Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Unhelpful Teaching Assistant

I'm not sure what it's like in other Universities but here, the teaching assistants, or TA's, don't really do all the much. We'll only see them at exam viewings or proctoring exams. They never really help with the teaching of the course.

And that's fine. If that's how the University wants to pay its Grad students so be it. Who am I to judge?

But when you have a TA that is extremely unhelpful to the point where it looks like she's trying to make your course unnecessarily difficult, that's just wrong.

Why are you doing this to us?

It seems like such a long time ago. Last week when I had all those papers due. Some of you might actually think that I dislike papers, that's not the case. I generally enjoy writing, I mean, I do own a blog right? Writing papers comes naturally to me, or maybe I've just had really good training.

So for my Developmental Psychology course, we were given the option of making a Developmental Psychology video or writing a research paper. Given my past ease with paper writing obviously I went with the paper. I don't want to act and talk to a camera for all my classmates to see.

Within a week, I wish I had done the video project.


And a large part of it was due to the TA. I don't think she really knew what she was doing or what she wanted from us. For example, she wanted us to review some stuff, write a paper on it and submit. Most of us assumed it was going to be like the paper our prof assigned us earlier so we wrote in a fairly informal style.

And we all lost marks on it. They was no indication that the TA wanted something written in APA format (basically, scientific Psychology paper style), no rubric whatsoever. And actually the same thing happened with the final paper. No concrete indication of what she expected or wanted. I can assure you, it is quite difficult to write a paper when you don't know what exactly is expected of you.

JUST TELL US WHAT YOU WANT.

Ok, I know some of you are saying, "Damian, so why didn't you just go and talk to her". Fine, completely reasonable IF she was ever available. Twice, I went to see her at her office during her scheduled hours. Twice she wasn't there. Turns out, her hours were wrong. And she didn't bother to inform us until the term was NEARLY OVER.

She also gave us a phone number to call (she never responded to any of the voice messages I left her), and an email address (that she never replied to) BUT eventually I got my meeting with her.

Because I ran into her in a hallway. And we had an impromptu meeting right there.

Seriously.

I could make a second post about all the crap this woman didn't help us with. There's a lot, I've barely scratched the surface. A vague, confusing project that probably required more work than necessary and supervisor that was unhelpful and largely unavailable. I mean, during the week that this paper was due, she sent us an email in advance telling us she would have no office hours. At all. I didn't even bother emailing her for help, she probably wouldn't have responded.

Luckily, several of us have come forth to the prof who was surprised and concerned. For our troubles this paper will be marked much easier and the TA will be getting "constructive criticism" in May.

And I'm glad, I have never spent so much time writing something and felt so insecure about it.

38 comments:

  1. if that is a tatoo on his back, he has clearly made some bad decisions.

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  2. The TA's like that is annoying. I can stand for it! Tsk! Tsk!

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  3. Haha, cracked up at the "seriously" pic. Him? LOL.

    Glad to hear professor is correcting though.

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  4. I don't think i had a single TA in all my 5 years of college. Then again, when you go to a school of about thirteen thousand, they're few and far between. Which, of course, means I have to find a larger school for grad school so that I may afford it.

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  5. Sorry to hear about your issues with the TA Damien. I've heard that TAs in most universities can be notoriously unhelpful but I've never heard of a TA seemingly going out to get anyone like you've been experiencing. Best of luck with the papers mate.

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  6. Wow that does sound like one evil teaching assistant. I thought they didn't even have the power to get you to do papers anyway actually. At least your actual prof was understanding.

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  7. Decent ending, I guess. She can't really give you lower marks because you didn't conform to the given standards IF NO STANDARDS WERE GIVEN, that's just stupid. Hope your mark turns out okay now.

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  8. Well, sounds like approaching the prof at that point was a good idea, at least...still annoying, I know.

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  9. Yeah the ones around here aren't very helpful either. I barely ever saw them, it's like they are pointless. Sucks when you get one that horrible though, some people shouldn't be allowe to be a TA.

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  10. I hate having bad bosses/co-workers who make you mess up even though it's their fault. Good that she will be getting what's coming to her

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  11. Atleast she seems to get what she deserves. I hate those people, who apparently don't like to do their job and it's coming down on others.

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  12. I've met the type and do pity anyone who has to deal with them.

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  13. She sounds lovely. Turn her into dog food.

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  14. Sometimes I wonder that myself, I mean why are certain people given a teaching job?

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  15. Haha, our TA's here at my university are pretty crap too :P

    Nice blog, followed.

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  16. Dude, I know that feeling. We have some TAs over here which are about as bad as yours. Sometimes even the profs ignore us. You send them about 10 e-mails, they won't answer.

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  17. Dude, TA's are worthless. An unnecessary buffer between you and your hermit of a professor.

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  18. She sure must have a bad rap around school, that is one bad TA.

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  19. I don't think TAs EVER know what they are doing. It's like, they are just there b/c they have to be. Sigh...

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  20. I was mad all the way to the second to last paragraoh! I'm now glad to hear things may work against so obvious an incapable person!

    It always bothers me that so many incompatent uncaring people get in to positions of power!

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  21. Well, I'm glad you guys got in sorted out in the end. My uni doesn't believe in TA's that "teach" classes. The TA's at my uni act more as secretaries and errand runners for professors.

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  22. All the TA's I have experience are incredibly smug due to their position >:|

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  23. That really really sucks. I really want to be a TA next year so I'll try my best to be helpful!

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  24. that TA sounds like such a headache

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  25. I had dinner last night with our daughter and SIL who's also working on projects and getting ready for his finals. After that and reading this it makes me really happy I'm not back in school.

    Just remember kiddo- this will too will pass- in time.

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  26. TA happens if not got connected which is difficult

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  27. teaching assistants are horrible in my country too and they do nothing, even though it's there task here to head exercises and such activities.

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  28. I HATE that! At least my grad school said up front that all writing was APA "unless otherwise instructed by the professor" so we had a starting point.

    Geeze. What a pain.

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  29. Oh, good. I'm glad you said something to the professor. Is she a fairly new TA? It could just be that she's still learning and needs this type of constructive feedback so she doesn't torture future students!

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  30. my gosh I hate that. My dissertation tutor was the same, told us all the wrong information for our project, and we we did what he asked and collected our data, he told us it was all useless :/ like WHAT?! We figured it out eventually, but useless tutors are the worst!

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  31. I never had any Teaching Assistants...and by the sound of yours that's a good thing

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  32. I had a TA that just made us watch videos every day, and we went into the finals with no knowledge whatsoever...

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