In the two universities I studied at, as well as in the university I am currently teaching at, the tutors (teaching assistants) are usually master students. This means that they work for two years, graduate, and are replaced by new TAs (a small number of them continue to doctoral studies, in which case they work for four additional years). This has several apparent disadvantages:
- Becoming a good tutor takes time to learn and practice. The fact that most tutors only work for two years means that students get sub-optimal tutoring.
- Since the TAs know that their job is temporary, they do not have much incentive to improve. Some of them just do the minimum requirement; some of them do even less than that (of course, there are master students that are great tutors, but the incentive system does not support this).
- Whenever new TAs arrive, the course lecturers have to put a lot of time and effort in guiding them and explaining them what is expected from them.
I would like to suggest to my university, to use the budget currently spent on TAs, for hiring full-time TAs for a long-term position. This would incentivize them to improve and become experts in tutoring, so the level of teaching could improve. My questions:
- Is this model of full-time long-term TAs common in other universities?
- Does it have any disadvantages?