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I'm a PhD student specializing in computer vision, with a previous Master's degree.

Until now, I have TAed the 5xx course "Introduction to Computer Vision" twice, and 4 other courses (including a 5xx Graphics course and 3 other undergraduate computer science courses).

I am set to pursue an academic career path and am wondering how to choose my next course for being a teaching assistant. I am not sure if repeatedly TAing "Introduction to Computer Vision" may help me build a strong CV for academia. On the other hand, another option is to TA the course 5xx Computational Biology.

I prefer to TA the class "Introduction to Computer Vision", however, is there a reason I should go with TAing "Comp. Biology"?

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  • By TAing are you leading or teaching the course, or running labs/hw/tests? I've seen PhD students doing both.
    – mkennedy
    Jan 26 at 23:43
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    1) Academia is a vast and diverse place - what kind of academic jobs are you aiming for? 2) 5xx courses are for Master's students? Jan 26 at 23:46
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    @mkennedy, I mean taking up the HWs, projects, and designing programming assignments. I am sometimes asked to take up couple of lectures. But not really leading the entire course.
    – kalyan g
    Jan 27 at 0:49
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    @kalyang - at what kind of university? MIT, U. Michigan, Kalamazoo, Albion, and Grand Valley State University all hire professors, but their professors do vastly different jobs. Jan 27 at 1:00
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    From experience, TAing for the same course makes it easier to TA for the same course. In that sense yes, because you'll be able to spend more time and effort towards research and other things.
    – tarzh
    Jan 27 at 23:47

3 Answers 3

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I doubt that many people would make much of whether you TA the same or different courses, assuming that the tasks are the same for each.

But there are some places that permit advanced doctoral students who have been TAs for a while to actually teach a section of a popular course. Normally that would be one that had several sections (like CS1), taught to the same lesson plans and likely with a common final exam. That is a bit more interesting in the job market as you would have faced students in a normal class, dealt with questions and such, and have been evaluated.

But for handling breakout sessions, answering questions about the material, and conducting standard exams, it is unlikely to have any impact.

Presumably, you are familiar with the course material in any course you would TA, so the variation would mean little unless the tasks were different in some fundamental way.

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    Have been evaluated - if one is lucky and the course is large enough. I am lucky to get a nonzero number of student evaluations even from my obligatory classes, because so few students are in each specialization. I did some even when doing my PhD, but again, very few students answered the questionnaires. Jan 27 at 13:00
  • In my university TAs usually don't get to teach sections of course (unless if a prof is busy with some conference kind of stuff). But I think building some rapport by doing more TAs in the same course will help put me in consideration for such case. (This is just an extrapolation from my experience). The second time I did the TA for the course, prof (also my advisor) gave complete freedom about HW designs and grading. This is a reason why I considered to TA third time for the course.
    – kalyan g
    Jan 27 at 19:54
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In general TAing helps but TAing same course helps or not depends upon how you foresee yourself teaching those courses in the future. Usually teaching is guided by the departmental need and your expertise. If department is interdisciplinary and student takes diverse courses you will have opportunity to develop type of course you want to teach. However some fields have a set of standard courses as required courses. Some of the faculties are hired to teach those required courses. In that case you may not have much flexibility in designing your own course and thus using material that you are currently using to TA as guiding documents.

So, I would suggest if you have opportunities to diversify your CV by teaching different courses as TA and if that is not additional learning burden to you, I think that will help. It will help because you can have choices of courses you want to develop in the future.

Thinking beyond TAing, if you have enough experience TAing, explore opportunities to develop syllabus with your TA Advisor and become instructor of record so you can showcase these experiences in your CV. This experience will help in the future as well.

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If you think you might end up wanting a job somewhere that you can teach introduction to computer vision, then TA'ing this course multiple times will help you to come up with a syllabus for teaching this course on your own (which I hope will happen before you graduate, given how tough the job market can be if you don't have any solo teaching experience). Of course, being a generalist in your field can help as well. It really depends, but the greater potential job value is going to come from teaching the course.

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