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UC Santa Barbara
Department of Geography
UC Santa Barbara
Department of Geography

UC Santa Barbara Geography / Graduates / Student Handbook

In this chapter:

» Appendix A: Roles and Responsibilities for Geography Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Supervising Faculty Members

The purposes of the following guidelines for Teaching Assistants (the term "Teaching Assistant," as used in this document, represents collectively all teaching apprentice positions, including Teaching Assistants, Associates, and Teaching Fellows) and supervising faculty are:

  • To maintain a high quality of teaching in undergraduate courses
  • To clarify the mutual responsibilities and obligations of the professor and the TA
  • Through apprenticeship, to train graduate students to be educators

University policy specifies the roles and responsibilities of apprentice personnel. Three principles help clarify these roles and responsibilities:

  1. The Teaching Assistant is a ‘student teacher' selected for his/her scholarship and promise as a teacher. He/she serves an apprenticeship under the active tutelage and supervision of regular faculty members who are responsible for curriculum and instruction in the University.
  2. TAs are not to be given sole responsibility for the instructional content of any course, for examinations, for determining the term grade for students, for instructing the entire enrollment of a course, nor for the entire instruction of an individual or group of students enrolled in any University course.
  3. In order to ascertain the quality of each student teacher's performance in the full range of his/her assignments, and to require improvement when necessary, the faculty member who is responsible for the instruction and grading of students is expected to consult regularly with his/her student assistant(s) and to visit any course-related recitation and/or laboratory sections to which he/she (they) are assigned.

TA assignments are expected to involve an appropriate range of supportive activities, which may include:

  • Assisting the faculty member in the preparation of course materials
  • Teaching in laboratory or discussion sections for the faculty member in charge of the course to which he/she is assigned
  • Attending the faculty member's lectures or other instruction periods
  • Reading and grading student papers and examinations
  • Assisting with evaluation of students' performance and assignment of grades
  • Advising students during office hours

The guidelines for TAs and faculty members in the Department of Geography are based on the following assumptions:

  1. The quality of the undergraduate's education is best served when Teaching Assistants and faculty members work cooperatively and effectively together. Thus, it is the mutual responsibility of the TA and the faculty member to communicate questions and problems to each other regarding teaching materials, techniques, assignments, examinations, students' response, and other related factors that affect the fulfillment of their separate duties.
  2. The concept of apprenticeship means that the faculty member provides "active tutelage" to TAs to help them improve their teaching skills. This must include the communication about content or subject matter of the course and evaluation of and advice about teaching effectiveness. Such feedback must ensure that undergraduates receive instruction of satisfactory quality, and could involve the faculty member's direct observation of the TA in section, discussion of students' written or oral evaluations of the TA, and a review of a TA's videotaped presentations in section. Advance notice should be given before classroom observation.
  3. Effective teaching by Teaching Assistants demands credibility in their roles as teachers. Thus, observations and evaluations of TAs by faculty members must not jeopardize the TAs' rapport with their students. Evaluations and comments must take place later in confidence.

Guidelines

  1. Meetings

    Weekly meetings between the faculty member and the course's Teaching Assistants should be held and should include a review of the upcoming section assignment. These meetings should be scheduled soon enough to allow TAs to prepare for the section and exams. Schedules and due dates should be discussed between faculty and TAs well in advance. The supervising faculty member should inform the TAs about the topics of upcoming lectures so that they can properly prepare for sections and students' questions.

  2. Preparation for sections

    The supervising faculty member should ensure that the TAs are provided with enough information about the upcoming section assignment that they are confident and secure about their presentation. The faculty member should make the TAs aware of the services available from the University (e.g., free slide duplication for slides used in courses) and share these resources with the TAs.

  3. Examinations and grading

    The faculty member should provide keys to his/her exams, detailed breakdowns for the assignment of points, and guidelines for grading. This will help ensure that the professor's emphases and not those of individual TAs are reflected in the grading, and will contribute to the maintenance of uniformity among the different graders. It will also help TAs to handle effectively complaints about grading. TAs may be asked to evaluate the quality of the exam before it is given and to identify misleading or confusing questions.

  4. Responsibility for assignment of grades

    The supervising faculty member is responsible for instruction and grading in all University courses, including discussion or laboratory sections that accompany lecture courses. Thus, although the TA may write all or portions of the discussion or laboratory section assignments, quizzes, or examinations, the supervising faculty member must check the TAs' efforts throughout the quarter to maintain academic standards and provide necessary feedback.

