1: Logistics and Ethics

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1 Logistics

1.1 Potential Issues

2 Ethics, the don’t do this part

It is important to know some behaviors to avoid and some issues related to fairness and legality. We discuss the following:

2.1 Equity of Access

Principle: all students deserve equal access to learning resources; TAs are one such learning resource.

2.1.1 Only TA when on the clock.

2.1.2 Handling raised hands

When responding to raised hands in a classroom or lab, people usually try to handle them in order but realistically that is not feasible if the number of hands is more than two or three. If you still try,

Instead, you should

Additionally, some students come from a culture where a raised hand is a public admission of inadequacy, while others come from a culture where a raised hand is what all good students have. Avoiding raised hands is an asset in providing equitable access to all students.

2.1.3 Equity reviews

As you TA, your perspective and understanding will refine and you’ll adopt various habits and patterns. It is worth pausing and asking is my method conducive to equitable access? I advise doing this about once a month for your first semester, trying to identify ways you could be more fair and equitable in how you allocate your help.

2.2 Conflict of Interest


A federal law, FERPA makes sharing grades with persons other than course staff, university administration, and the graded student illegal.

2.4 Mandatory Reporting

It is often the case that there are other regulations that apply to TAs. At UVa, we discuss the following:

3 Ethics, the what ought to be part

One philosophical definition of ethics is the study of what ought to be. What ought a TA to be?

The discussion usually includes some form of the following observation: Some parts of TAing you learn by doing; we’ll do our best to prepare you, but you won’t understand the full implications until you have seen what we’re talking about first-hand.