Departmental TA Training Seminars

The format of the TA training seminar varies by department and is specifically tailored to fit each department’s discipline. In most departments, this seminar carries the course number 495 and is a requirement for all new TAs at UCLA. Each TA training seminar is facilitated by a Teaching Assistant Consultant (TAC), an advanced graduate student with a high degree of discipline-specific teaching experience at UCLA. The TA training seminar supports UCLA’s Core Competencies for graduate and professional students by introducing new TAs to best practices in inclusive and evidence-based teaching as well as fostering mentorship, communication and leadership skills, and professional development for TACs.  TAs enrolled in these seminars will often practice teaching in microteaching sessions, discuss pedagogical strategies, learn from experienced TAs, and familiarize themselves with departmental procedures and guidelines.

Currently, more than 40 UCLA departments offer a TAC position supported by the Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT). Although the CAT TA Training Program funds most TAC positions, individual departments are responsible for nominating and hiring TACs for their department.

Departmental application process

Departments are welcome to submit an application for the TAC Award. We currently do not have the resources to guarantee every department at UCLA a TA Consultant. Therefore, the application process is competitive and departments that submit the highest quality applications are awarded available funding. The TAC application process has been waived for academic year 2021-2022 due to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The application process will resume for 2022-2023.

If your department does not currently have a TAC and would like an invitation to submit an application, please contact the TA Training Program.

TAC application process

If you are a graduate student and would like to be considered as a TAC candidate, contact the department chair or the faculty member responsible for the TA Training seminar in your respective department.

The TAC Role

The Teaching Assistant Consultant (TAC) is an experienced TA who has been selected to facilitate or co-facilitate the development and training of new TAs in their department. The TAC’s job is to help new TAs learn the fundamentals of evidence-based and inclusive teaching practices, how to apply these fundamentals in their discipline in order to be effective instructors, and how to effectively manage the responsibilities and conflicts that arise as a TA. As part of their work, TACs are encouraged to be active educators, to spend time thinking about what can be done to improve teaching in their department as well as their own classroom and to find new ways to help new TAs be more productive and effective in their roles.

TAC Responsibilities

TAC’ responsibilities fall into three main categories:

  • Co-develop and teach (or co-teach) the departmental 495 seminar
  • Support TAs through consultation, observations, and providing feedback
  • Continuing education on teaching and learning via the TAC Educational Development Academy

Leading the 495 and supporting TAs:
The TAC’s primary job is to help graduate students in the department learn how to be better teachers, and how to deal with the responsibilities and conflicts that may arise for the TA. To do this, the TAC leads a 495 TA Training Seminar in which TAs develop their teaching skills and learn about departmental and university resources and policies. This seminar will be designed and implemented under the guidance of the departmental 495 faculty advisor.

The seminar typically covers evidence-based and inclusive teaching practices, classroom management, and how to put these principles into action in the classroom. If needed, TACs also introduce TAs to basic teaching and learning technology such as course management software, Zoom, etc. and discuss when to use these tools in the classroom. The TAC will also cover issues specifically related to the TA position, including how to best collaborate with professors, how to lead effective discussion sections, how to coordinate grading with other TAs, how to effectively balance your time as a graduate student and TA, among others.

In addition, the TAC also conducts office hours and consults with TAs on an individual bases about issues, concerns, or questions they may have. The TAC helps TAs to self-assess and improve their own teaching via microteaching sessions and/or classroom observations.

TAC Educational Development Academy:
All TACs are required to attend a TAC Educational Development Academy developed and facilitated by the Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT), the Center for Education Innovation and Learning in the Sciences (CEILS), and Excellence in Pedagogy and Innovative Classrooms (EPIC). This advanced teaching and learning bootcamp guides TACs in thinking about the goals and objectives of being a departmental consultant for new TAs. The modules center around inclusive classroom practices and the difference between thinking about one’s own teaching versus guiding new TAs to become effective instructors. The TAC Educational Development Academy is one of the few opportunities that TACs from all across campus have to meet with the collective objective of raising the pedagogical standards of instruction for undergraduates at UCLA. For 2021-2022, the TAC Educational Development Academy will run remotely via Zoom from August 16th – 27th, 2021.

Limitations of the TAC Role

TACs should not be involved in activities that are not related to TA training, whether for their department or in any other capacity. For example, TACs should not be involved in administrative tasks, such as hiring TAs or assigning them to positions. The TAC should not be involved in creating course materials for undergraduate classes or other course development activities, including writing tests or organizing course content. Observations or evaluations of a TA made by a TAC should not be part of the TA’s official teaching record and should not be used in the process of hiring or assigning TAs to their job positions.

Eligibility for the TAC role

All TAC nominees must have a minimum of three academic quarters as a UCLA Teaching Assistant with an expertise in the discipline of the department(s) for which they will be employed. All TACs must have attained Teaching Associate or Teaching Fellow status by the time they begin their tenure as TACs. Exceptions may be made for departments whose graduate programs are too short to allow for the three-quarter teaching requirement on a case-by-case basis. There will be no other exceptions to this requirement.