  5. Academic Dishonesty

    If the TA discovers instances of academic dishonesty for which he/she feels sanctions are justified, the TA must bring the case to the attention of the supervising professor.

  6. Coordinating TAs

    While experienced Teaching Assistants may function as valuable resources for other TAs in a course, and may be assigned special duties, the apprenticeship of all TAs is with the supervising faculty member and not with the more experienced TAs. This does not preclude an organizational structure involving a coordinating or "senior" TA in courses with multiple TAs.

  7. Lectures by TAs

    The opportunity to give an occasional course lecture may be a welcomed culminating experience for an experienced Teaching Assistant. Such lecturing should be limited in occurrence and carried out under the supervision and guidance of the faculty member. TAs should not be expected to lecture just to substitute for an absent faculty member.

  8. Workload

    Assignment of a TA to more than one section of the same course is preferred to splitting a TA's duties between two courses. A half-time TA's appointment specifies a 20-hour per week commitment. This time includes lecture attendance, weekly meetings, and teaching of discussion or laboratory sections, office hours, grading, and preparation of instructional materials. If these duties consistently require more than 20 hours per week (or 10 hours per week for a quarter-time TA), the supervising faculty member must choose among the options for the use of a TA's time and relieve the TA of some duties.

  9. Evaluation of TAs

    TA evaluation should be an ongoing process throughout the quarter, culminating with written end-of-quarter student reviews. Sources of feedback during the quarter for the TA should include gathering comments from the course instructor and students, as a continuing process of refining teaching skills. The TA should be provided with comments from the instructor after a classroom visitation. The videotaping of discussion/lab sections and the follow-up consultation with an instructional development staff member is another course for examining teaching strengths and weaknesses. First-quarter TAs should receive written mid-quarter evaluations from their students; these must be discussed with the supervising faculty member but do not become part of the TA's formal record. At the end of the quarter, the TA receives written reviews from students, copies of which are given to the TA and to the Department. Based on these evaluations, the supervising faculty member should write a short review of the performance of each TA in his/her courses.

  10. Feedback to Supervising Faculty Members

    Professors should encourage their TAs to provide their own evaluations and information about their students' perception of the quality of the lectures, audio-visual materials, assignments, discussions, readings, examinations, and any other aspect of the course.

  11. TA's Commitment

    A TA's appointment is a binding contract for the duration of the quarter. Once instruction has begun, it is unacceptable for a TA to break the contract for any reason except an extreme emergency. TAs are expected to be available throughout the quarter, including the time needed to assign grades after the final examination.

  12. Department's Commitment

    Normally, the Department of Geography awards TA positions for specified quarters during an academic year. However, promised employment for quarters later in the year may be revoked for unsatisfactory performance during an earlier quarter. Only in extreme cases of incompetence or lack of performance will a TA be dismissed during a quarter.

  13. Criteria for Selection of TAs

    Students will be considered eligible for teaching appointments based on the criteria in the APM 410 and Red Binder: registered graduate students in full-time residence; evidence of academic excellence and promise as a teacher; maintenance of a 3.0 GPA; in good academic standing; making normative progress to degree; enrolled in at least 8 units; experience and excellence for specific titles. TA positions are usually distributed among first-, second-, and third-year graduate students, and are occasionally assigned to more senior graduate students. When possible, supporting first-year students by other means than TA positions gives them time to become more familiar with the Department and with the discipline. When they then become TAs as second- or third-year graduate students, they are usually more effective and bring more knowledge to the undergraduates.

    To the extent possible, TAs will be assigned assistantships in courses related to their previous and professional training. Two criteria are used to select TAs: academic excellence and potential as a teacher. If the graduate student has had prior teaching experience, evaluation of teaching ability is based on written comments by supervising faculty members and students. Otherwise, evaluation of teaching potential is based on letters of recommendation supporting the student's application to the Department.

  14. Social Relationships with Students

    The University does not tolerate sexual harassment, and TAs who subject students to unwanted attention of a sexual nature can expect sanctions. TAs must treat all students fairly and equally, and therefore should avoid personal relationships with students who are currently enrolled in their sections.

  15. TA Training

    All Teaching Assistants new to the Geography Department at UCSB are required to enroll in Geography 500, the TA training course, during or before their first quarter as a TA. All first-quarter TAs must be videotaped in section, and they must then review the tape with a trained consultant from Learning Resources. To the extent possible, TAs should repeat this videotaping experience every quarter to continue to improve their teaching. Instructional Development provides professional consultation and resources on instructional design, delivery, and evaluation, and it also provides workshops, institutes, and forums throughout the year.

