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TA/GA Information

Ordinarily, only admitted doctoral students in the Graduate Program in Mathematics will be eligible for an appointment as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Graduate Assistant (GA) in Mathematics.

For students not currently at Rutgers, admission and initial support decisions are made on the basis of course work at other institutions, general and subject GRE's, letters of recommendation, and personal statements. Other relevant information may also be considered. Students whose native language is not English must supply evidence of competence in written and spoken English. The duties of an initial appointment as a TA may only be grading.

Criteria for an initial appointment as a TA or GA for students at Rutgers combine admissions information together with appropriate parts of the reappointment standards discussed below.

I. Initial appointment Ordinarily, only admitted doctoral students in the Graduate Program in Mathematics will be eligible for an appointment as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Graduate Assistant (GA) in Mathematics.

For students not currently at Rutgers, admission and initial support decisions are made on the basis of course work at other institutions, general and subject GRE's, letters of recommendation, and personal statements. Other relevant information may also be considered. Students whose native language is not English must supply evidence of competence in written and spoken English. The duties of an initial appointment as a TA may only be grading.

Criteria for an initial appointment as a TA or GA for students at Rutgers combine admissions information together with appropriate parts of the reappointment standards discussed below.

II. Reappointment

Candidates for reappointment are judged on a combination of instructional competence (for TA's) and scholarly progress (for both TA's and GA's). Reappointment is always subject to availability of funds. Ph.D. students students who have completed four or fewer years of the graduate study in mathematics and have demonstrated satifactory instructional competence and scholarly progress will normally be be reappointed as TAs or GAs (subject to availability of positions). Ph.D. students who have been students for five years will normally be placed on the waiting list for support, and will be considered for support based on the following priority for support: (i) number of years in the program (with students having fewer years in the program having higher priority), (ii) assessments (by faculty) of the student's progress and prospects for finishing in the coming year, (iii) past performance as a TA. Students who have completed six years in the program are generally not eligible for reappointment as a TA.

A. Instructional competence

Students whose native language is not English may need proof of competence in English at an appropriate level. Such competence is ordinarily assessed by the Rutgers ESL program. Reappointment as a TA generally requires work as a classroom instructor. Such appointments cannot be made until ESL has certified that the candidate possesses adequate competence in oral English (both speaking and understanding the spoken language). In some cases ESL will grant provisional certification conditioned on continuing work in their courses.

An initial appointment involving work as a classroom instructor must be preceded by successful completion of the Department's TA Training Program, or by equivalent training and adequate performance elsewhere.

Adequate current performance in either grading or teaching assignments is required for reappointment. The duties of a recitation instructor are given in the guide for recitation instructors . Assessment of the TAs performance of these duties will be based on reports from the TA's supervisor (usually the course instructor), the end of semester survey of the students, observations of the TA by faculty, and any additional information about the performance that is available to the faculty members who are performing the assessment of TA performance.

Students requesting support past their fifth year as a Ph.D. student are held to a higher standard of instructional competence than are students in their first five years of studies

B. Scholarly progress

Year 1
Satisfactory progress for a student completing their first year: This includes good performance in courses based on grades and faculty recommendations (grades less than B are poor, and normally grades of B+ or A are satisfactory). If most of a student's work is in advanced courses which offer only pro forma grades, additional criteria may be used -- for example, certification by faculty members of active and satisfactory participation in these courses. Students who have not taken and passed the written comprehensive exam during their first year of study here should show signs that they are preparing to take it by the beginning of the second year. Students may be put on the waiting list for support, subject to future assessment and possible denial of support, if their performance up to the time of initial support decisions falls well below expectations.

Year 2
Satisfactory progress for students completing their second year: This includes doing well in courses (grades less than B are poor, and generally grades of B+ or A are satisfactory) and having passed the written qualifying exam. If most of a student's work is in advanced courses or rotations which offer only pro forma grades, additional criteria may be used -- for example, certification by faculty members of active and satisfactory participation in these courses. Students who have not already taken and passed the oral exam should be taking steps to form their oral exam committee. Students may be put on the waiting list for support, subject to future assessment and possible denial of support, if their performance up to the time of initial support decisions falls well below expectations.

Year 3
Satisfactory progress for students completing their third year of studies: The primary behchmark is satisfactory completion of the oral qualifying exam. It is recommended that students complete the exam by the end of the first semester of their third year. Students who have not completed the qualifying exam by March of their third year may not receive support for a fourth year. A necessary condition for such students student to be granted support for the fourth year is to submit a plan for completing the exam to the graduate program director, and have the plan approved. Students completing their third year are expected to have begun working with a research advisor.

Year 4 and beyond
Satsifactory progress for students completing their fourth year:

All such students should have advanced to candidacy, and will be placed on the waiting list if they have not advanced to candidacy.

