages are to be documented on "important message paper" which can be obtained from Armstrong Hall 230 and is to be kept on the stand next to the office door of 206B. Phone messages should be placed in the recipient's mailbox.
      • Phone calls made and/or received on the 206B office phone should not exceed 10 minutes.

    *The director of teaching assistants and the department chair are contact persons for rule enforcement.

    Adopted: September 2003

  23. TA Request for Temporary Absence

    Name: ______________________________________________

    Type of Absence:

    Sick Leave
    Reason:__________________________________________Date(s):_________

    Disposition of Classes:_____________________________________________

    Personal Emergency (This may include a family emergency, death in the family, etc. A personal emergency does NOT include the following -- time conflicts with internships, off-campus jobs, or extending holiday breaks &/or conference breaks)

    Reason:__________________________________________Date(s):_________

    Disposition of Classes:_____________________________________________

    Conference/Professional Meeting (including Tournaments)

    Place of Meeting__________________________________Date(s):_________

    Disposition of Classes:_____________________________________________

    TA Signature   ____________________________________Date:___________

    Supervisor Signature:_______________________________Date:___________

    Department Chair Signature:_________________________Date:___________

    When physically possible, this form must be submitted prior to your absence.

  24. End Note

    There is more information to be covered during orientation. Work with your Basic Course Director to makes this a rich learning experience for all parties involved. Do not hesitate to contact the Basic Course Director if you have any questions about your role, rights and responsibilities as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Department of Communication Studies.
    Kristen P. Treinen
    Basic Course Director
    AH 207
    507-389-5533/507-389-2213
    kristen.treinen@mnsu.edu
     

  25. Acknowledgment Form

    Please fill out and return this acknowledgement form to Dr. Kristen Treinen, Basic Course Director.

 

[1] This handbook is adapted with permission from the Graduate Teaching Assistant Handbook (June 2000). Department of Communication Studies: Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

[2] These guidelines are adapted from Deanna Sellnow's "Peer Mentoring" responsibilities for the Department of Communication GTAs at North Dakota State University, Fargo.

Last updated: February 2004