☜ Appendix V: Graduate Appeals Policy

Admission Policies
Requirements for the Degree:
I. Time Limits for Degrees
II. Supervisory Committee
III. Required Courses
IV. Teaching Requirement
V. Program of Studies
VI. MS Prospectus
VII. PhD Proposal
VIII. Graduate Examinations
IX. Timetable
Annual Reviews
Financial Support
I: Residency
II: Student Travel
III: Dual Compensation
IV: English Competency
V: Graduate Appeals Policy
VI: Teaching Assistants Manual
VII: Neuroscience Program
Detailed Contents

APPENDIX VI: Teaching Assistants (TA) Manual

The opportunity to teach is one of the great joys of academic life. Nothing is more rewarding than being able to share your knowledge with others and help them grow in knowledge and skills. As a teaching assistant you are part of the university’s instructional staff, all of whom must work together to provide a coherent and high quality educational program for our undergraduates. The purpose of this manual is to outline the Department’s policies and guidelines for teaching assistants, and to provide logistical information that TAs need, so that the delivery of our undergraduate courses is orderly and effective. This is not intended to be a manual on how to teach. Some teaching training is provided is the Department’s annual Teaching Workshop, which is required to be taken by all new graduate students and undergraduate TAs. Additional training for teachers is available through the Teaching Enhancement Workshops of the Program in Instructional Excellence.

Admission, Support, and Category Changes

Only in exceptional cases is an unfunded student admitted to a Thesis MS or PhD graduate program in the department. Most Thesis MS and PhD students receive an initial appointment as a TA; later many students are supported with research grants as a RA. A few students switch back and forth, depending on the availability of grant funds. TAs planning to be supported by an available RAship must provide the departmental Graduate Office with a "timely notification of intent" in order to avoid depleting the teaching personnel needed by the department.

Selection of Graduate Assistants

The awarding of teaching and research assistantships is decided at the time graduate students are considered for admission. Assistantships are awarded at the request of individual faculty members with the approval from the area faculty (Cell & Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology) and the Associate Chair.

Continuing students may be reappointed on a departmental TA/RAship for the ensuing academic year if (1) so recommended by the area faculty following the Annual Review (see departmental Graduate Guide: Annual Reviews ) and approved by the Associate Chair and (2) funds are available.

Initial and continued appointment on a grant RAship is at the discretion of the principal investigator.

TA Course Assignment(s)

Teaching assignments are made by the Office of the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies. New TAs are customarily assigned to BSC 1005L, BSC 2010L, or BSC 2011L unless a particular student has the background to fill a special need in another course. Subsequent assignments are made to other courses when possible, with veteran students having priority. The primary considerations in making TA assignments are the teaching needs of the Department and the expertise and dependability of the individual graduate students. However, the wishes of the faculty and graduate students are also taken into account. Prior to the beginning of each semester the Graduate Office asks the graduate students which courses they would prefer to be assigned; the faculty are also asked which students they want as their TAs. Recommendations from supervisory committees are also taken into account. Every effort is made to accommodate all parties, but fluctuations in course enrollments and course offerings do not always provide that everyone can be accommodated. Assignments are made on a one-semester-at-a-time basis.

Teaching Workshop

All new Thesis MS and PhD students, and all undergraduate students who are teaching for the first time, are required to attend the Department’s Teaching Workshop. This week-long workshop is held during the week before classes each Fall semester and is coordinated by Dr. Carolyn Schultz, (850) 644-6826. The workshop provides instruction in teaching and gives critical information on University and departmental teaching policies. Under exceptional circumstances the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies may approve a student’s petition to delay taking the Teaching Workshop; however no exceptions are made to the requirement that all new graduate students and undergraduate TA take this workshop. Both Graduate and Undergraduate TAs are compensated for the time they spend at the workshop.

Duties and Responsibilities

There are varying workloads for different levels of appointment (viz., 1/4-, 1/3-, 1/2-time, etc.,). These apply to both TAs and RAs. The standard TA assignment is ½-time (which nominally means 20 hr/week). Most TAs are assigned responsibility for teaching in laboratory courses, but some TAs serve to help organize and prepare materials for large laboratory courses such as BSC 2010L (course “Honchos”), and some TAs are assigned to assist a faculty member who is teaching a large lecture course (usually the TA helps with grading and by running review/help sessions). Some opportunity for lecturing experience (under faculty supervision) is available during the summer, particularly in BSC 1005.

The standard TA assignment is responsibility for teaching 2 sections of a laboratory course that meets once a week for 3 hours. However, some courses differ in format (some lab classes meet once a week for 2 hours and some have two 3-hour class meetings each week), so TA assignments are balanced to keep the work load approximately the same for all TAs.

