A Teaching Assistantship (TA) is intended to contribute to the department’s teaching responsibilities and to your professional development. Your compensation and your continuation in the program depend in part upon your performance as a TA. As University employees, you are expected to adhere to all applicable policies and procedures, including those described in this document and at http://www.unl.edu/gradstudies/current/funding.

TA Categories

TAs fall into one of three categories as follows:
  • GTA—Graduate student Teaching Assistant
  • UTA—Undergraduate student Teaching Assistant
  • OTA—Other Teaching Assistant

TA Supervisors

Cliff Bettis
TA Manager
JH 134A
(402) 472-2789
Shawn Langan
Laboratory Manager
JH 139
(402) 472-2199

(All offices are in Jorgensen Hall – JH.)

Department Administrators

Dan Claes
Department Chair 
JH 258G or 208
(402) 472-2783, dclaes@unlhep.unl.edu
Stephen Ducharme
Vice Chair (Instruction)
JH 310F
(402) 472-8590 sducharme1@unl.edu
Kees Uiterwaal
Graduate Chair (graduate advising)
(402) 472-9010 cuiterwaal2@unl.edu
Herman Batelaan
Acting Undergraduate Chair (undergrad advising)
(402) 472-3579 hbatelaan@unl.edu

Cyndy Petersen
Department Secretary
(General questions, registration, scheduling, tutoring room)

Marjorie Wolfe
Graduate Secretary
(Graduate programs, grad student payroll)

Jennifer Barnason
Undergraduate Secretary
(Undergraduate programs, undergrad student payroll)

(Department Office (JH 208, 472-2770, paoffice@unl.edu)

Teaching Assignments

You will be assigned to teach laboratories, teach recitations, set up labs, do course grading, or some combination of these. A Full TA (6 units) is expected to work 20 hours/week on average. If you find that you are spending more time than this, discuss it with your supervisor or the Vice Chair. Your work assignment begins the week before classes and ends only after you have completed all of your assignments, usually by the end of finals. You may not arrange to leave for break or vacation until after finals are over. Due to likely visa problems, International Students may not travel abroad during winter break.

Typical Assignments (supervisor):
  • One laboratory section = 2 units (Laboratory Manager)
  • One recitation section = 1 unit (Course Instructor)
  • One laboratory setup = 1 unit (Laboratory Manager)
  • Course grading = varies as assigned (Course Instructor)

Other Duties (supervisor):

Office Hours
(TA Manager)
Most TAs are required to hold office hours each week in the Physics Learning Center (JH 253). The number of hours depends on your specific assignment—up to 1 hour per week for 1/3 and 1/2 TAs, and up to 2 hours per week for 2/3 and full TAs. You must attend all office hours (that is a full hour, not 50 minutes), or arrange a substitute and help any student who comes in – though you should give priority to your own students. The office hour schedule will be distributed during the first week of classes. You must sign in at the main office (JH 208) at the beginning of each assigned office hour.

Exam Proctoring
(TA Manager)
You will be scheduled to assist with administering exams several times per semester. This will not necessarily be for the same course as your teaching assignment.

(Course Instructor). You are expected to complete weekly grading for assigned labs. and/or recitations. In addition, recitation instructors may be asked to assist in grading class hour exams.

Lab Training
(Laboratory Manager). You are expected to participate in weekly lab-training meetings for your course (141, 142, 221, 222, 223) unless you are excused by the Laboratory Manager.

Guidelines and Procedures:

Find out what your duties are. Check in with your supervisor(s) frequently. Be prepared, be on time, be engaged in class, office hours, etc. Complete out-of-class duties (e.g., grading) promptly & thoroughly.

Learning Center (JH 253)
Sign in for each session in the main office. Help students; do not work problems for them.
The students are responsible for bring a copy of the assignment and the text.
Help students from your recitations or labs first, then any others that come by.

You are responsible for contacting the Course Instructor at least one day in advance of a scheduled exam if they have not already contacted you. They will instruct you when and where to meet. The exam may not be in the same location as the class, so be sure you know the room, building and time. Consult a campus map if the exam is held in a building unfamiliar to you.

Paid Tutoring
The Department does not arrange or coordinate paid tutoring. You may, however, engage in tutoring for pay, subject to the following conditions.
  1. You may not accept payment for tutoring from students in classes that you are assigned to teach or for which you are assigned grading.
  2. You may not tutor for pay in the Learning Center (JH 253) or in your office.
  3. You may apply to have your name included on the Departmental list of qualified tutors. 
  4. You must obtain written permission from your research supervisor before you begin paid tutoring.
  5. You must inform the Vice Chair before you begin paid tutoring.

Attendance Policy:

You are required to complete all of your assigned teaching duties as scheduled. These duties may include any or all of the following:
  • laboratory or recitation classes
  • training
  • office hours 
  • grading
  • meeting with your supervisor
  • exam proctoring
Your appointment begins one week before classes start and ends the last day of finals. You are expected to be available and ready for work any and all weekdays except for specified University Holidays (http://hr.unl.edu/general/holidayschedule.shtml). If you are not a US citizen or permanent resident – do not travel outside the country between semesters, because delays in handling your visa are very likely, causing you to return late, in which event you may lose your TA for the Spring Semester.

Under very limited circumstances, you may request to be excused from teaching to fulfill a professional obligation, such as to attend a research conference. There are three very important limitations to these excused absences. i) It is your responsibility to arrange for a suitable substitute and obtain written permission as explained on the form entitled Teaching Assistant Substitute Request Form at least two weeks before the planned absence. ii) This option is limited to one absence, for a maximum of one week, each semester. iii) You may not be excused during the first or last week of classes. Under no circumstances are you to cancel, dismiss, or reschedule class.

If some unforeseen and unavoidable circumstance, such as illness or accident, prevents you from teaching your assigned classes or other TA duties, you must inform the Department Office (472-2770, paoffice@unl.edu) as soon as you are able. We will attempt to find a substitute. Do not cancel or dismiss the class yourself.

Check your mailbox and e-mail regularly – at least once a day. The graduate students mailboxes are in JH 214, grouped alphabetically in the center section of the west wall. Notify the Main Office (JH 208, 472-2770, paoffice@unl.edu) immediately if your contact information changes.

Talk to us!

We try to make your teaching experience as pleasant and rewarding as possible. We welcome questions or discussion about any aspect of your teaching duties and studies. Consult the Vice Chair (Stephen Ducharme) for clarification about about the duties, policies, and procedures described in this document.

(As of September 2013)