Resolution of Problems
If problems arise about the roles or responsibilities of supervising faculty and TAs, the involved parties should meet with each other to discuss the problem and its resolution. These discussions might involve the TA's Faculty Advisor. If these meetings do not resolve the problem, the TA or supervising faculty member should attempt to resolve the problem through consultation with the Department Chair, who has the responsibility to resolve matters regarding Department personnel.

» Appendix B: Suggested Reading for PhD Exams

To prepare for PhD written exams, each student should seek advice from members of their PhD Committee. It is recognized that suggested readings in preparation for the exam will be made up primarily of material that is related to the primary systematic and/or technical area of focus of the student.

  1. Abler, R., Marcus, M. G., & Olson, J. M. (Eds.). (1992). Geography's Inner Worlds: Pervasive Themes in Contemporary American Geography. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
  2. Agnew, J., Livingston, D., & Rogers, A. (Eds.). (1996). Human Geography: An Essential Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
  3. Bailey, T. C., & Gatrell, A. C. (1995). Interactive Spatial Data Analysis. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.
  4. Bohren, C. F. (1987). Clouds in a Glass of Beer: Simple Experiments in Atmospheric Physics. New York: Wiley.
  5. Brown, J. H. (1995). Macroecology. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  6. Clarke, K. C. (1995). Analytical and Computer Cartography. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  7. Cronon, W. (1991). Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. New York: W. W. Norton.
  8. Cushman-Roisin, B. (1994). Introduction to Geophysical Fluid Dynamics. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  9. Dingman, L. S. (1994). Physical Hydrology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  10. Gaile, G. L., & Willmott, C. J. (1989). Geography in America. Columbus, OH: Merrill Publishing Company.
  11. Gill, A.E. (1982), Atmosphere-ocean dynamics, Academic Press, New York..
  12. Hanson, S. (1997). Ten Geographic Ideas That Changed the World. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
  13. Hartmann, D. L. (1994). Global Physical Climatology. San Diego: Academic Press.
  14. Haynes, K. E., Button, K. J., & Nijkamp, P. (Eds.). (1996). Regional Dynamics: Modern Classics in Regional Science. Cheltenham and Northampton, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  15. Holton, J.R. (1992), An introduction to dynamic meteorology, Academic Press, San Diego.
  16. Houghton, J. T., Jenkins, G. J., & Ephraums, J. J. (Eds.). (1990). Climate Change. The IPCC Scientific Assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  17. Houghton, J. T., Meira Filho, L. G., Callender, B. A., Harris, N., Kattenberg, & Maskell, K. (Eds.). (1995). Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group I to the Second Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  18. Johnston, R.J. (1997) Geography and Geographers: Anglo-American Human Geography Since 1945. London & New York: Edward Arnold.
  19. Johnston, R. J., D., G., & Smith, D. M. (1986). The Dictionary of Human Geography - Second Edition. Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell Ltd.
  20. Knauss, J. (1997). Introduction to Physical Oceanography (2nd Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  21. Livingstone, D. N. (1992). The Geographical Tradition: Episodes in the History of a Contested Discipline. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
  22. Longley, P., Brooks, S., MacMillan, B. & McDonnell, R. (1999). Geocomputation: A Primer, London: J. Wiley.
  23. MacArthur, R. H. & Dakota, E. O. (1967). The Theory of Island Biogeography. Princeton Monographs in Population Biology 1. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  24. Martin, G. J. & James, P. E. (Eds.) (1993). All Possible Worlds: A History of Geographical Ideas. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  25. Myers, A. A. & Giller, P. S. (1988). Analytical Biogeography. London: Chapman and Hall.
  26. National Research Council (1997). Rediscovering Geography. Washington DC: National Academy Press.
  27. Philander, S. G. (1998). Is the Temperature Rising? The Uncertain Science of Global Warming. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  28. Pond, S., & Pickard, G. L. (1983), Introductory Dynamical Oceanography, 2nd edition. New York: Pergamon.
  29. Unwin, T. (1992). The Place of Geography. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

» Appendix C: General Departmental Policies for Graduate Students

There are some general Department of Geography policies that you should be aware of. If you have any questions about any of them, please ask in the office - we're glad to assist you.

