The Student Academic Appointee Affairs Committee of the Bloomington Faculty Council recommends that all departments and schools on campus adhere to the following guidelines regarding the appointment of graduate student instructors (associate instructors, graders, lab assistants, etc).
- Units should stipulate and adhere to a timetable for notifying students of their appointment or reappointment. The Handbook for Student Academic Appointees specifies that “[f]or appointments expiring at the end of the spring semester, the school or department shall make every effort to send out written notices on or before June 1, concerning the status of reappointment.” In order to insure that all appointees with teaching responsibilities have an adequate amount of preparation time, written notification concerning the status of appointment or reappointment (and, where possible, the specific duties of the appointment) should normally be given no later than 15 days before those responsibilities are to begin.
- All graduate student instructors should be issued a letter of appointment, which clearly specifies the average number of work hours per week (and the percentage of FTE) that the position carries, as well as the benefits for which the instructor is eligible. Furthermore, every graduate student instructor should receive a written description of the job. In units where assignments are consistent across courses, appointees would simply receive a standard description of the category (e.g., grader or lab assistant). Insofar as particular categories of appointment entail different work loads in different courses (e.g., grader in a large lecture course versus a smaller discussion section), appointees should receive a description of their duties in the specific course, or courses to which they are assigned.
- All departments and schools should have available for routine distribution to all entering graduate students a statement of the criteria for appointment, reappointment and course assignments (especially the relation between expertise, seniority, and teaching opportunities). Departments and schools that rank applicants for teaching positions should disclose to any applicant her position in the rankings on request, as well as a brief explanation of how that ranking was achieved.
- All graduate student instructors should have access to essential resources necessary to effective communication with their students and to the preparation of class materials (e.g., mailboxes, computing facilities, duplication).
- Graduate students deemed sufficiently capable to function independently in the classroom, without direct supervision by a faculty member, should have authority to assign grades and to formulate class policies in consonance with established curricular guidelines.
- Graduate student instructors should be the instructor of record teaching courses for graduate credit only under exceptional circumstances.
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