Having issues with understanding the material as well as the homework are mundane concerns that students face. While some students try gathering a group of friends and working on the homework, others go to tutoring centers located around campus. However, communicating with the teaching assistants is arguably one of the best actions one could do at the University of Toledo in order to do well in classes as well as learn the material. So, who exactly are teaching assistants?
Who are teaching assistants at The University of Toledo?
Teaching assistants serve as additional benefactors to students along with the professor; they not only provide clarity on the topic of interest but also provide assistance on the homework as well as any projects that the students may be working on. In some classes such as BIOE 1200 (visit article on BIOE 1200 for more details), teaching assistants will be in the class during the lecture as well as the assignments; however, in other classes such as General Chemistry 1230, teaching assistants will exclusively have their own recitation period in which students will attend the class and answer questions.
What are significant differences between teaching assistants and professors?
The professor will usually provide the lectures in the classroom and exams during midterms week; however, unless students personally attend sessions with the professor, students and professors rarely have any significant interactions. Teaching assistants bridge this gap between the teachers and students. By having one-on-one interactions with the students, teaching assistants will answer any questions that students could not ask the professor about and provide clear suggestions on the material or project-work.
Do teaching assistants have personal time sessions?
Yes, teaching assistants are usually students who are pursuing their Masters degrees or Doctorate degrees, so they are busy throughout the week. Based on their availability, they will have one-two hour sessions per week, and these change every semester due to the priorities of the teaching assistants. If students cannot personally meet with the teaching assistants, most of the teaching assistants are open to digital communication via texting or emailing, so students can still ask questions.
Should students approach the professors or teaching assistants?
This primarily depends on the student as well as the question. If the student would like to meet on a personal basis to discuss about grades, withdrawal, et cetera, the professor would be the ideal choice. However, if the student has questions related to the coursework, projects, or homework, teaching assistants would be preferable. Most of the teaching assistants will have already studied the class that they are serving as teaching assistants for; therefore, they know the types of questions that students will ask as well as the concerns that students will have. This allows them to provide suggestions on a unique basis that could allow the student to learn as this process is similar to how the teaching assistants learned when they had taken the class. So, depending on the topic of interest, students should consider asking either the professor or teaching assistants.
Are their teaching assistants for most of the classes?
Yes, many classes have teaching assistants. As mentioned earlier, some teaching assistants usually have their own recitation classes in which they provide guidance to students; these types of classes include General Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, et cetera. Other times, teaching assistants will sometimes be in the class during the lecture as well as assist students during the assignment, and these classes are usually the Engineering courses such as BIOE 1000 and BIOE 1200 (visit articles on BIOE 1000 or BIOE 1200 for more information). In addition, the lab courses will usually have the teaching assistants provide information on the experiment and assistance to the students in regards to the experiment. Especially for lab courses in which the professor is rarely ever in the class, it is necessary for students to voice concerns to their respective teaching assistants for clear information.
Teaching assistants may be another form of assistance that students receive in addition to the Learning Enhancement Center, recitation classes, and personal tutoring sessions; however, it is necessary for students to build a strong connection with their respective teaching assistants as they will have already experienced what the students are currently experiencing. In addition, teaching assistants have the knowledge to provide students useful ways to engage with campus life and any opportunities outside of campus life such as CO-OP (for engineering classes) as well as internships. Therefore, if there were to be any action that students should do especially in their first year, it would be to interact with the teaching assistants as it will definitely pay off in the first few years of university as well as in the future.