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. The purpose of this page is for Duke Economics Teaching Assistants to have a reference page for any 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 Federico Bugni
Director of Graduate Studies
Graduate Studies Program Coordinator
Ph.D. Program Assistant
All Graduate TA’s are required to complete the trainings and statements below. Please complete the TA Training Acknowledgement statement and submit it by email to the Ph.D. DGSA.
FERPA Training Information
The department requests that you complete a short tutorial on FERPA, the Family Education Rights Privacy Act. This act guarantees privacy for all students while they are enrolled in school. As TAs and HTAs you will have access to student information that will need to be treated with discretion. We want to make sure you understand what kind of information you can share, and more importantly what you cannot share.
Discrimination and Harassment Compliance Training
In order to promote a respectful and productive work environment, harassment of any kind is not acceptable at Duke and Duke Economics. Duke also prohibits harassment and discrimination based upon an individual's age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. New staff (including TAs) are required to complete certain training and certify understanding of policies. Many of these requirements stem from federal or state regulations that apply to all educational, research and patient-care institutions.
The training is offered online through Duke’s Learning Management System, which is accessible through the MyCareer section of the Duke@Work self-service website.
Instructions for both the FERPA training and Discrimination and Harassment training are below:
The trainings are short (20 minutes or less, depending on how fast you read), and you can do it on your own time from your own computer.
- Log in to Duke’s Learning Management System (LMS). If the link doesn’t work, you can get to the LMS from your Duke@Work account, under MyInfo > My Career > My Learning.
- Search for “FERPA Tutorial" or "Discrimination and Harassment training."
- Register for the tutorial.
- Complete the tutorials.
- Note the date of completion and include it on the TA Training Acknowledgement statement to send to Chelsea Fillippa.
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.
Rubric (for faculty supervisor to complete)
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.
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.