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Course Support Staffing

Biology GSI Placement

The Undergraduate Office facilitates the hiring and placement of all graduate student instructors (GSIs) for the Biology, EEB, and MCDB courses in the fall, winter, spring, and summer terms.

The GSI application goes live twice per year: October 1 (for winter term) and February 15 (for fall, spring, and summer).  [Current placements and limited placement history can be found here.]

Expected timeline (Fall // Winter):

October 1 // February 15: Applications live
October 31 // March 15: Application deadline
November 1-7 // March 15-22 : Applications sent to faculty for preferences
November 15 // March 31: Faculty preference deadline
Before Thanksgiving // April 15*: Matches made and first round of offers issued to students (but is rolling as graduate student commitments and undergraduate enrollments change, some appointments are not finalized until a few days before classes).
*Matches/offers may be delayed in spring due to outstanding graduate program admissions offers.

Placement Priorities

  1. The Program in Biology must place all internal candidates (PhDs in EEB/MCDB graduate programs) and makes every effort to place other internal (Master's) or lab-related students.
  2. The office strives to make matches between instructor and student preference, but the need to place all internal students (among other possible conflicts) means this is not always possible.
  3. Be sure to tell the office if there are special considerations for your course(s) or GSI assignments that should be taken into account in the matching process.

Biology, EEB, MCDB Course GSI Policies

GSIs are covered under the most recent GEO Contract. GSIs and instructors are encouraged to bring any questions or issues to the Program in Biology Office (or the Program in Biology Director or EEB/MCDB Assoc. Chair) as soon as they arise!

The Program in Biology has drafted an internal document describing the procedures for GSI Medical Leave. As with all GSI issues, please contact the Program Manager or Faculty Director with any questions.

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA) Program

Undergraduate Teaching Assistants (UTAs) are highly qualified
undergraduate students who are given an opportunity to teach in a Program in Biology course. UTAs are responsible for leading discussion sections or labs and participating in all aspects of the teaching process. UTAs are usually assigned one section to teach and can receive credit or a stipend for the semester, depending on their previous teaching experience. UTAs benefit from the experience by deepening their understanding of biology concepts and the process of science, while gaining valuable leadership experience and improving their confidence.

UTAs are selected for designated fall and winter term courses, and applications are accepted twice per year (in October for winter term and in March for fall). Applicants should be Juniors or Seniors with a 3.3 GPA or better.

  1. Online applications are opened (see the Program in Biology website) and the availability of positions is publicized to students (via emails and hardcopy flyers).
  2. Student applicants provide data regarding: (1) course preference, (2) experience with subject matter, (3) teaching experience, and (4) reasons for wanting to participate. They also upload resumes, transcripts, and any other supplementary data they would like to include.
  3. Once the applications close, applicant information is forwarded to the relevant instructors who make decisions for their courses and communicate these to the Undergraduate Office. (Instructors/coordinators may contact applicants for additional information and/or interviews.)
  4. Chosen UTAs are contacted by the Undergraduate Office to discuss paperwork, training and/or pay (see below).

First-time UTAs receive college (non-major) credit for their participation. Each first-time UTA registers for a credit-based course (EEB 302 or MCDB 412) associated with the instructor of the course they will be teaching. Some UTAs may be encouraged or required to participate in a pedagogy course specifically geared toward UTAs (as available). Returning UTAs may be paid a stipend, which will be arranged through the Undergraduate Office (Some returning UTAs are also asked to participate in continued training.)

UTA duties include attending lectures and weekly prep sessions or meetings. UTAs may run a discussion or lab section (administering quizzes, leading discussions/labs, etc.) and may be involved in grading quizzes, reports, and/or exam questions. UTAs are supervised by the instructor, coordinator, and/or graduate student mentor of the course.

The point of contact for the program is the Program Manager in the Program in Biology Student Services Office.

Active Learning Assistants (ALAs)

Many courses are transitioning to active learning formats to improve student learning and engagement. Even large enrollment courses are doing more in-class group work and many classes have significant problem-solving components.  To help facilitate the introduction of active learning to our classes, the Program in Biology supports an Active Learning Assistant (ALA) Program through which undergraduate students may receive credit for supporting a course.

Selected students enroll in MCDB/EEB 301 (2 cr.) and earn their credit by assisting the instructors in the target class, actively facilitating group work and other activities planned by the instructor.  Students selected for this program have usually completed the target course successfully and are mature upper-level undergraduates in a biological sciences major.  Contact the Program in Biology Manager for more information.

Grader/Proctor Requests

Requests for graders and proctors can be made for courses in which GSIs are not assigned. Typically, graders are hired to assist with grading of written assignments and administrative paperwork for large courses, for courses with a significant writing burden, or courses with unusually demanding instructional requirements and needs. Proctors may be requested if more than one room is needed for exams for a large enrollment course that does not have assigned GSIs.

Faculty who wish to hire Graders or Proctors should submit a request in writing to the Program in Biology Steering Committee.

The request must include:

  1. Course number and name,
  2. Expected enrollment,
  3. Number of hours needed (total throughout the term for the class), and
  4. A justification of why the assistance is needed and what the people will be doing.

All graders and proctors must be current undergraduate or graduate students and may not be studying on a student visa (J-1 or F-1). The students’ names and UMIDs should be submitted with the request, if possible.

The Program in Biology Steering Committee must review and approve all requests prior to faculty offers to prospective employees. Thus, requests must be received a minimum of TWO weeks in advance of when the support is needed. Once approved, the appropriate Associate Chair for Undergraduate Curriculum or the Manager of the Program in Biology will notify Biology Program HR Staff of the approval and relevant details, including an overall funding total. Due to limited funding, all Graders and Proctors are paid a standard (non-negotiable) hourly rate.  For more information on this policy or to submit a request for a grader or proctor, please contact the Program Manager of the Program in Biology.