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Lecturer (SA) appointments in L&S: Supervision, Support, Evaluation
This document provides guidance to departments on how to effectively supervise and support graduate assistants with the title Lecturer (SA), sometimes called LSAs.
LSAs are graduate students who will teach a course in place of faculty or instructional academic staff. They are hired with the title “Lecturer (SA),” which indicates that they are in a student assistant category. For policies related to hiring LSAs, please refer to the KB: Lecturer (SA) appointments in L&S.
For many LSAs, the position is an important opportunity to gain and sharpen skills of independent teaching on the way to a career in academia. It is essential that departments set clear expectations and provide comprehensive and organized support and guidance to their LSAs; such guidance helpss LSAs stay on track in all their commitments and helps to ensure a quality learning experience for enrolled students.
This document outlines a number of recommendations and best practices for supervising and supporting LSAs. We recommend that departments develop and make widely known their own detailed policies for the hiring, supervision, and evaluation of LSAs.
Typically, LSAs are expected to:
- Set the course syllabus and class policies,
- Prepare lecture material and deliver the lectures,
- Prepare and assign assignments,
- Prepare and administer exams and final projects,
- Create rubrics for grading assessments, supervise grading and participate in grading
- Supervise any Teaching Assistants (TAs) and graders (see below),
- Hold office hours and respond to students’ communications,
- Troubleshoot special cases,
- Determine, or, for LSAs whose course has TAs, confirm final grades for the class.
Supervision and Guidance of LSAs
- A faculty or instructional staff member who has extensive knowledge of the course, the learning goals for its students, and the effort required to teach it should be designated as a supervisor and mentor.
- If needed or available, someone else within the department that serves as an instructional resource may also be part of the supervising team (e.g., faculty/staff who teach extensively in a similar class format, pedagogy experts, those with expertise in classroom technology, etc.).
- Supervisor(s) should meet with LSA before instruction begins to:
- establish and reach a shared understanding of workload expectations,
- provide course related material (see below) and guidance, and
- provide both general and department-specific guidance about the role of a lecturer and the responsibilities of supervising TA(s), if any are assigned to the class (see below).
- During the semester, supervisor(s) should:
- meet regularly to ensure expectations are met and to answer any questions and concerns the LSA may have. They should make themselves available to the LSA in a proactive fashion to offer help and guidance.
- make prior arrangements to observe the LSA’s teaching. It is strongly encouraged that the doctoral advisor of the LSA makes a classroom observation as well, both to assist in writing letters of recommendation and to provide an additional layer of oversight to the appointment.
- At the end of the semester, supervisor(s) should:
- ensure grades have been submitted,
- make arrangements for the resolution of Incomplete grades, if any are assigned, and
- complete an evaluation of the LSA per the normal departmental process for evaluation of short term instructional staff. See: L&S Policy for Evaluating Short-Term Instructional Academic Staff
Instructional Guidance and Course Material
It is helpful to make access to course materials and instructional guidance as comprehensive, organized, direct and clear as possible. In doing so, the department can guide and support the graduate students, so they spend time and effort efficiently and strategically. Supervisors should provide:
- Examples of course syllabi, schedules of lectures, grading schemes, assignments, previous exams, etc., and guidance on their deployment.
- Assistance with and training in setting up a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Canvas.
- Guidance on responding to student work, be it exams or papers.
- Assistance and guidance with administrative tasks such as:
- Course rosters
- Room reservations
- Access to AV equipment
- Copying handouts
- Guidance on expectations for instructors regarding FERPA, sexual harassment policies, consensual relationship policies, Title IX, etc.
- Guidance on the formal accommodation process, for an accommodation that might be needed by the instructor as well as any that might be brought by students in the class via the McBurney Center.
- Assistance and guidance for interactions with special students, athletes, auditors, or students of special concern.
- Guidance for handling particularly challenging or controversial course content and dealing with disruptive or challenging students.
- Assistance and guidance on creating a positive classroom environment that is welcoming to all students and promotes engagement and active learning.
LSAs Supervising TAs
LSAs are, at times, tasked with the supervision of TAs in their classes. This arrangement makes close departmental supervision even more critical. Expectations should be clearly communicated to both the LSA and TAs.
The following are recommended best practices to support LSAs in this role:
- Assign experienced TAs to work with LSAs.
- The LSA supervisor should clearly communicate with the LSAs and TAs on workload expectations, supervisory structure, and course responsibilities.
- Regular weekly course meetings and communications between LSAs and TAs are recommended, with discussion focused on housekeeping items such as weekly tasks, arrangement for exams, and effective pedagogy, grading alignment across sections, and course trouble-shooting.
- LSAs should visit course TAs’ classrooms to observe classroom dynamics, confirm that expectations are being met, and evaluate TA performance. LSAs should be given guidance on how best to provide feedback to TAs under their supervision, and any department resources on TA evaluation (e.g. rubrics) should be shared with the LSAs.
Contact for L&S
Lynne Prost, Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Academic Affairs