Currently, at a broad level, the scenario I am observing is as follows:

Tasks by Instructor (assistant professor, associate professor, professor)

  1. Collecting presentations from either the internet or asks TA's to make a presentation or rarely prepares a presentation for a given topic and presents it in front of students.

  2. Doesn't deal with coding

  3. Clarifies the theoretical doubts asked by students during class timings only.

Tasks by Ph.D. TA

  1. Prepares content for instructor class (sometimes)

  2. Prepares coding and theoretical content for tutorial class

  3. Clarifies doubts in tutorial class

  4. Deals with both theoretical and coding aspects for the tutorial sessions.

  5. Receives more doubts from students since students work on the topic after a (theoretic) introductory lecture by the instructor.

  6. Prepares assignment questions and also answers keys.

  7. Evaluates the submitted assignments, makes result sheets, distributes grades and deals with grade discrepancies.

Most of the time, postgraduate TAs assists in the last two steps. (It is not happening during pandemic days).

In general, for every couple of weeks, there will be a tutorial class. It takes at least 4 full days to complete all the tasks with satisfaction. Covering both mathematical and coding aspects in great detail is a challenging task. And even if one prepares with so much effort, it may not be useful for the research work.

So, I am wondering whether the workload is the same for a Ph.D. TA's in other universities or is my university is using them excessively?

Note: Although there are guidelines regarding TA work, no instructor follows them in strict sense.

  • 3
    Who can say about down votes. Not me in this case. Lots of questions get down voted for reasons I haven't yet figured out. This one, perhaps, because it has a certain "rant like" quality to it, even though it does ask a question. Some because the answer seems obvious, but I don't think that was true here. And some questions (not this one, I think) just seem to be "litter" on the site. But unless the vote is explained it is best to just ignore it. And, professors can get overworked too, of course.
    – Buffy
    Apr 2 at 14:40
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    @hanugm Is there a typo in your comment about guidelines? Maybe include any information about guidelines part of the question and not a comment. That would make the question less rant like and maybe more about a specific issue. Apr 2 at 15:19
  • 1
    As one of the students - which tasks are you willing for the TAs to give up?
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 2 at 15:28
  • 1
    @Dawn Yeah, guidelines are there but not followed...
    – hanugm
    Apr 2 at 16:13
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    How many TAs are there for the course? The tasks seem mostly reasonable provided there are sufficient people.
    – GoodDeeds
    Apr 2 at 19:11

Actually, I don't think it is excessive, though it may be a bit steep. It was a long time ago, but when I was a PhD student in mathematics at an R1 in the US, the "load" of a TA was about half that of the teaching load of a professor (1 course equivalent vs 2 for a professor). I don't see anything in your list that is really out of bounds, assuming #1 is occasional. In fact, all of it is good training for anyone wanting a career in academia. You need to practice all these things to get good at them.

I was thrilled (thrilled, I say) when, as an advanced TA, I was given complete responsibility for one section (of many) of an elementary course. The course was pretty standard so there wasn't much course design prep and the final exam was common to all sections, but, otherwise, the course was mine.

  • 3
    For what it's worth, I had complete responsibility for 2 courses each semester during a 2-year Master program in math during Fall 1984 to Spring 1986. There wasn't even a course supervisor I had to report to, although the director of graduate studies did oversee things. Apr 2 at 15:33

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