I’m a TA who is assigned to help grade papers for an upper level course. In the first assignment, I realized that I do not know how to do one of the assigned problems. The professor has requested that I grade all of the assigned problems. I don’t think I will get a grading rubric (showing the answers to the assigned problems). I’m extremely nervous since I don’t know how to do all of the problems on my own.

Should I ask professor directly about the problem in his office hours? The alternative would be to look at all of the solutions submitted by the students and analyze which answers are correct.

PTA – Postgraduate Teaching Assistant

Because I love information (I’m at university, right?), I was looking through some manifestos of my department, and came across a proposal to allow PTAs to mark exam scripts. I can’t remember the resulting vote (but if anyone wishes, I can look it up), but I got me thinking along the lines of “should they really be allowed”? At my university, every exam paper is written by whichever lecturer teaches us that module/part of the module, so it is down to their bias of what questions they want to put in there (which is then of course checked by some staff), and they are the ones who will know exactly what is the right and wrong answer.

However, having PTAs mark exam scripts could lead to some inconsistencies when marking scripts (even more apparent with group assignments), as they may be more lenient than the exam setter (lecturer), and some can be more harsh, even with the mark scheme provided. It may well be the case that the lecturer verifies every single exam script to see that they marked it correctly, but even then they may miss some markings here and there, and may just be too busy to even verify them.

What are the pros and cons behind this scheme? Is it unfair for the students?

I am a TA for an undergraduate class, and I have the following situation:

Usually, I give my (one-hour) lectures (which consists of solving exercises and reviewing theory as needed) at Thursdays 12 p.m., but this week they have the midterm right at this time, so I decided to move this week’s lecture to Tuesday (today) to help the students. The professor is aware of this and saw no problem, although it might be relevant to say that I had no obligation to do so: I could say “there’s no lecture this week” and be done with it. Instead, I said that this lecture would be at the same time, 12 p.m., but I mistakingly wrote 1 p.m. at the webpage of the course. When a student emailed me yesterday asking for confirmation, I hastily confirmed the 1 p.m. mistake, only to realize the screw up.

To minimize the harm, I decided to show up at 12 p.m. and give a two-hour lecture. I put a follow-up message on the webpage informing that I would be there earlier, and sent an email to that student (I do not have everyone’s email address). A lot of people showed up at 12, asked their questions, then a lot more people appeared at 1, visibly upset, and asked their questions. All in all, in the end, it seemed that everyone had their questions addressed, so I won’t lose any sleep over this.

I would like to know, though, if I could have dealt with the situation better. Or if there is a standard strategy for dealing with this kind of mistake (certainly I’m not the first nor will be the last TA to do this).

Today I had two students never working on their assignment but looking at their phones the whole class. I did not warn them that I will collect their work but I told them to put their phones away. After that I told the students to turn their work in even though it wasn’t the due date. I am planning to put their grade into the gradebook. Am I allowed to do this?

I have been admitted into a college in the US for a master’s program. I am applying for TA positions under various professors because TAs get tuition benefits.

One of the professors who taught me as an undergrad (Prof. X) knows a professor in the department where I will be studying (Prof. Y). How do I ask Prof. X to recommend me to Prof. Y?

I am currently correcting assignments (pass/fail) for a Bachelor’s course in which I am a TA. Students write some code and then discuss their results and approach in a report (in groups of two). My task is to “review a report and provide feedback for students how to improve their report” then they do a supplementation and pass.

The task/content is the same for all students so I will naturally encounter similar results.

While writing feedback I’ve noticed that I was pointing out exactly the same mistakes in two reports (including the same typos in equations). Upon closer inspection I realized both groups provide the same results and (more importantly) fail to provide results in the same area, i.e. the program should be run with different parameters, both groups only run one (and the same) set of parameters.

Both reports follow the same structure with small permutations, e.g. renaming sections or rephrasing of sentences and make the same “meta” mistakes like discussing their results in the conclusion.

However, looking at the code it looks like two different implementations (i.e. they seem to be using their respective code).

My initial response was to escalate this to the professor in charge and let him deal with it, but then I realized that I might be too pedantic, which I sometimes am. (My impression is that any of the other TAs would just shrug it off as “odd”, but not do anything further.)


One of the groups has already caused trouble for another reason, so I don’t want to “accidentally” escalate the overall situation.

I guess my question is how to apply the ethical guidelines of “propper scientific conduct” in this gray(ish) area, given that it is some “unimportant” assignment (of many) for a Bachelor’s degree course. Should the needle tip towards “turn a blind eye” or towards “no exceptions”.