The Teaching Assistant Role

Instructional Roles

Instructor of Record

A TA who is fully responsible for teaching a class, from developing or adapting a syllabus, planning and teaching classes, writing and grading tests and papers, meeting students during office hours, and assigning final grades. 

Laboratory Assistant

Depending on assignment and department, a LA can be responsible for teaching and managing multiple labs sections in a traditional lab setting, including pre-labs, lab safety talks, and facilitating lab time. 

Laboratory Assistants can also be responsible for computerized, studio-  or field-based laboratories. Several TAs are often employed to teach multiple sections of the same labs with a senior TA acting as lab coordinator. 

Discussion Leader

Sometimes called breakout or recitation leaders, graduate students with these assignments will often be in charge of leading small seminar-like sessions for students in large-enrollment classes.  Like Instructors of Record and LAs, discussion leaders often teach by themselves and have varying degrees of autonomy in terms of what is discussed and how students are assessed.  

Grader/Office hours

TAs whose main responsibilities are to grade tests and papers are typically referred to as grader/office hours TAs. These teaching assistants hold office hours to meet with students individually or in groups and have many administrative duties related to the course. There may also be opportunities for additional instructional experience within this role.