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Almost all our Ph.D. students are employed as Teaching Assistants (TAs) during some Fall and Spring and semesters.  Some students are also employed as TAs for one or more Summers.  The section on Financial Support contains information about how TA employment is determined; this section describes the role of TAs.

Teaching undergraduates is a central part of UT’s mission.  In 1997, the Texas State Legislature passed a law which requires the University of Texas to offer admission to the top 10% of students in every Texas high school class, irrespective of SAT scores, AP qualifications, etc.  As the state’s population has grown, the law has been adjusted.  Currently, UT Austin admits the top 6% of each class, and this mechanism accounts for 75% of the undergraduate student population.  Our studentship therefore comprises students with high academic potential from every corner of the state and from a wide variety of socio-economic and demographic backgrounds.

Thousands of students take Mathematics classes offered by the department every year.  Some arrive with advanced mathematical training acquired at specialist high schools; many more arrive from high schools that offered limited opportunities for mathematical training.  Our task as educators—instructors and TAs—is to help as many as possible to realize their potential.  UT has a multiplicity of programs aimed specifically at doing so; the work of the Dana Center gives a nationally recognized example, see https://www.utdanacenter.org/.

 

1.   Mathematics TAs

TAs play a vital role in the running of mathematics courses, from introductory calculus through to advanced undergraduate courses and the graduate Prelim courses.   We expect you to approach your work as a TA responsibly and with dedication.  We highly urge you to approach your work with passion:  you will then find your work rewarding, and your enthusiasm will be reciprocated in students’ appreciation on your efforts.  For those planning academic careers, working as a TA is an important part of your training as a teacher of mathematics.  

You will need, however, strike a balance between time spend on TA work, coursework and research activities.  Our TA policies are designed to facilitate this.

Cash prizes are awarded annually for outstanding TA work.

 

2.   Training

In your first semester at UT, or, at latest, in the first semester of TA employment, you must enroll in course 398T, Supervised Teaching of Mathematics, which provides training for your work as a TA.

 

3.   Appointment

Most TA appointments are for 20 hours per week. In some cases, more than one course is assigned, and the 20-hour appointment is split equally between them.  Each course will involve recurring duties assigned by the instructor in line with the guideline document. The recurring duties should account for around two-thirds of the appointment time. The remaining time is reserved for occasional and incidental duties.

Students who have concerns about their TA duties—for example, students who believe they are being asked by the instructor to expend more time than expected—should bring their concerns to the Graduate Advisor.  Likewise, instructors who have concerns about the work of their TA report them to the Graduate Advisor.  

The Graduate Advisor has supervisory responsibility over TAs for Mathematics courses. 

 

4.   Duties

TA duties vary from course to course, but there are detailed descriptions here

In some courses, such as the M408C-D Calculus sequence, and M408J Differential Equations and Linear Algebra, the TA’s most important responsibility is conducting discussion sessions with the students.  Typically, the class is divided into two sections, and each section meets the TA twice a week.

In certain calculus classes you will assist students in flipped classrooms.   For some classes, such as M340L Linear Algebra and Matrix Theory, M365C Real Analysis, and the graduate prelim courses, the TA’s main duties are grading homework and holding office hours.

Committed TAs will find opportunities to work with faculty who are noted leaders in inclusive mathematics education, on innovative teaching projects, and in classes based on Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL).

 

5.   Title IX and reporting

The university’s Title IX office handles reports of sexual assault, interpersonal violence (including domestic and dating violence), stalking, sexual harassment, and sex discrimination.  

If you are a victim of such an action you are encouraged to report it to the Title IX office but are not obliged to do so.   

As a TA, you are considered a responsible UT employee, and therefore a mandatory Title IX reporter. That means that you must promptly report any violations of which you become aware while acting within the scope of your duties as an employee, including incidents that are reported to you by students in your class.  Failure to do so is an offense under Texas criminal law and is contrary to strict university policy.

Further details can be found on the webpage of the Title IX office at https://titleix.utexas.edu

Reports can be filed with the Title IX Coordinator, via email at titleix@austin.utexas.edu  via mail at 1616 Guadalupe, suite 2.507, mail stop D9200, 78701, or by calling 512-232-3992, regardless of whether the person reporting is the person alleged to be subject to the complained-of behavior.  Also, any person may report incidents anonymously via an online reporting form.

 

6.   International TAs

To be appointed a TA, you must be fluent in English: this is a requirement of Texas state law.  It is demonstrated by international students by passing an oral English assessment exam administered by the University (see https://global.utexas.edu/english-language-center/resources/international-teaching-assistants); there are exemptions for those with high TOEFL or IELTS scores and for those from English-speaking countries.

International students are required by the UT Board of Regents to have medical insurance.  For this reason, ISSS at Texas Global automatically enrolls international students in their insurance plan upon registration and the fee is added to your tuition bill.  However, as a TA you are eligible to receive insurance benefits, and therefore you may request a waiver of their insurance by visiting their insurance waiver website.

 

7.  Other teaching opportunities

There are a number of opportunities for optional teaching at UT:

  • The Directed Reading Program pairs undergraduates with Ph.D. students in reading courses. The Ph.D. students receive a stipend for their work.

  • The Sanger Learning Center employs Mathematics Ph.D. students to lead calculus reviews and refreshers.

  • PhD Students with extensive TA experience and an outstanding track-record are occasionally appointed as Assistant Instructors (AIs): they are then the instructor for a course.

  • The Dana Center has opportunities for students passionate about mathematics education and equity.

  • The Sunday Morning Math Group is an outreach program targeting local middle school students. Leading this program is a TA appointment; volunteers assist at events.

  • An outreach program targeting underserved and vulnerable populations in local middle and high schools is under development by Mathematics Ph.D. students.

There are also opportunities outside UT; for instance, a few of our students volunteer at the Texas Prison Education Initiative.