Section 1: Information for Undergraduate Teaching Fellows
The range of the UTF assignments is amazingly diverse. One UTF may work in an anatomy lab helping students work on cadavers. Another UTF may help music majors with their aural skills. Yet another may organize field trips. Some UTF assignments require specific skills such as knowledge of American Sign Language (ASL), Latin, or technology.
What Does a UTF Do?
- Assists the faculty member in development of materials
- Offers a student perspective on syllabus and assignment development
- Provides support during class sessions
- Teaches a "mini-lesson" some time during the semester
- Holds study sessions; conducts review sessions
- Holds office hours for students to talk about assignments
- Gives feedback to the faculty member on what "students are saying" and serves as the faculty member's "eyes and ears"
- Administers "one-minute assessments" to students and analyzes data in order to give professor feedback on students' understanding of material (see section on Formative Assessement During the Semester)
- Hosts "quality circles" or student focus groups for formative assessment about the course (see section on Formative Assessement During the Semester)
- Enters information on computer programs
- Runs AV equipment
- Serves as liaison to the library
- Offers a first reading on assignments
- Completes an assessment of the experience following each semester
- Helps develop a new lecture by doing a review of the literature
- Helps manage courses that are on WebCT, SyllaBase, or other course management system
- Arrives in class before the professor to ensure that everything is in place, that the board is clear, and to listen to students who have questions
- Remains in the classroom a few minutes after class to ensure that it is in order and to answer any follow-up questions from students
- Functions as liaison for guest speakers by helping with arrangements
- Listens actively to the class and picks up on cues that might otherwise be missed and then shares that information with the faculty member
- Models appropriate behavior for other students; for instance, be a "process coach" for students as in "here's where I got resources for this assignment"; "here's how to interpret this grading rubric"
- Creates PowerPoint presentations
- Tutors students as needed
- Watches for questions and alerts the faculty member to them
- If certified, drives for field trips (use extreme caution with such responsibility)
- Helps oversee group work; ensures that all are on task and following process; illuminates instructions that are not understood
- Oversees student groups' dry-runs for in-class presentations and offers constructive feedback
What Assignment Might a UTF Grade?
In general, UTFs grade only when there is no subjectivity involved, i.e., multiple choice, true/false, etc. Assignments that have an exact template to follow with right/wrong answers are also useful. UTFs might read papers to help in leading discussion sections or to serve as a "sounding board."
In essence, the UTF should never be placed in an awkward position in regards to their peers. The UTFs can provide information on which class members participated in review sessions, visited during office hours, or otherwise demonstrated interest and commitment to the course.
Rights and Responsibilities
What Are the Rights of a UTF?
- A clear description of their role and responsibilities
- A clear work schedule with sufficient advance notice to do the job well
- To be addressed in front of the class with respect by the faculty member
- To be provided with mentoring, career counseling, and advice from the faculty member
- A UTF workload is estimated at 100 hours per semester; if you feel that your work has gone over that allotment, use documentation of your hours to discuss this with your faculty mentor
If the UTF experiences any difficulty, the first line of communication is with the faculty mentor, followed by the Associate Dean.
What Are the Responsibilities of a UTF?
- Track hours worked (let the faculty mentor know if these exceed 100 hours for the semester).
- Establish boundaries on social relationships or dating students in the class; in general, dating a student in the class is not considered appropriate. If a student approaches the UTF for a social relationship, alert the professor immediately to protect yourself.
- Attend every class meeting IF required by the faculty member.
- Model excellent student behavior for the students in the course.
- Dress appropriately and in a way that engenders respect; it is not uncommon for UTFs to be asked to wear "business dress" when in their roles as Fellows.
- Be an active listener when meeting with your faculty mentor - take notes; likewise, be an active listener in class attuned to cues the faculty member may miss; then report those.
- Submit paperwork on time.
- Develop your résumé and share it with your faculty mentor for feedback.
- Be proactive: "May I suggest this approach?"; "What might I do to help?"
- When students ask you for "insider information" on quizzes, use care and report it to your faculty mentor.
- Ask when crunch times will occur in the semester so you can be prepared.
- Do not answer a question if you do not know the answer - find out or ask your faculty mentor.
- If there is a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) on the instructional team, ensure that expectations for working with that person are clear.
- Be careful in counseling students; Utah State University has professional counselors to whom students may be referred.
- Be aware of the many services for students on campus for counseling, tutoring, and library reference.
- Avoid conflicts of interest
- Be aware of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, commonly referred to as FERPA. Guidelines to educate UTFs on the confidentiality of student records are available on the Registrar's webpage at http://www.usu.edu/registrar/htm/ferpa.
- Guard your students' private identity information so they are not victims of identity theft. NEVER use students' social security numbers.
- Please know that workloads vary among UTF assignments.
Undergraduate Teaching Fellows are placed in positions of trust. Discretion and confidentiality are expected. Likewise, the faculty mentors will treat UTFs fairly and within the bounds of the Faculty Code on "Faculty Responsibility." UTFs may be approached by students in the class to accept late work, to get "help" on exams or on grading; immediately report such behaviors to the faculty mentor who can choose how to follow up. Keeping open communication is essential. Faculty members appreciate UTFs who are on time, accountable, and committed to the task. If events come up that prevent a UTF from meeting a deadline, alert the faculty mentor as soon as possible. All UTFs should complete the FERPA tutorial before the start of the semester (see FERPA Links at http://www.usu.edu/registrar/htm/ferpa).
Nuts and Bolts Issues
How Are UTFs Paid?
To be paid for your work as a UTF, you will need to see the department secretary and complete the appropriate paperwork. The payment of $750 is based on an estimated 100 hours of work. Please keep a log of hours worked to ensure fairness.
May UTFs Get Credit for Being a UTF?
A department or college may choose to offer a seminar associated with its teaching fellows program. Departments that have offered such seminars may have weekly meetings with homework and other assignments for which academic credit can be earned.
Assessment by the UTF at Semester's End
Faculty mentors and UTFs are both required to file assessment documents within one week after the conclusion of the semester with the Vice Provost and Associate Dean to ensure that the program is going well, to identify problems, to assess the efficacy of the program, and to make improvements. The Assessment Form is located in this guidebook.
UTF Application Form
Hiring practices vary among the colleges and may be done by the faculty member, department coordinator, or department head. The following form may be useful. Each department submits its request to the college by March 1st so that hiring can be finished by the end of spring semester.
Assessment Form by UTF
Assessments are required each semester. Please submit them electronically to the Associate Dean within one week after the conclusion of the semester. Your responses help us improve the program and give students meaningful academic employment. If you are continuing in your role as a UTF for a second semester with the same faculty member, submitting an evaluation is optional.