What Are “Teaching Assistants” and Should I Become One?

Mladjo Ivanovic is a graduate student and teaching assistant at Michigan State University. According to Ivanovic, being a teaching assistant is a great way to enhance your resume and your own learning experience during a part of your college life.

Ivanovic has been a teaching assistant for two years at MSU, but has also taught in Europe during his studies as a Masters student. He shares his story about the benefits of being a teaching assistant, and why he would recommend it for others

1. What is the best part of being a Teaching Assistant?

“The best part of being a Teaching Assistant is to be in a position where you can have an impact on your students, to arouse their curiosity about important questions within our society and point out certain inconsistencies in the way we usually conceive reality. I tend to understand this process as relational and reciprocal. Often throughout this process of teaching I also learn and benefit from class interaction.”

2. What are your TA duties? 

“I usually teach my own courses, which basically means that I am responsible for the content of the course material, lectures, assignments and grading. Sometimes though, I am an assistant for a senior professor and in that case I usually only grade the assignments, try to be helpful to the students throughout office hours and review sessions, and help the professor keep an overview of the class dynamic.

3. What are some of the negative aspects of being a TA 

“It’s time consuming. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to keep a balance between my lectures (the course I teach) and my own research.”

4. How can being a TA help your studies as a student?

 As I mentioned above, it can be a distraction, but then again I will be a professor one day. That means that I need to have experience teaching and an insight into class dynamics. Often I am also able to incorporate theories that I find interesting into course material. This way I do not only extend my own knowledge but also receive critical feedback from my students, which benefits not only the class atmosphere and the students’ intellectual and critical development, but also my own research.”

As you can see, being a TA can greatly affect your learning experience either as an undergraduate or a graduate student.

Being responsible for teaching other students helps you better learn the material and hold you accountable for knowledge of a certain subject. While it may be a lot of work, as a TA you are able to advance your research opportunities, if you are an undergraduate student, it forces you to master the material in front of you.

The experience as a TA might possibly be more rewarding as a graduate student so you have a chance to keep track of your research. However, becoming a TA for a major-related class as an undergraduate student can help you network, learn material for your major and give you a chance to get involved in your university and add experience to your resume.

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Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet is a sophomore at Michigan State University, studying journalism and philosophy of law. Aside from reporting, Madeline enjoys tae kwon do, reading, writing, researching and traveling, and can be considered a music enthusiast. Madeline currently works as an intern for thecollegehelper.com, and is a banquet server at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, MI. Perfecting the storytelling side of reporting is something she looks forward to in her future career as a journalist.
Madeline Fetchiet

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