Next semester, I am going to take a course in which I have some background knowledge. Given the relevance of the course in my research, the lack of available students with sufficient knowledge in the course (it is one that is rarely taught at this school, and most of my supervisor's students either graduated last semester, or have just started with him this semester), and my general need to find some courses to TA for, the professor (my supervisor) had offered me the grader position for the course. The professor would be grading my own assignment, and I would then be marking other people's assignments based on those. It appears this situation has occured and been asked about before on this stack exchange, but not from the point of view of the TA. I initially expressed my discomfort with this situation, but, upon being told (by my professor) that this had been done before, decided to accept, to maintain a good relationship with my supervisor.
I however have a number of issues which, as the beginning of next semester, are bothering me more and more:
I know a number of the other students in the class, and we often used to organise study groups and work on the assignments together. Would it be ethical of me to still participate in these study groups ? On one hand, I will not have access to the solutions until we submit our assignment, on the other, I will definitely be able to see if someone makes an obvious mistake in their proof that I, as a TA, would deduct points on.
I was initially thinking that the best course of action for me would be to cut off all relations related to the class (that is, remain friends with the students I know, but not bring up the class with them), but at the same time, I would thus be depriving them of help that I would have given to them as TA had I not been in such a situation. I'm finding it extremely difficult to set the line between "We are fellow students together and helping each other out" and "I am your TA and you are a student, and the help I am providing here is so you can properly learn the class".
Updates in responses to questions:
- I have asked the professor for clarification; he says this is not the first time he has done this
- I could certainly ask for "blind" grading
- I am taking the course as a student, but have some background in the course