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Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Program

In contrast to many colleges and universities, faculty at Illinois State maintain a strong commitment to undergraduate instruction and mentoring. Every semester, undergraduate students work with department faculty in their classrooms.

The department encourages faculty to participate in the Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA) Program. Students who work with faculty as undergraduate teaching assistants often assist with grading, record keeping, reading papers, holding office hours, and tutoring students in the class. To participate as a teaching assistant, students enroll in PSY 291 Special Projects: Undergraduate Teaching.

The UTA Program provides opportunities for students to acquire a variety of skills that meet the Psychology Course Objectives. Specifically, the faculty have agreed that, through the UTA Program, students will acquire the following:

  • Develop skills and experiences relevant to achieving selected career objectives (Objective 5.4)
  • Work and communicate effectively and sensitively with people from diverse backgrounds and multicultural perspectives (Objective 8.1)
  • Reflect on experience and find meaning in it (Objective 10.1)
  • Demonstrate the application of psychological principles to promote self-improvement (Objective 10.2)
  • Demonstrate appropriate, effective relationships with others in diverse settings, such as work, family, and other social environments (Objective 10.3)
  • Assess personal and professional development with respect to civic, social, and global responsibilities and engagements (Objective 10.4)
  • Display high standards of personal integrity to promote trust with peers and colleagues (Objective 10.5)

Learning objectives for students enrolled in PSY 291 will vary, depending upon the faculty member and the course. Based on the student's responsibilities as a teaching assistant, students can expect to develop the following:

  • An understanding of the course content by assisting with teaching the course
  • How "learning in order to teach" requires a deeper level of understanding than "learning in order to perform on an exam"
  • A variety of approaches students take to learning material
  • How to provide effective instruction to individuals and small groups
  • How to provide constructive feedback to students
  • Classroom management techniques
  • How to construct fair evaluations of students
  • How ethical and confidentiality issues arise and are addressed in teaching situations

Students may be approached by faculty to inquire about their interest in a teaching assistant position. However, students can also ask faculty if they have teaching assistant opportunities. After discussing the teaching assistant's responsibilities, the student and faculty member should complete the PSY 291 Special Projects: Undergraduate Teaching Contract. Click on the link to download the contract. The contract is an interactive Microsoft Word document that should be completed on a computer. If necessary, the contract can be saved and sent as an email attachment to the faculty member. All sections of the contract should be completed before it is printed, signed, and dated by the student and faculty member. The signed contract should be submitted to the department for approval. If the contract is approved, the department will also approve an override for the student to register for PSY 291. It could take one to three weeks for the contract to be approved and the override processed before students can register for PSY 291. Students must register for the specific number of credits identified in the contract; otherwise, the registration will not be complete. If the contract is approved after the first week of the semester, students must register for the course in 107 Moulton.