Graduate Teaching Assistantships in Journalism & Digital Communication
The College of Arts and Sciences generally funds two graduate teaching assistantships each fall and spring. One TA is dedicated to the Neighborhood News Bureau project, and the other is designated for the core undergraduate reporting curriculum. The NNB TA is funded for 20 hours a week, and the core curriculum TA is funded for 10 hours a week.
Teaching assistants in Journalism & Digital Communication work closely with faculty on select skills courses. They augment feedback to students, help prepare and refresh lesson plans, and assist in publishing work via local media organizations and internal websites.
Department TAs function primarily as reporting, writing and production coaches, complementing input from course instructors and enabling more expansive feedback on skills at the core of our degree programs: writing, editing, technology, critical thinking and reporting. These skills connect to competencies central to our professional accreditation by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.
TA supervision & evaluation
TAs are supervised jointly by the instructor of record and, more formally, by the graduate program coordinator. During the TA’s first semester, a formal evaluation takes place to gauge how things are going and provide feedback and make requests around anything that should be adjusted to ensure the TA is meeting expectations.
Classroom presence expectations
Teaching assistantships in the Journalism Department are designed for flexibility so that TAs can make their work fit their schedules; however, there may also be times when it is valuable for a TA to have a classroom presence (attending in person or connecting via Teams), for example, to deliver a lesson or to be introduced to the students. TAs should coordinate with the instructors they are working with throughout the semester to settle on the particulars of these classroom visits.
Common TA responsibilities
The following list of activities represents the most common TA tasks. Assignments that deviate significantly from the following items should be cleared with the Graduate Program Coordinator ahead of time.
- Review and provide written feedback on students’ story pitches
- Review and provide written feedback on students’ draft stories
- Conduct one-on-one coaching sessions with students to brainstorm and troubleshoot story development.
- Assemble brief reports for instructors on themes that emerge from story reviews and coaching sessions, particularly in terms of recurring challenges or successes.
- Prepare and present lectures on focused topics, to be coordinated with course instructors.
- Facilitate posting stories to class blogs and websites.
This schedule is provided to help instructors and TAs manage time throughout the semester and are based on a typical class size of 20 students. While the sample covers the first seven weeks of a semester, it could be repeated multiple times or rearranged to best suit the needs of the course. The schedule covers a single class, or 3–3.5 hours per week.
Throughout the week, TA spends 10 minutes per student reviewing and providing written comments on story pitches. Feedback gets posted in Canvas.
TA schedules one-on-one coaching sessions with half the class and, throughout the week, spends 20 minutes with each student discussing writing and reporting challenges.
TA schedules one-on-one coaching sessions with the second half the class and, throughout the week, spends 20 minutes with each student discussing writing and reporting challenges.
TA prepares an original lesson on a relevant course topic selected in coordination with the instructor.
TA delivers prepared lesson and submits summary report to instructor on themes noted in coaching sessions and in reviews of student work.
Throughout the week, TA spends 20 minutes per student reviewing and providing comments on story drafts for half the class. Feedback gets posted in Canvas.
Throughout the week, TA spends 20 minutes per student reviewing and providing comments on story drafts for the other half of the class. Feedback gets posted in Canvas.
Instructor of record role
- Instructors have the primary responsibility for directing TAs’ work.
- Instructors should endeavor to check in with TAs at least once every two weeks to ensure continuity.
- In between check-ins, frequent communication via email is also important and encouraged.
- Instructors should work with TAs to plan out assigned work within a course at least a week in advance as the semester unfolds.
Graduate program coordinator role
- TAs should check in with the Graduate Program Coordinator three times a semester: at the beginning, around midterms, and during the last week of classes (or finals week). These check-ins provide opportunities to share information about expectations and about how the assistantship is unfolding.
- The Graduate Program Coordinator is also available throughout the semester to work with TAs and their assigned instructors should any specific questions or challenges arise.