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UGTA Resources for Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate Teaching Assistants (UGTAs) provide instructional support for undergraduate courses. (UGTAs may also be called "peer mentors" or "learning assistants".) As near-peers, UGTAs are a valuable part of many CNS course teaching teams, as they can provide supportive, relatable academic assistance for students. Serving as a UGTA can be a great way to build your resume and gain valuable leadership experience, all while helping other students succeed and thrive in their CNS coursework.


How do I find a UGTA position?

The following table gives contact information or websites for information about how to apply to become a UGTA for one of the CNS departments. 

Department Contact / Website
Astronomy email: studentinfo@astro.as.utexas.edu 
Biology / Biochemistry / Neuro                    email: biology@austin.utexas.edu or Online Application 
Chemistry email: dnestler@cm.utexas.edu or Chemistry PLA Program 
Computer Science Coming soon! 
Human Development Coming soon! 
Mathematics Coming soon! 
Marine Science email: heather.herrick@austin.utexas.edu 
Physics email: ugaffairs@physics.utexas.edu 
FRI Coming soon! 

Most departments look for UGTAs who have taken multiple courses in the discipline and received high grades. In addition, they look for students who are passionate about helping others learn and who demonstrate great communication skills. 

In addition to applying via the processes above, you can let particular faculty who teach courses with UGTAs know that you are interested in the position. You should be polite and professional with such contacts and provide details about why you would be a standout UGTA. If you did particularly well in a course with UGTAs, it can be very effective to reach out to that faculty member and let them know your interest in serving as a UGTA. 

How do I learn how to be a UGTA?

All CNS UGTAs are required to complete some sort of basic training. Depending on the department and assigned course, this may be a single workshop offered by TIDES or the department or a semester-long training course. Details about the training requirements will be provided when you are offered a UGTA position. 

Upcoming TIDES TA Training - Spring 2021 - Focus on Remote Learning: 

  • TIDES will offer teaching assistant training for new TAs and for any TA who wants to learn more about supporting online learning.
  • Self-paced resources are available in a four-part Canvas course. To access the resources, SELF-ENROLL in the Canvas course.
  • The training materials consist of
    • Part 1: Self-paced essentials required for new TAs
    • Part 2: A template for use during a conversation about expectations with the course instructor
    • Part 3: Pick-and-choose, self-paced, specialized training and practice
    • Part 4: One two-hour synchronous Zoom interactive session required for new TAs (participants will get their questions answered and role-play how to handle difficult situations). Zoom links are in the Canvas site. Meetings are currently scheduled:
      • January 14th, 2021, 3-5pm
      • January 20th, 2021, 3-5pm
      • January 26th, 2021, (If needed; time TBD)

If you are interested in a reading to get you started thinking about the teaching assistant role, check out the following guide: "The Effective Teaching Assistant".

What would I do as a UGTA?

When hired, your faculty instructor would provide you details on the specific duties for your UGTA assignment. The following is a list of the types of responsibilities that CNS UGTAs might be charged with:

  • Facilitate class activities (walk around, answer questions, check-in with groups, distribute supplies, etc.)
  • Grade assignments 
  • Hold office hours
  • Run discussion section (under the direct supervision of the instructor of record)
  • Run laboratory section (under the direct supervision of the instructor of record)
  • Run supplementary review sessions 
  • Prepare review guides or supplementary problem sets
  • Prepare and set-up laboratory supplies
  • Prepare instructional materials and make copies
  • Proctor (under the direct supervision of the instructor of record)
  • Drive vehicles for field courses

How am I compensated for serving as a UGTA?

Most CNS UGTAs are paid positions. There are some opportunities to serve as a UGTA for course credit in order to gain leadership skills. Students serving as a UGTA for credit are expected to have duties corresponding to defined learning outcomes aimed at personal professional development. 

What do I do if I have a problem with my faculty supervisor while serving as a UGTA?

If you are unable to resolve your problem with your supervisor directly, then you should reach out to the contact person for your UGTA appointment (found on the table at the top of this page). As an employee of UT Austin, you have the right to be treated fairly and with dignity and respect. 

 What university resources are available to help support students in my course?

The following are some great resources for you to know about so that you might appropriately direct the students in your course to these support offerings. 

  • Sanger Learning Center: If a student needs tutoring or ideas for improving their study strategies, tell them to visit the Sanger Learning Center in Jester (JES A332). They are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The Learning Center has peer academic coaches, one-on-one and group tutoring, and a variety of workshops.  They also provide writing services to graduate students!  Visit their website:  http://ugs.utexas.edu/slc.
  • University Writing Center: If a student would like help revising a paper or report, let them know about the University Writing Center. A consultant at the UWC will not edit or proofread a student’s paper. Instead, they ‘teach students how to revise, edit, and proofread their own work more accurately and efficiently.’  Students can schedule a one-on-one consultation at http://uwc.utexas.edu/.