Specific TA duties, both in and out of class, are defined by the faculty member in charge of the course (course instructor), or by the staff member responsible for a large laboratory course (the course coordinator). Unsatisfactory performance by a TA/RA may result in forfeiture of the assistantship. In general, a TA is expected to work on course-related activities for an average of 20 hours per week, although some weeks may require more time and some less. Each TA is expected to be on campus and available to work starting one week before classes and to remain until course grades are submitted on the Tuesday after Final Exam Week or until the course instructor/coordinator indicates the TA may leave. If a TA needs to be out of town, or for other reasons cannot fulfill their teaching duties for a period of time (for example to attend a conference or because of a family emergency), then it is the TAs responsibility to inform the course instructor/coordinator as early as possible and to work with the instructor/coordinator to find a suitable replacement. The TA must also fill out the Attendance Policy for Teaching Assistants Form and submit it to the Graduate Office in advance of their trip. This requirement includes times when 2 TAs in the same course swap sections. The Department is committed to being flexible and making it possible for TAs to attend meetings and other educational programs, but the TA must realize that not all accommodations are possible. In general TAs should not expect to be able to be away from their teaching duties more than once a semester and not for more than one week at a time.

Attendance Policy for Teaching Assistants Form: (obtain here)

Emergency Situations

Any TA that finds they are unable to attend a class or get to class on time must immediately contact the faculty member in charge of the course (course instructor), or the course coordinator, so that arrangements can be made to cover the class. If the instructor/coordinator cannot be reached, then the TA should contact the departmental office (850-644-3700) and inform the office staff of their absence.

If during class a student becomes ill and needs medical assistance the TA should contact the University Police (850-644-1234) and should also inform the course instructor/coordinator of the situation. If a student becomes unmanageable and disruptive in class the TA should calmly direct the student to leave the classroom, and if the student refuses to leave then the TA should contact the University Police and have the student removed from the classroom. Such incidents should also be reported to the course instructor/coordinator.

Violations of the University’s Academic Honor Code (Cheating)

The Florida State University Academic Honor Policy defines the University’s expectations of students in terms of academic honesty and lays out the procedures that are to be followed in cases of academic dishonesty. The Academic Honor Policy is found in the FSU General Bulletin, this policy was substantially revised effective Fall semester 2005. All students and faculty are expected to be familiar with and abide by this Academic Honor Policy.

As described in the Academic Honor Code, academic dishonesty includes (but is not necessarily limited to) plagiarism (intentional copying another’s work without proper citation), cheating on exams or quizzes, unauthorized group work, fabrication or falsification of data, multiple submission of papers or reports, damaging or stealing academic materials, and complicity in academic dishonesty (one student knowingly letting another student copy from their exam).

As a TA, if you observe academic dishonesty by a student in a class under your supervision you are required to follow up on it. The first thing to do is to collect and preserve the evidence. The next step is to confer with the course instructor/coordinator, explain what happened and what evidence you have. The course instructor/coordinator will help you determine if academic dishonesty has occurred and will help you work through resolving it following the procedures laid out in the Academic Honor Policy. It is important to know that the TAs role in resolving a potential case of academic dishonesty is not done when he/she has reported the incident to the course instructor/coordinator. Since you as the TA were the primary witness of the incident you will be needed throughout the process of resolving the issues.

Departmental Policies on Interpersonal Relationships between TAs and Students and the University Policy on Sexual Harassment.

It is the policy of the Department that there should be no close interpersonal relationship between a TA and a student in the section(s) of the course they are teaching. You not only must not date your students, but you should not have as a student a relative or in-law or someone with whom you formerly had a close interpersonal relationship. If you find you are assigned to a class in which there is a student with whom you have a relationship, you should inform the course instructor/coordinator and discuss what changes could be made to resolve the problem. The purpose of this policy is to make sure that all students in a class have, and feel they have, fair and equal treatment by their TA.

The University has a very explicit policy regarding sexual harassment and how sexual harassment should be handled. In part the University defines sexual harassment as: “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature directed at an employee or student by another …” It is the responsibility of each TA to read and be familiar with the University’s sexual harassment policy (see the Office of Human Resources website ). One particularly important aspect of this policy that pertains to TAs is its reporting requirement. Under the University’s policy any supervisor who has witnessed or becomes aware of an alleged occurrence of sexual harassment by, or who receives a complaint of sexual harassment involving a person within their purview is required to report the matter to the University’s Office of Audit Services. As a TA, all the students in the sections you are teaching are under your "purview", you are their supervisor in this context. If you think sexual harassment is occurring in your class, or if sexual harassment is reported to you by one of your students, you should immediately discuss the matter with the students involved and with the course instructor/coordinator; if it appears that sexual harassment has occurred then the course instructor/coordinator will be obliged to report it to the University Auditor.

☞ Appendix VII: Neuroscience Program