The work of graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) is an integral part of the training for all full-time research postgraduate (RPg) students regardless whether they are recipients of postgraduate studentships or scholarships. It helps prepare them for teaching-related work they need to undertake.
To strengthen students’ competence in teaching, all full-time RPg students admitted in 2019/20 and thereafter are required to complete PDEV 6800 Introduction to Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, a course designed to equip students with basic teaching skills and provide them with practical opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills in teaching. Students will complete a 10-hour training offered by the Center for Education Innovation (CEI), and perform instructional delivery to be assigned by the respective departments. MPhil students are required to give at least one 30-minute session of instructional delivery in front of a group of students for one term. PhD students are required to give at least one such session each in two different terms.
RPg students may be assigned GTA duties during the course of study at the University. Such duties may include marking and grading of assignments, helping course instructors conduct tutorials and/or laboratory sessions, answering questions/queries from students, and/or helping prepare class materials among other tasks. These assignments are limited to 36 effective hours per month on average. “Effective hours” include both contact hours and preparation time. In the case of research-related duties, if the duties performed by an RPg are directly related to his/her own thesis research or project, the 36-hour limit should not apply.
For this kind of work, students need to have a thorough understanding of the subject area being dealt with. They are also exposed to varied situations where they can acquire and improve transferable skills which will be useful to them in the long term. The range of skills involved includes time management, communication skills, group discussion techniques, techniques for conducting materials or information searches, writing skill, critical thinking skills and organization skills.
Graduate Teaching Assistant Coordinators (TACs) are experienced GTAs chosen by departments to work as a bridge between GTAs, the department/School and the University; their job is to help co-ordinate GTA-related matters.
Newly-admitted non-local RPg students who are unfamiliar with the local environment will normally not be assigned any GTA duties during their first term of study at the University.