History Teaching Assistantships
Each year the History Department has a limited amount of funds to support research or travel to a conference to present a paper. Graduate students will receive notification at the beginning of the academic year about the deadline for applying for support. To apply, graduate students will need to explain the purpose of their travel and provide a budget or listing of expenses. They also will need a letter of support from their adviser.
The History Department has a variety of teaching opportunities for graduate students. Most common is serving as a teaching assistant (TA) during the regular academic year. Opportunities for summer teaching on the Athens campus are occasionally available for advanced graduate students. Sometimes, too, the regional campuses need a history instructor for a survey course, and an advanced Ph.D. student will fulfill their requirements. The Director of Graduate Studies, the History Department chair, and other faculty members, as appropriate, will inform qualified graduate students about these opportunities as they become available.
A teaching assistant helps a faculty member with various instructional tasks in a particular course. Serving as a TA is an important responsibility. A TA can help students learn history and develop their skills in critical analysis and in written and oral expression. TAs also may have some responsibility in evaluating student work by helping in the grading of exams, essays, quizzes, or other assignments. Students' conscientious performance of these duties can contribute significantly to the success of the course in which they are assisting. By doing their job well, students may also help interest students in taking another history course. And, of course, a TA assignment is an opportunity to develop one's skills as an instructor and gain valuable experience in the classroom.
Student responsibilities as a TA will vary from course to course. The first and most basic rule is to perform the duties that the instructor in the course assigns. Each instructor has his or her own requirements, expectations, and preferences. Students should make sure that they know exactly what the faculty member wants them to do and should complete those tasks as instructed and meet any deadlines for finishing their work.
Some TAs will teach regular discussion meetings of students. These discussion sections are required in all 1000-level introductory courses. They also may occur occasionally or even more frequently in some advanced undergraduate courses. TAs should always meet their discussion section at the scheduled time and should not cancel it or dismiss it early unless the faculty member specifically authorizes them to do so. Always meet discussion sections in the assigned room.
The instructor in the course in which a student is assisting will let him or her know about grading responsibilities. It is important to keep records of one's grading. The instructor will inform TAs of the specifics. Record keeping may be through an electronic system such as Blackboard, or it may involve recording grades on paper.
To serve as a TA, you must be an MA or Ph.D. student in the History Department. Any exceptions to this rule will be at the discretion of the chair of the History Department and the director of graduate studies. In assigning teaching, the department will take account of any TA preferences and balance them against the needs of the department for specific courses in any given semester.
All TAs have offices in Bentley Annex. TAs should schedule office hours; the instructor will provide more information. Post office hours on the door and report them to the History Department staff. Always meet students in the office.
TAs who are ill or have some other reason for not being able to attend class, lead a discussion section, or complete a task that an instructor has assigned should please inform the faculty member they are assisting as soon as possible. If they cannot meet a discussion section, they should inform the instructor in advance, unless it is impossible to do so. If they are unable to meet their TA responsibilities for an extended period—more than a couple of days—they should inform the director of graduate studies and/or graduate secretary as well as the instructor.
Making TA Assignments
The director of graduate studies in consultation with a committee assigns teaching assistants to classes shortly before the beginning of each semester. It is not possible to make these assignments until late in the preregistration period, when it is clear which courses will be large enough to require a TA. It is also not possible to assign TAs until the department has the class schedules of all TAs for the coming semester. For obvious reasons, all TAs must be assigned to classes at the same time. Changing even one TA assignment can have a ripple effect; it might require shifting several other TAs to avoid conflicts between class schedules and TA duties.
Providing a Schedule
Students who are scheduled to serve as a TA will receive an email request in the preceding semester to provide their expected class schedule. (Please note that providing their schedule does not mean that they have to register for classes any earlier than they had planned. It only means that they are informing the department of their schedule in advance.) Students should email their schedule to the the director of graduate studies at firstname.lastname@example.org. If they have a preference for a particular course or a particular assignment, please advise the director of graduate studies at that time. The director will do what is possible to accommodate requests. Assigning TAs, though, involves meshing many schedules, and it may not be possible to meet everybody’s preference each semester.
Professional Comportment and Attire
In serving as TAs, students represent the History Department and Ohio University. In carrying out their teaching responsibilities, they should make choices about their personal conduct accordingly.
Neither Ohio University nor the History Department has a dress code. Students should, however, dress in a manner appropriate to the classroom, meaning to a professional office. Casual attire is fine. But it is a good idea to avoid clothing with messages, slogans, images, or corporate logos (other than the unavoidable, obtrusive labels of clothing designers or manufacturers). Those words or images have the potential to interfere with the creation of an environment conducive to learning for students. Please also avoid clothing, buttons, pins, and the like with the names of candidates or political messages. Under no circumstances should attire have words or images that refer in any way, directly or indirectly, to drugs, alcohol, or sexuality or that includes profanity or mock profanity.
Title IX remains the law of the land and Ohio University does not condone any kind of sexual harassment or forms of discrimination. Ohio University has a policy that provides a uniform approach to issues of harassment, including sexual harassment, as a form of discrimination in all areas of employment and educational relationships at Ohio University. Harassment is defined as any conduct directed toward an individual or group based on race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, gender, gender identity or expression, mental or physical disability, or veteran status and severe enough so as to deny or limit a person’s ability to participate in or fully benefit from the University’s educational and employment environments, or activities, or severe enough that it creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile environment. University policy specifically defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advance or request for sexual favor, including an explicit or implicit quid pro quo, made by an employee, student, or agent of the University to a student or employee of the University, and is conduct of a sexual nature exhibited by such a person (or people) toward another when such conduct substantially interferes with the person’s educational or work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational or work environment. University policy further explains that quid pro quo is the Latin term for this for that‖ and occurs when there is a demand for a sexual favor in exchange for employment or academic benefit. A hostile environment exists when harassing behavior unreasonably interferes with a student’s academic or employee’s work performance and creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive academic or work environment.
The definitions and statements of policy in the preceding paragraph come directly from the University’s Harassment Policy and Procedure. This document provides examples of harassment, including sexual harassment, and specifies procedures for dealing with complaints of harassment. The sanctions against someone who violates the policy on harassment could include expulsion from the university or termination of employment. The latter sanction, of course, could include termination of a TA contract.
Students also should consult the link to the Ohio University Equity and Civil Rights Compliance with a statement regarding Title IX.