Teaching Assistantships: A Student Perspective

This month, The Pink Flamingo brings you the third installment of the very popular series, A Student Perspective (see installments one and two on Research Assistantships and Internships).  For the third installment, we interviewed Janet Weidert about her Teaching Assistantship.

1. Who did you work with for your teaching assistantship (TA)?
Dr. Gurung!

2. How did you find out about the TA and go about getting it?
After talking about my career and grad school goals with my advisor, they recommended I apply for a teaching assistantship. I used the Human Development/Psychology page to find out what professors needed TAs. I applied to be a TA for Dr. Gurung’s Intro to Psych class and got it.

3. What kinds of things do you get to do for your TA?
You get to do all kinds of things – present lecture material, hold review sessions, work with students, help with in-class activities, and develop test writing skills. I also learned about teaching philosophies and how to engage students. I even got to do some research on student study behaviors (which was great because I got to put it on my grad school applications as another research experience!). But overall, my favorite thing was to just sit and observe the class and their reaction to whatever was being presented. You could literally see the light bulbs going off in their heads.

4. How do you think the TA relates to what you have learned in your classes?Being a TA is a great tool to apply what you have learned. As a TA, you are both a student and a teacher, so the opportunity for relating what you have learned in other classes is huge. In your teacher role, you use examples and ideas from other courses to help answer questions and explain the material. As a student, you get to discuss and learn more about what you already know. 

5. How important has this TA been to your educational experience at UWGB, and why?
Being a TA gives you a view of the classroom from the other side of the desk. Gaining that experience has been one of the best things I have done at GB. One advantage of being a TA is that your professor gets to know you on a much more individual basis. This means they can write a stronger letter of recommendation later for a job or graduate school. Another advantage being a TA has given me is separating me from my competitors in applying for graduate school. Not many undergraduates get the opportunity to be a TA, so having that experience gave me an edge. As an added bonus, I got lots of extra help and direction in the graduate school process. I had one more professor who was willing to review my personal statement, give advice, and bounce ideas off.