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Case Study: The TA as Teacher

Osei-Wusu is a graduate student who has just received his first TA appointment: as tutorial leader for a first year course.

Osei-Wusu is an excellent student - bright, conscientious, and very interested in his area of study. Although he is a little apprehensive about his TA responsibilities, Osei-Wusu approaches the job eagerly, determined to do his best. He remembers some of the dreadful experiences he had as an undergraduate student, having to attend labs and tutorials led by ill-prepared and uncaring TAs. Osei-Wusu resolves to take his duties seriously, and to consider the needs of the students in his tutorial group.

Six weeks later, Osei-Wusu is in a state of panic. It is taking him far too long to prepare for meetings with the tutorial group each week. His preparation time, plus the time taken to properly mark student assignments, is simply far more that he had bargained for. Osei-Wusu needs to have more time for his own studies if he is to maintain the quality of work he has come to expect of himself.

What's worse, the students don't seem to appreciate how much time he actually puts into class preparation - sometimes Osei-Wusu feels that their combined effort is less than what he himself does! He feels isolated - his friends seem to think it is crazy to take teaching duties so seriously, and Osei-Wusu is hesitant to reveal his difficulties to the course professor. He asks himself: "Where did I go wrong?"

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Last updated June 24, 1997

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