The Department of Economics assigns graduate student teaching assistants to undergraduate and graduate classes.
Assignment to specific courses depends upon a variety of factors. While we attempt to honor the preferences of the graduate student, we also need to account for the needs of the instructor and enrollment patterns in different courses. Graduate TAs are expected to be on campus and available to students from the first day of courses until the grades are submitted at the end of semester. Please check with the instructor before making travel plans for the end of semester. Extended absences during the semester are strongly discouraged and must be approved by the DGS and the instructor.
Typically first and second years work as RAs during the summer while more advanced students work on their own research. It is expected that students be in residence for two of the three months unless their RA/research work involves off-campus field research.
A list of typical responsibilities of graduate TAs follows:
- Lead conference sections.
- Hold office hours and/or be available at other times to help students with questions.
- Grade homework assignments.
- Help to prepare homework assignments and exam questions, if so requested.
- Grade exams.
- Help to administer (proctor) exams, including prevention and detection of cheating.
- Work with the instructor to have a system in place for returning homeworks and exams.
- Help the instructor to maintain records of homework and exam performance.
A graduate TA is expected to spend up to twenty hours per week during the semester fulfilling responsibilities that may include conducting review sessions, holding office hours, meeting with students at other times if needed, helping with the preparation of homework problems and/or exams, proctoring exams, and grading. Depending on the availability of TAs, classes with large enrollment are assigned at least one graduate TA, with some very large classes being assigned undergraduate TAs and graders as well. Graduate TAs are generally expected to grade both homework and exams as part of their appointments. Additional graders will only be assigned to courses under two scenarios. First, courses staffed primarily with undergraduate TAs can request graduate graders for exams. Second, courses with a high enrollment to graduate TA ratio (>60) may have undergraduate graders to assist in grading of homework. Requests for adding undergraduate graders to courses with lower ratios should be made to the DGS and the chair.
Undergraduate graders work under supervision, with a system in place to prevent conflicts of interest by having each undergraduate grader identify and not grade the exams of students with whom they have out-of-class relationships. Also, undergraduates should be asked to grade mainly questions having unambiguous answers, such as multiple choice, leaving the grading of answers involving more judgment to graduate TAs and instructors. While graders can grade individual assignments and exams, the instructor must play a supervisory role and take full responsibility for the determination of final course grades.
Academic and Student Conduct Codes
Graduate students are expected to be aware of, and to conduct themselves in accordance with, the principles of the Brown community as set forth in the Academic Code: Graduate Student Edition and the University's Student Conduct Code. The Academic Code document can be found on the Graduate School website.
The Student Conduct Code applies to all students. Ignorance of these Codes is not accepted as a defense for violation of any of the rules and regulations specified in the Codes. Procedures for identifying and treating code violations are described in the above mentioned documents.
Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment
Graduate students in their roles as students, research assistants, teaching assistants, and teaching fellows are expected to refrain from behaviors that constitute sexual harassment as specified by Brown University’s Policy Statement on sexual or gender-based harassment, sexual violence, relationship and interpersonal violence and stalking. This policy can be found online here.
In part, the policy states: No faculty, graduate or medical student, medical resident or fellow, postdoctoral fellow or associate, teaching or research assistant or fellow, proctor, mentor, or undergraduate teaching assistant shall request or accept sexual favors from or engage in a romantic, sexual or intimate relationship with any undergraduate, graduate or medical student who is enrolled in a course or section taught by that individual or otherwise subject to that individual’s academic supervision. The policy also addresses relationships between individuals of different University status; see Section IX: Prohibited Sexual or Intimate Relationships.
Additional information on what constitutes sexual or gender-based harassment and what a student should do if they feel they are the victim of harassment by another student or an individual of different University status can be found online on the Office of Institutional Diversity and the Title IX Office websites. The Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Resource Guide for Graduate Students is also a good resource.