Undergraduate Teaching Assistants
Overview and Introduction: The WHAT and WHO
Undergraduate Teaching Assistants (UGTAs) are successful engineering students who serve as a resource to students and faculty by assisting with the facilitation of active learning techniques. UGTAs can spend approximately five hours per week in the classroom serving as teaching assistants.
UGTAs are a critical part of the “Fulton Difference” experience so students have a variety of resources to enhance their success in the classroom. UGTAs help students navigate the institution, promote self-confidence and self-reliance, act as role models who demonstrate personal and academic success, and offer academic support and guidance to their peers in the classroom.
Here is the link to request a UGTA for your course. There is also an accompanying faculty training video that includes 1) an overview of the UGTA program, 2) explanation of student eligibility, 3) UGTA recruitment and request process, 4) UGTA responsibilities, and 5) faculty responsibilities. The recruitment and request process includes more information on requesting UGTAs for a course.
Who are the UGTAs?
UGTAs are current sophomore, junior, or senior level engineering students who are in good academic standing, hold no Academic Integrity Policy violations, and have completed their assigned course with a grade of “B” or higher and must be available during your class time. UGTAs will be enrolled and complete FSE201 (1 credit; online) to complement their UGTA experience that includes 8 required assignments and trainings, along with 4 self-selected assignments that interest them to create the most value.
Who are ASU 101 Section Leaders?
Closely connected to the UGTA program, Section Leaders (SL) work specifically for ASU 101 courses to support faculty and students. SL have many of the same requirements and expectations as UGTAs – attend class sessions, assist with active learning techniques, complete FSE201. The difference of the SL role is the time commitment (2.5 per week) and more engaged peer-to-peer mentoring of first year students. Section Leaders are usually expected to assist first year students with understanding the transition to college and help explore the opportunities and benefits of the Fulton schools.
Who are the faculty who lead UGTAs?
The UGTA and ASU 101 Section Leader program aims to place a UGTA or Section Leader in every section of introduction to engineering courses (ASU 101, FSE 100, and EGR 101) as well as some content courses to assist faculty members with exploratory and collaborative learning activities. Instructors who teach these courses and instructors who want to incorporate these types of activities would benefit from the UGTA program.
Implementation and Timing: The WHEN, WHERE, and HOW
Faculty submit their request for UGTAs towards the end of the semester once the faculty request portal is available. Note that there are deadlines announced at the end of every semester for the subsequent semester’s UGTA requests. Faculty can either request a specific student per individual course sections, or can put in a request for a random student to be placed, subject to applicant availability. Faculty are in charge of recruiting their own potential UGTAs from current student pools or networking.
Faculty can request one UGTA per 40 students enrolled, exceptions can be made if approved by the ASA department. The UGTA will be assigned for the entire session, and is required to work 5 hours per week. The student should not be working as a UGTA until they have received an official offer letter from the Academic & Student Affairs UGTA office.
Faculty are required to meet with the UGTA at both the beginning and end of the session to complete an initial agreement of responsibilities and a final performance evaluation of the UGTA. Meetings with the UGTAs are highly encouraged throughout the semester to engage and mentor the student on academic development activities.
UGTAs are hired for both Tempe, Poly, and ASUOnline courses. UGTAs hired for on-campus courses are meant to be used in person during the class time with limited virtual uses.
Your UGTA is approved – now what?
As this is meant to be a mentorship program, faculty should meet with their assigned UGTA to review expected responsibilities in the course, plan activities and number of hours dedicated to those activities every week, discuss potential self-selected assignments and how that may value a course, and schedule the UGTA-Faculty Year-End Evaluation. This planning is an important step for faculty to complete with their UGTA to ensure a successful semester and experience.
Active learning instructional strategies are an excellent use of UGTAs – please see our Active Learning: Overview and Introduction Quick-Reference Guide for more information on this approach. A few ideas below:
- Muddiest Points
- Customer Role Play
- Flipped Classrooms
- Exam Review Sessions
- Campus/Lab tours
Note that UGTAs are not meant to have the following responsibilities: homework support, grading, teaching class by themselves with no instructor present, course preparation.
The UGTA program is truly meant as a mentorship program between you and your assigned UGTA. This opportunity is a chance for high achieving students to learn about academia as a profession and build relationships with engineering faculty members.
Rationale and Research: The WHY
There are many benefits of the UGTA program for the students participating, as well as the faculty who lead them. Those benefits include improving classroom student learning outcomes and leverage UGTA to implement active learning strategies for classes or labs that are otherwise difficult with one instructor. The program also helps to develop, improve, and build UGTA communication and leadership skills and help the UGTA earn valuable resume and classroom facilitation experience. UGTAs foster working relationships with students.
Additional Resources and References
Interested in learning more? Here are additional readings on Fulton Undergraduate Teaching Assistants and links to articles referenced in this document.