Teaching Assistant Resources

Teaching Assistants play an important role in the department. They instruct classes, hold office hours,  and grade assignments, along with other duties. All Ph.D. students are required to TA for two semesters during their second year. 

If this is your first time TA-ing, you may have a lot of questions about what you should be doing. If you've TA'd before, you may want a reminder of important policies and useful tips. The purpose of this page is for Duke Economics Teaching Assistants to have a useful resource for questions about TA-ing. 

As always, feel free to reach out to EcoTeach staff with any questions or concerns you might have throughout your TA experience.

Professor Adam Rosen
Director of Graduate Studies
Christyn Klinck
Graduate Studies Program Coordinator
Taylor Scisco
Ph.D. Program Assistant

Required Training

All Graduate TA’s are required to complete a two-part training sequence:

  1. Duke University's TA Training Modules, available through Coursera.
  2. Economics Department TA Training Workshop, taught by a current Ph.D. student.

Following completion of these two trainings you will be asked submit confirmation to the Ph.D. DGSA.

Part One: Duke TA Training Modules (Coursera)

This five-unit course will teach you the basics of:

  • FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
  • DukeReach: Supporting Students in Distress
  • Title IX Sexual Misconduct: Reporting is Supporting
  • Students Disability Access Office: A One-Stop Shop for Accessibility Needs
  • Promoting Academic Integrity: The Duke Community Standard in Action

To complete the training, follow these steps:

  1. Go to: https://www.coursera.org/programs/duke-university-courses-gp9dy?authProvider=duke
  2. Click "Join for Free" and then "Log in with Duke University."
  3. Log in with your NetID.
  4. Enter this URL https://www.coursera.org/learn/duke-ta-training/home/welcome or search "Duke TA Training", then choose "Enroll for Free."
  5. Proceed with watching the five modules, exploring the supplemental readings (or make note of them), and then completing the quiz at the end.
  6. After successfully passing the final evaluation of the course, you will receive a certificate of completion. Download the certificate and save it for reference.

For reference, links to more information about each of these topics are in the drop-down menu below.

Part Two: Economics Department TA Training Workshop

The departmental training workshop is usually held in early August before the fall semester begins. At this workshop you will learn about the logistics of being a TA (such as room reservations) and hear tips and tricks from other students who have worked as TA's for the department.

In July of the summer before you TA, you will receive an email with details about the workshop from the instructor. Pay attention to this email and stay in touch with the instructor about your attendance.

After completing the workshop, download and sign the TA Training Acknowledgement statement and save it for reference.


Completion Statement and Survey

Following completion of these two trainings, please confirm completion by submitting both the Coursera Certificate and the TA Training Acknowledgement Statement as part of this TA Training Completion survey.

Duke Community Standard

The Duke Community Standard (DCS) stresses the commitment that students share with all members of the community to enhance the climate for honesty, fairness, respect, and accountability at Duke University. Students affirm their commitment to foster this climate by signing a pledge that includes taking constructive action if they witness or know about behavior they perceive to be inconsistent with the DCS, which may include violation of university policies. Although there are no disciplinary sanctions associated with the failure to act, students are nonetheless expected to take action to do something as a responsibility of membership in the Duke community.

Resource from TA training:


Advice from former HTAs:

Duke Learning Innovation: Resources for those teaching courses at Duke, with a focus on remote instruction. 

Duke Graduate School Certificate in College Teaching: A year-long certificate program run by the Graduate School with the goal of preparing graduate students to teach in higher education.

Teaching Resources from the Certificate in College Teaching Program:  Resources for students from the Certificate in College Teaching program, available even if you aren’t enrolled in the CCT program. Some resources are specific to teaching during the pandemic.

How do I make people engage if I teach online?

While there is not a short answer to this question, we encourage you to consider the training courses available from the Graduate School.  (See: https://gradschool.duke.edu/professional-development/programs) Meanwhile, here are a few tips:

  • It is helpful to make students talk from the very beginning of the class. Once they speak to the whole group—even if it is just to answer a short question—they will be more likely to speak up again to ask their own questions and participate.
  • Ask students many questions, more than usual to make up for the "distance."
  • Ask students to turn on their cameras; this discourages them from zooming out (no pun intended).
  • Use breakout rooms to keep students engaged. Drop into those rooms to check on discussions.
  • Stand up while you are teaching--your energy level as well as the students' will increase.

What should I expect Duke undergrads to be like? How do I motivate them?

It has been observed by some that usually 80% of the class at Duke really wants to learn, 30% is excellent in math, 50% is capable of learning anything. Around 20% will be struggling and TAs will dedicate a lot of attention to them.

Where do my responsibilities end? What issues should I delegate to the professor? 

Discuss your specific duties with the professor of the course, and learn their expectations for you. It never hurts to communicate more often if you are uncertain, and try help in any case.

What if someone is using me in my office hours as a private tutor?

If no one else is in your office hours, then you should to try help the student. If others are part of the session or waiting for your time, explain that you can spend a only a certain number of minutes more, and then move on to the next student’s questions. If the student has questions not related to the subject it is fine to tell them that that is outside of the scope of the office hours. Students can find additional Economics tutoring resources on our department’s website. 

Do I engage in lengthy discussions in emails with the students?

You are not expected to do so, but if you want to you can. It is generally not the most efficient way of communication in teaching. You are likely better off to point students to office hours and talk about the questions in person.

Where can I get blue books for exams?

Blue books can be picked up from the EcoTeach Center, which keeps a few on hand for courses which use them. However, we encourage instructors and TA's to use regular paper instead, or lined 8.5"x11" paper. EcoTeach can provide the paper and loan you staplers for the exam. Please send an email 3 business days in advance of the exam so that we can be sure to have the supplies - whether blue books, lined paper, or regular paper - available for you to pick up.

For HTA's and TA's who use Gradescope to grade exams, a good answer sheet will expedite the process greatly. You may want to take the time to design an answer sheet to be used with Gradescope instead of using blue books.

How can I print exams and tests?

We have resources to assist you and that you can use yourself! Please contact EcoTeach staff or the TA Director for more information about printing.

How do I reserve a room?

You can make room requests using the 25Live scheduling system. You will need your netID and password to log in. Additional information will be provided during TA training. You can also consult with the TA Director or EcoTeach staff.

  1. FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act: Duke's policies and procedures
  2. DukeReach: Resource for helping students in distress
  3. Title IX Sexual Misconduct: What it is, how to help
  4. Student Disability Access Office: Helping students with accommodations and accessibility
  5. Promoting Academic Integrity