  1. Copiers
    The department copiers can be found in 1829 Ellison Hall. Copier codes are issued only to employed graduate students for instructional (e.g., Teaching Assistant, Reader, Associate) or grant-related (e.g., Graduate Student Researcher, Postgraduate Researcher) copying. If you are employed on a research grant, please contact Geography Research or the P.I. in charge of the grant to find out if there is a copier code assigned to that account. Personal copying is not allowed. All personal copying should be done on the copiers available in the Library. If the copier isn't operating properly, or is giving a message that isn't clear to you, or indicates that there is a problem, please inform the office staff so that we can assist in correcting the problem or call for repair, if necessary.
  2. Office Space
    While the department has no obligation to provide space for graduate students who are not employed as Teaching Assistants, Associates, or Graduate Student Researchers/Post-graduate Researchers, we always try to provide at least some space for all graduate students. Graduate student priority ranking for the assignment of space also takes into account class level in this order: PhD students advanced to candidacy, PhD students, and Master's students. Campus and department policy dictates to a very large extent the priorities for the allocation of space to persons associated with departments. These priorities are:
    1. Faculty
    2. Support staff
    3. Temporary faculty (Lecturers)
    4. Associates, Teaching Assistants, and UCSB fellowship holders (Regents Special Fellowship/ Doctoral Scholars Fellowship/President's Predoctoral Fellowship)
    5. Graduate Student Researchers/Post-graduate Researchers

    To as large an extent as possible, GSRs & PGRs should be housed in research units.

    Stewardship of Space
    Each person who is assigned space is responsible for maintaining the room in a professional manner. If you would like to clean your desk, shelves, or file cabinets, you can request to borrow green cleaning products from the administrative office. We want to be able to maintain excellent indoor air quality, so please be sure to use only the recommended products when spiffing up your office!

  3. Keys
    All graduate students are eligible, upon request, for keys to their assigned office and Ellison Hall exterior doors. Requests for any other keys require special permission. All faculty and graduate student offices are considered private. Requests should not be made for keys to these offices unless there is a real emergency. All keys must be turned in to Bernadette Weinberg before final degree completion.
  4. Mail/Packages
    Mail is delivered to the office daily in the afternoon (approximately 1:45p) and is sorted into assigned mailboxes in the office. Incoming mail should be limited to official university business. Do not use this address for personal mail, especially for magazines, etc. University policy clearly states, "Outgoing personal mail should not be deposited with official University mail." For your convenience, there are a number of U.S. postal deposit boxes located around campus. If you are leaving campus (temporarily or permanently), please keep in mind that the Post Office will not forward mail that is addressed to the University. Submitting a "Change of Address" postcard to the U.S. Post Office for a University address will not work. You need to take steps to change your mailing address well in advance, because the department does not have the manpower or the financial resources to forward mail. Making arrangements for your mail after you leave is your responsibility, not that of the department.
  5. Telephone Use
    Long distance calls must either: a) be charged to a grant, b) paid for by the student personally using a calling card, or c) made on your home or cell phone. Correspondence with faculty off campus should be by email or regular mail if the student does not wish to pay for the call or if she/he is not working on a grant that will pay for the call. The main Geography Department office phone should NOT be used as a message phone unless it is an emergency.
  6. Supplies
    Only office supplies used for your teaching responsibilities will be provided by the department. GSRs hired on grants should obtain their supplies through the office responsible for handling the grant. TA's printing or copying more than 20 pages per student in a quarter are required to use a reader rather than handouts. Graduate students who are not employed by the department nor employed on any research grants are expected to pay for their own supplies (this includes copying, transparencies, envelopes, paper, etc).
  7. Recycling
    There are clusters of recycle bins for plastic, aluminum, glass, and office pack located on each floor of Ellison Hall (each container is clearly marked). Please be sure to deposit your recyclables in the appropriate container each day. The blue bin in your office is for office pack only and, when full, has to be carried to the large receptacle in one of these locations. The custodial crew only picks up the trash from the office on a regular basis, so we need your help to be sure we are capturing the office pack appropriately for recycling.

» Appendix D: Things To Do Before Leaving the Department

  1. Make sure that all Graduate Division paperwork has been completed.
  2. File a copy of your thesis or dissertation with the Department.
  3. If you are willing to make a PDF of your thesis/dissertation available on the Geography web site, leave a PDF with the Graduate Program Assistant and sign the permission form.
  4. Return your keys to our Academic Personnel Analyst, Bernadette Weinberg.
  5. Talk to Dylan Parenti re your email and UNIX accounts, lab keys, computer data, etc.
  6. Leave a contact address if you'd like to keep in touch!
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