GTA: Roles and Responsibilities

A graduate teaching assistant, also known as a GTA, is a graduate student who provides assistance to a professor with various teaching activities at a college or university.  The individual is generally an actively enrolled student, providing such services to help fund their education. Graduate students have to meet specific requirements before being able to accept the appointment.               

At Missouri S&T, the prospective GTA must meet the following requirements:
         1. be enrolled in a related academic program   
         2. be nominated by the department for the GTA appointment
         3. attend a GTA workshop

College and university classes can be huge, which can make this position quite demanding. For this reason, an individual seeking to become a teaching assistant should be people-oriented, good with giving instructions, and proficient with time management. Typically, a graduate teaching assistant should be prepared to assume all roles of the active professor, should they be needed in the professor's absence. Thus, the tasks of a teaching assistant can be very extensive. Typical responsibilities may include assisting the professor by administering tests, grading homework and examinations, lecturing, and leading discussion sessions. Most assistants will also provide tutoring. A teaching assistant may be required to hold office hours to meet with students if the professor is unavailable.   

Being a graduate teaching assistant can undoubtedly be a rewarding experience. Aside from monetary gain, students wishing to pursue teaching careers may take this position to gain instructional experience in an academic environment. A position such as this can be particularly beneficial for someone seeking to sharpen their teaching skills for a future career.

Every department has different duties, roles, and expectations for their GTAs.  Be sure to check with your department on what they need from you.