Department Responsibilities for the TAC Program

If awarded TAC funding, departments must agree to the following guidelines when selecting their TAC(s). Please read carefully. If the department does not meet these requirements, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT) will request a replacement TAC for the position or rescind funding for the position.

Nominate a Qualified TAC Candidate

  • Complete and return all sections of the online TAC Nomination Form by Friday, June 11th, 2021. The CAT TA Training Program must receive all pertinent items, including the name(s) of the departmental contact person, TAC nominations and CVs, and any other conditions requested to be met in order to award the TAC funding. DYF is scheduled to be announced by May 28th.
  • TACs must qualify as either Teaching Associates or Teaching Fellows under the stipulations of UCLA’s Graduate Division. See the Academic Apprentice Personnel Manual for specifics. Exceptions may be made for departments whose graduate programs are too short to allow for the three-quarter teaching requirement on a case by case basis. There will be no other exceptions to this requirement.
  • Departments must select a candidate who has significant experience as a Teaching Assistant at UCLA, as well as expertise in the discipline of the department for which he or she will be employed.

Ensure TAC Can Complete All Required Job Duties

  • Departments must inform the TAC of his or her job duties as outlined above.  If a TAC cannot fulfill these commitments, CAT will ask the department to find a replacement TAC.
  • TAC Educational Development Academy: Departments must inform TACs that they are required to complete all modules of the TAC Educational Development Academy, held this year during the period from Aug 16 – 27th 2021. Each module will have synchronous and asynchronous components and will be offered more than once in order to accommodate varying schedules. The full schedule will be available by mid-July. All TACs, including those who have previously served as TAC, are required to attend. If your intended TAC cannot attend the training modules, you will be asked to nominate a different TAC. If your intended nominee has a partial conflict, please contact TA Training Program Coordinator Alison Fedyna (tatp@teaching.ucla.edu) to discuss.
  • Departments should inform TACs that they may be asked to participate in the annual TA Conference, hosted by CAT’s TA Training Program in September 13th – 17th, 2021. Participation is not mandatory. TACs who are asked to lead workshops or serve in other capacities for the conference will be paid for their time.

Secure a Faculty Advisor

  • Departments must inform the TAC of who the Faculty Advisor will be, and the TAC must be involved in the in-class teaching of a departmental training seminar, usually numbered as a 495 course.
  • Departments must provide Faculty Advisors copies of the Faculty Advisor guidelines and the TAC job description and ensure they fully understand the requirements of each.

Schedule Required Courses

  • Each TAC should be listed as the TA Instructor for the 495 course in the Schedule of Classes.
  • TACs should register in a 375 course during the quarter they are conducting their departmental seminar. For a 25% position, TACs should be registered for 2 units, and for a 50% position, they should be registered for 4 units.

Hire Your Department’s TAC in the Allocated Quarter(s)

  • Departments will hire their TACs directly using CAT’s FAU for their award funding ONLY in the quarter(s) allocated by CAT. Departments are responsible for all aspects of hiring procedures including offer letters, supplemental letters, and fee remissions. Departmental contacts responsible for hiring will be sent additional information prior to the beginning of the academic year.
  • As TACs are hired under TA appointment titles, departments must provide TACs the option of participating in parking and parking-related services that are available to other similarly situated employees, as noted in the newly negotiated UAW contract.
  • Departments must provide their TACs with access to required facilities and instructional support (e.g., office and desk space, telephone, computer, storage space, office, lab and instructional equipment, mailbox, office supplies, texts, and/or reading material).

Faculty Advisor Responsibilities

In addition to providing support for new TAs in the department, the TAC program also aims to provide a professional development opportunity for graduate students to advance their own teaching practices and leadership skills. The role of the Faculty Advisor in this program is to provide support and mentorship for the TACs in this endeavor. In addition, the involvement of the Faculty Advisor in a department’s TA Training program can help to set the tone and create an environment that promotes the importance of undergraduate teaching at UCLA.

The following guidelines detail the suggested involvement of a department’s Faculty Advisor:

  • Faculty Advisors and TACs should develop and plan the 495 (or equivalent) seminar and any other TA training activities together.
  • Faculty Advisors should participate in the 495 by either co-teaching with the TAC or attending some sessions of the seminar.
  • Faculty Advisors should meet regularly with their department’s TAC(s) and be available to support the TAC(s) as needed.
  • Faculty Advisors should provide support for evidence-based and inclusive teaching practices, and suggest discipline-based pedagogical techniques for the classroom.
  • Faculty Advisors should at minimum help develop criteria for providing feedback to new TAs in their department on their teaching. Ideally, Faculty Advisors would also participate in this feedback process.
  • Faculty Advisors and TACs should work together to develop an assessment plan for learning outcomes of the department’s overall TA training program.
  • Faculty Advisors should inform new TAs about the annual Fall TA Conference and other available TA training workshops.