Beyond that, satisfactory progress means both having a research advisor and making progress on their thesis. The primary assessment of satisfactory progress comes from the thesis advisor. Our program is designed so that a student can normally complete their Ph.D. within five years, though we do recognize that there are legitimate reasons that a student may require six or even seven years to complete their degree. A student who has not completed a Ph.D. after seven years of study is normally considered not to be making satisfactory progress and is therefore normally ineligible for TA support. Ordinarily we hope to extend TA support to students making satisfactory progress at least through the end of five years of study here. Beyond that we will consider each student individually and may need to put some students on the waiting list for support, with the eventual support decision to be based on resources available.

C. Satisfactory course load

There is a distinction to be made between what the Math Department expects students to take in order to maintain "satisfactory progress" towards the degree and the legal notion (for US VISA purposes only) of "full-time status.

Students in the first three years of graduate school are expected to be taking 9 credits per semester of coursework/research in addition to a 6-credit Assistantship (Teaching or other) - for a total of 15 credits per semester.
For students who are past their oral quals, and admitted for candidacy, "making satisfactory progress" is measured differently. Students who have passed the orals so quickly that they haven't yet accumulated 48 course credits should talk to the Graduate Director. Other students, who have a good idea of when they will graduate, can adjust their research credits accordingly; a lower limit may be reasonable.

 


TA Training Seminar

Satisfactory completion of the teacher training seminar during the Spring semester of the first year. While not required for the Ph.D., it is required for appointment to a TA position after the first year of studies.

The mathematics graduate program offers a TA training seminar every spring semester. This seminar involves about 8 hours of participation from the student, and normally ends with the student conducting a practice recitation section which is videotaped and critiqued by an experienced teacher.

Normally every first year Ph.D. student participates in this seminar. Participation in this seminar is required in order to be supported as a TA after the first year.

Graduate students in other graduate programs in the mathematical sciences may participate. The mathematics department sometimes employs teaching assistants from other departments, or hires students to work as Visiting Part-time lectures. Successful participation in the training program may be required as a condition of such employment.

Signups and scheduling of the seminar are held sometime between mid-November and mid-January; contact the graduate program secretary for details.

The TA training coordinator for 2007-2017 has been Professor Terry Butler.


Building Your Teaching Skills and Credentials

Effective teaching and communication plays an increasingly important part of the mathematical profession. For students who are aiming at an academic career, your potential as a teacher is likely to play a substantial (and often primary) role in the way you are evaluated for academic positions.

The Professional Development Coordinator (currently Professor Chris Woodward) is responsible for helping graduate students develop their teaching qualifications, and for arranging the teaching letter that is usually part of the application portfolio. The department maintains a teaching record for each graduate student which provides the bulk of the information for the Professional Development Coordinator to write the teaching letter. Please provide in your request for a teaching letter a list of your teaching experiences and other educational involvement, together with a list of those faculty who have observed your teaching and a list of deadlines. Please allow at least three weeks for any letter to be written.

The mathematics graduate program offers a T.A. training seminar, which is required for all students who are or will be supported as teaching assistants.

Teaching assistantships are the primary (but not the only) means for getting teaching experience during your time as a student. academic year often involve teaching. Most teaching assistantships in the mathematics department involve teaching calculus recitations, but experienced TAs can request to teach their own section of a course. Qualified students also have the opportunity to teach their own courses during the summer. T.A. and summer teaching assignments are handled by the undergraduate office.

The TA Project offers a series of workshops designed to help TAs develop their teaching skills and improve their marketability. Students who attend at least four sessions of a particular series will be eligible to receive a certificate indicating their commitment to teaching. There are other opportunities for becoming involved in mathematics education: participation in REU programs, and educational fellowship programs such as Metromath Center Graduate Fellowships and Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education

All graduate student TAs should be observed in the classroom at least once each term (preferably early) by the instructor or another faculty member. The visitor should provide constructive feedback to the TA, and also write a report for the student's teaching record. While the undergraduate office attempts to ensure that all TAs are observed, you may have to be proactive and ask your instructor yourself. If for some reason the instructor cannot visit your class, contact the Professional Development Coordinator, who will arrange for someone else to visit.

If you have the opportunity to teach a summer course, you should similarly request that you be observed, to get feedback on your teaching and so that the report can be added to your record.

Some resources for teaching fellow include: A guide for teaching fellows, Teaching First: A Guide for New Mathematicians, by Thomas W. Rishel. Project Next is a professional development program for new or recent Ph.D.s in the mathematical sciences.

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Department of Mathematics

Department of Mathematics
Rutgers University
Hill Center - Busch Campus
110 Frelinghuysen Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854-8019, USA

Phone: +1.848.445.2390
Fax: +1.732.445.5530