over TAs, workload
By Laura Katsirdakis
As class enrollment increases in first-year
classes, the number of teaching assistants employed to handle
tutorial sessions and mark assignments may not be rising accordingly.
Yet, faculty may be forced to rely more heavily on their TAs
if they are faced with larger class sizes and reduced opportunity
for one-on-one contact with students.
"There are about 60 new [TA] positions
this year. This is a little more than normal and it is not in
line with the increase in students," stated Shawn Whitehead,
president of the Graduate Teaching Assistance Union. The struggle
to juggle graduate studies with TA duties will be worse this
year, he said.
"Administration has not been very forthcoming
or up front about how to deal with the [double cohort],"
Whitehead said. Less than half of all graduate students have
positions as TAs and Whitehead said "the University is
not creating enough opportunity for all graduate students to
Whitehead said his message to TAs is "to
keep track of the hours they work and consult the GTA union
if the workload is too much." He added "[administration]
has not hired enough TAs to deal with the demand."
Marty Kreiswirth, Dean of Graduate Studies,
said it is premature to make statements about student to TA
ratios because the TA hiring process for this year is not finished.
"The training sessions for TAs have just finished up this
week and there was higher involvement in these sessions this
year," he said. The training sessions are voluntary, he
It is not too late for professors to request
more TAs if it is needed, Kreiswirth said.
"I don't have the data yet to know how
many TAs [will be employed] this year. [The dean's office] is
the advocate of grad students and would be pleased to talk to
them if there are concerns," Kreiswirth said.
There is concern about the burden on TAs
this year, said Daryl White, president of the Society of Graduate
Students. "It's still very early to know if this will be
a [major problem]," he said, noting the university has
committed to hiring more TAs with the money provided by the
provincial Quality Assurance Fund.
"There has been no increase in TAs this
year, it is holding steady," said Keith Fleming, director
of administrative and commercial studies and professor of ACS
020. Instead, the increasing enrollment will be dealt with by
changing the structure of tutorials, he explained.
There are two kinds of TAs: graduate TAs
(who are also pursuing graduate studies) and departmental TAs,