Information for Teaching Assistants

The Department awards approximately 75-85 teaching assistantships per quarter.  Most are 20 hour per week appointments. All students must hold teaching assistantships for at least 3 quarters (not necessarily consecutive quarters) to meet departmental Ph.D. degree requirement minimums, but most teach for an average of 4-6 quarters.  The TA Oversight Committee determines course teaching assistant assignments in accordance with the DCB Rules for TA Assignment (pdf). Exceptions require advance approval from the Department Chair. Students typically hold Teaching Assistant appointments during the first and/or second year of graduate study. All students appointed for 25% time (10 hours per week) or more will be eligible for mandatory student health insurance and partial tuition and fee remission.  Students are typically nominated for TA positions by their primary research advisor, but may also self-nominate by emailing the Staff Graduate Program Advisor at least 6 weeks in advance of the quarter in which the position is requested. 

Eligibility for Teaching Assistant Positions

All new students must attend mandatory TA training sessions, campus-wide TA Orientation, and the required laboratory safety course during New Grad Academic Training in September.  Any homework assignments associated with training must also be submitted at that time.  Students will receive a TA Training Handbook during New Grad Academic Training, which should be retained and referenced for the duration of the graduate career at UCSB. New TAs are also required to enroll in Chem 501A-B-C (General Chemistry) or Chem 502A-B-C (Organic) and attend weekly TA meetings.  Foreign students and permanent residents whose native language is not English must also pass the mandatory English for Multilingual Students (EMS) oral exam before being certified for sole classroom teaching.    

To maintain eligibility for TA nominations, continuing students must maintain good academic standing and perform all TA duties adequately.  Assessment of adequate TA performance will be determined by the instructor in charge of the course and submission of undergraduate evaluation forms.  Students who do not meet eligibility standards for one or more quarters will not be selected for future TA positions until performance is determined to be adequately improved.  

Training and Reference Materials

General Chemistry Laboratory Coordinator, Dr. Petra van Koppen works with all new students during the Orientation weeks in preparation for laboratory teaching assignments. Workshops, presentations, and assignments include Teaching Responsibilities,Teaching Problem Solving, current grad student panel discussions, lecture presentations, and initial TA meetings. Chemistry and Biochemistry Student Affairs staff provide information on undergraduate enrollment processes and waiting list procedures at this time. The Teaching Assistant Manual, distributed during Orientation, should be consulted throughout a student's tenure as a TA.

Handling Undergraduate "Crashers" and Waiting Lists

For safety reasons, undergraduate Chemistry labs are typically limited to 18 (Organic) or 24 (General) students per class. As a large number of students across many majors are required to take these courses, we are sometimes unable to accommodate all students in a given quarter. In these cases, the Undergraduate Advisor will create course waiting lists via the GOLD system for those courses that have reached their maximum capacity. Students who sign up for the waiting list(s) are expected to "crash" (crashing means to attend class until a student is able to secure a seat or informed that he/she will not be able to enroll) the course(s) in which they hope to enroll.

All students on the waiting lists are informed of the same procedures for crashing (see Enrollment & Waiting List Policies for details) so it is extremely important that all TAs handle crashers the same way to guarantee continuity and equity to the students. 

NOTE:  Students have been informed that they will be permitted to crash courses up until the add deadline (see current quarter calendar). 

Teaching Assistants are expected to adhere to the following instructions when accommodating crashers: 

1. Take Attendance (for those who are registered): On the first day of class, please take attendance. You can download your class roster from eGrades. If a student is listed on your roster and does NOT show up on the first day of lab, he or she will need to be dropped from the course. Please compile a "Drop List" of students (with their names and perm numbers).

2. ALL CRASHERS will meet in front of the Undergraduate Stockrooms (General Chemistry: 2nd floor stockroom, Organic Chemistry: in PSB-N Breezeway). If crashers come directly to your lab, please direct them to meet at the front of the undergraduate stockrooms. The Lead TA  will ask all crashers to sign a single Crash List. If there are spaces available in your section, the Lead TA will allow students at the top of the waiting list to attend your lab. The Lead TA will distribute approval codes to these specific students.

3. Bring your Drop List to Building 232: Immediately after your first class, please bring the Drop List to the undergraduate advisor's office (1004A in Building 232). Please be sure to include the enrollment code of the lab you are teaching. 

If a student would like to switch lab sections, they MUST find another student to switch with. Please direct students to fill out a Lab Switch Form in Building 232. 

Any Teaching Assistants who have questions about undergraduate waiting lists and crashers should consult the Undergraduate Advisor in person or via email before the first day of class. 

TA Absence Approval FormTeaching Assistants who will miss lab for any reason during the quarter must submit an Absence Approval Request Form with the appropriate approvals to the Staff Graduate Program Advisor at least one week prior to the start of the quarter. All TAs must be present on the first day of instruction, regardless of scheduled teaching times. Prospective TAs who will miss more than one week during the quarter will be ineligible for a position. Substitute TAs must have prior experience teaching the course and must be approved by the instructor in charge of the course.

Sample Schedule Request FormFollow this example when completing your Schedule Request Form each quarter in which you are hired as a Teaching Assistant.  A form specific to the course that you will teach will be provided to you separately. 

Quarterly TA Lab Schedules

Archived TA Lab Schedules

TA & Reader Duties/Responsibilities by Course
2A General Chemistry Laboratory - Honors Laverman 
2BC General Chemistry Laboratory - Honors Moskovits
2CC General Chemistry Laboratory - Honors Seshadri
Biophysical and Bioanalytical Laboratory
117A/217A Statistical Mechanics Buratto 
145/245 Computational Biochemistry Shea 
Astrobiology and the Origins of Life
162/262A Drug Design  Kahn 
162/262B Drug Design Kahn 
171/271 Bioinorganic Chemistry Butler
173A/268A Advanced Inorganic Chemistry - Reader Iretski
175/275 Physical Inorganic Chemistry Hayton
193 Internship - Chemistry (Safety TA) Gainer