The typical graduate assistant's duties involve teaching an average (over the academic year) of 4.5 credit hours per week (a small number are assigned 6 credit hours per week), or an equivalent in non-classroom duties. One way this can be accomplished is to teach one three-credit-hour course during one semester and two such courses for the other semester, or else one course each semester plus some other duties. With the current methods of teaching freshman level mathematics courses, there are very few individual sections of 1000-level mathematics courses available for assignment to graduate assistants, and the Department has developed an array of different teaching and service duties performed by graduate assistants that meet the instructional needs of the Department. Below are listed some typical graduate assistant (GA) jobs and the amount of Credit Hour Equivalent that is assigned to each. As a rule of thumb, credit hours are translated to expected hours of work at the ratio 3:8. That is, 4.5 credit hours would translate to approximately 12 hours per week of work; 6 credit hours would translate to 16 hours per week.
Possible Graduate Assistant Assignments
- 1a. Teach one (ordinary) section of Math 1021 (sections 1, 2, ..., 49): 1.5 hours teaching credit.
- This consists of lecturing for 50 minutes per week to approximately 40 students, and tutoring for 2 hours per week in the Math Lab in the LSU Library. Grading is automated.
- 1b. Teach one "corequisite" section of Math 1021 (sections 101, 102, ..., 199): 3 hours teaching credit.
- This consists of both lecturing for two 50-minute periods per week to approximately 40 students and tutoring for 4 hours per week in the Math Lab in the LSU Library. Grading is automated.
- 1c. Teach one section of Math 1022: 1.5 hours teaching credit.
- This applies only to sections of approximately 40 students; GA's are not assigned to teach 1022 sections of approximately 175 students. The format for 1022 is the same as for the ordinary Math 1021 described in (1a) above.
- 2. Assist a faculty member who is teaching a large lecture of Math 1022 (approximately 175 students): 0.75 hours teaching credit.
- Grading is automated. The helper may also serve as a tutor or manager in the Pleasant Hall Math Lab for one or more hours per week; any such hours give additional credit as described in paragraph 4 below.
- 3. Teach one section of Math 1023: 3 hours teaching credit.
- This consists of lecturing for two 50-minute periods per week to approximately 40 students, and tutoring for 4 hours/wk in the Pleasant Hall Math Lab. Grading is automated.
- 4. Serve as a tutor or manager for one hour in the Pleasant Hall Math Lab: 0.375 hours (= 3/8 hours) teaching credit.
- This does not apply to hours in the lab already included in the description of Math 1021, 1022, and 1023 above.
- 5. Lead one lab section of Math 1431: 0.6 hours teaching credit.
- One lab section consists of approximately 30 students; the lab meets 50 minutes per week. A faculty member gives two 80-minute large lectures per week to the 500-800 students in all of the lab sections of Math 1431.
- 6. Teach one traditional section of Math 1550: 5 hours teaching credit.
- This consists of lecturing for five 50-minute periods (or equivalent) per week to approximately 40 students, as well as grading (possibly via automation), and all the other, usual responsibilities of teaching a course.
- 7. Lead the recitation session of one section of a large lecture of Math 1550: 1.5 hours teaching credit.
- The recitation session consists of one 50-minute period per week, and contains approximately 40 students. A faculty member lectures 4 hours/week to the approximately 200 students in five sections of Math 1550. The recitation leader usually grades quizzes and tests for hes students, too.
- 8. Teach one traditional section of Math 1552: 4 hours teaching credit.
- This consists of lecturing for four 50-minute periods per week to approximately 40 students, as well as grading (possibly via automation), and all the other, usual responsibilities of teaching a course.
- 9. Lead the recitation session of one section of a large lecture of Math 1552: 1.5 hours teaching credit.
- The recitation session consists of one 80-minute period per week, and contains approximately 40 students. A faculty member lectures 3 hours/week to the approximately 200 students in five sections of Math 1552. The recitation leader usually grades quizzes and tests for his students, too.
- 10. Teaching duties for Math 1530 or Math 1540.
- 11. Grading for various math courses (undergraduate or graduate): The hour to credit hour ratio is 10:3.
- For example, 10 hours of grading per week = 3 hours of teaching credit. 5 hours of grading per week = 1.5 hours of teaching credit. Etc.
- 12. Miscellaneous other, non-teaching duties: The ratio is 10:3, same as for grading or tutoring above.
The department tries to assign a wide variety of the above duties to each GA over the course of his or her career at LSU, partly because all of these jobs are important to the department, and partly because we believe that GA's with many such work experiences are more attractive to employers.
To be the primary teacher of a credit-bearing course, the Graduate Assistant must first have at least 18 hours of graduate credit in Mathematics, either at LSU or elsewhere. New Graduate Assistants who are eligible to teach are assigned only one course to teach during the first semester so they can have a chance to get used to the demands of graduate study. All graduate assistants must be full-time students, which means taking at least nine hours of credit in each of the regular semesters (Fall and Spring) and at least six credit-hours during the Summer (if support is being provided during the Summer Term).
Board of Regents Fellowship holders are not required to teach. However, most of our students have an interest in careers in College or University teaching. Teaching experience, and strong teaching recommendations from the graduate institution, have become important criteria in winning an academic job. This is especially significant in today's competitive job market. Thus it is appropriate for a Fellowship student to do some teaching as part of his or her graduate education. Fellows are permitted to teach, after the first full year of graduate study, if the Fellow requests a teaching assignment solely for his or her own educational benefit. There is one restriction: Board of Regents Graduate Fellows are allowed to teach one course per year. Be sure to discuss this with the Graduate Director in advance of the semester in which you would like to teach.
All first-year graduate students in Mathematics at LSU must participate for two semesters in the one-credit-hour per semester course Communicating Mathematics (Math 7001 and 7002). This course is designed to ease your transition into the role of teacher, and to insure that undergraduate students have a well-prepared teacher. Even if you have taught before at another university, you will be required to participate in this seminar to insure your familiarity with our institutional requirements and expectations. The course will also instruct you and provide practise in writing and speaking about mathematics at both an elementary and an advanced level. Each new graduate student in Mathematics is expected to take the two semesters of Communicating Mathematics during the first year of study.
The Department has several resources to help you to be a good teacher. In addition to the instruction offered to you in the course Communicating Mathematics, the Associate Chair for Instruction and his administrative assistant are available to help and advise you in all teaching matters. Also, the Course Coordinators for each of the individual courses you may teach are available to help you, as is the Department's designated Faculty Observer. The Faculty Observer will visit your class to observe quietly from time to time, and will give you privately his reactions and suggestions. The Graduate Director is also available for help and advice. Occasionally a Teaching Assistant has some special problem with speech or with English as a second language. The Department can refer you for expert help in these matters as well.
The Department takes its instructional role very seriously, and it expects all graduate students who teach to do likewise. Most graduate students who teach in this Department do a very good job - sometimes a truly outstanding job. To recognize the teaching accomplishments of graduate students and to encourage excellence in teaching, the Department offers the Margaret and David Oxley Memorial Graduate Student Teaching Award and Certificates of Merit in Teaching for Graduate Students each year. Such awards and certificates are helpful when applying for an academic job in Mathematics. The photograph below shows recent winners of the Department's Graduate Teaching and Research Awards.