Instructional Assistantship Information
The History Department offers Instructional Assistantships to help graduate students to fund their educations while furthering their professional development. Selected based on written applications, Instructional Assistants (IAs) provide vital support for the History Department’s teaching of undergraduate General Education courses. IAs work closely with faculty members to facilitate student learning, including by attending lectures, grading student work, and holding office hours.
Instructional Assistants receive a monthly stipend and may qualify for in-state tuition and health insurance. At the same time, they gain important teaching and mentoring expertise that complements their graduate coursework. Instructional Assistants collaborate with History Department faculty and observe and participate in the teaching of history. Throughout the semester, Instructional Assistants witness firsthand the ways in which experienced educators present historical arguments and model historical analysis for an undergraduate audience. Faculty may also invite Instructional Assistants to offer guest lectures based on their thesis research; these guest lectures offer valuable practice in synthesizing one’s research for a new audience. Lastly, the IA program is a hub of intellectual community within the Graduate Program. Instructional Assistants receive History Department office space and collaborate with one another as they work to support undergraduate students. Overall, while Instructional Assistantships are particularly valuable to graduate students seeking to teach history in secondary or undergraduate classrooms, alums routinely describe these positions as a formative component of their education.
How do I apply to become an IA?
Please fill out the online application. While positions are open until filled, we recommend applying by May 15 for the fall semester, by November 15 for the spring semester, and by April 15 for summer sessions.
Please note that this application must be completed in one sitting. It first contains questions about biographical information and your eligibility to become an instructional assistant. The application then contains substantive questions regarding your grades in graduate coursework thus far and your teaching experience, and a personal statement of roughly 500 words concerning "your reasons for wanting to become an IA and and how you envision your work as an IA fitting into your graduate education."
Which history department courses have IAs?
The History Department typically hires IAs for US History to 1877 (HIST1310), US History from 1877 (HIST1320), as well as Texas History (HIST3372).
Do I need prior experience in US History in order to become an IA?
Prior experience in US History is useful but not required in order to become an IA. Graduate students specializing in all fields of history have served as IAs, as have students from related departments within and beyond the College of Liberal Arts.
What is the time commitment associated with being an IA?
Serving as an IA is a part-time job for which students are hired for 20 hours per week. In practice, the time commitment associated with being an IA varies across the semester. It is lighter during some weeks, and more significant during weeks when IAs are grading major assignments.
To assist new IAs in adapting to this workload, HIST5301: Instructional Methods includes discussion of grading and time management. Instructors also routinely discuss grading strategies with their IAs. Many IAs report becoming more efficient graders as the semester progresses.
What are the responsibilities of a History IA?
The basic IA responsibilities are as follows:
- Attending twice-weekly lectures for the class for which you are grading. Attending lectures prepares you to grade student work and helps make you visible and accessible to students. For in-person classes, IAs are expected to attend lectures in person. For synchronous online classes, IAs are expected to be logged into Zoom and present during lectures. In most courses, IAs help take attendance during each class meeting.
- Hold office hours twice per week, for one hour per session. IAs typically receive office space in Taylor-Murphy in which to hold their office hours. Office hours can be adapted to virtual office hours when both the IA and the instructor agree that in-person office hours are not routinely necessary.
- Grading assignments for approximately 110 students. While assignments vary across different course sections, typical grading responsibilities include 3-4 exams and perhaps a supplemental writing assignment. IAs typically have 10-14 days to return graded work during the semester. Final exams must often be graded within a shorter timeframe to facilitate submission of final grades.
- Promptly communicating with the instructor and with students. As an IA, you are part of a team that is working to facilitate student learning. IAs typically meet regularly with instructors and should communicate with their instructors as issues arise. In addition, IAs are expected to respond promptly to student emails, and to involve the instructor in any conversations that are beyond the scope of an IA’s responsibilities.
What is the Liddle Fellows Program, and how do Liddle Fellows’ responsibilities differ from typical IA responsibilities?
Liddle Fellows take on expanded teaching responsibilities and receive an additional stipend. The positions are typically filled by students with prior IA experience.
US History courses with Liddle Fellows meet three times each week. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the professor meets with all 120 students. On Fridays, students attend small discussion sections facilitated by Liddle Fellows. Using professor-assigned documents, Liddle Fellows will prepare discussion and relevant homework exercises and assign a portion (decided by the professor) of the course grade based on Friday meetings with the students. Liddle Fellows meet regularly with the professor to discuss students’ progress in the course and expectations for coming weeks.
Liddle Fellowships are awarded via a separate application process. Please contact the Liddle Fellows Program Coordinator, Dr. Ellen Tillman, for more information.
Who is eligible to become an IA for the History Department?
IAs are graduate students from the History Department and other related departments. IAs must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Regular admission: IAs must have received regular—as opposed to conditional—admission to their graduate programs.
- Enrolled in full course load:
- During the semester in which they are employed, IAs are required to enroll in 9 hours of coursework, which may include thesis work.
- Good academic standing: IAs must be in good academic standing. In other words, they must not have received a grade of C or lower in any of their graduate courses.
- Policy for incompletes:
- No student with more than one incomplete grade at the start of the spring semester will be able to retain their assistantship for that semester.
- No second-year student with an incomplete grade at the beginning of the fall semester will be eligible for an assistantship that semester.
I’ll be a first-time IA. What else do I need to know?
During the first semester in which they hold an assistantship, students must enroll in HIST5301: Instructional Methods Practicum for History Assistants. This course provides training for Instructional Assistants, including discussion of pedagogy, grading, time management, and common issues encountered during the semester.
Although HIST5301 will count toward the 9-hour load, it will not count as credit toward the degree. The university pays the tuition for this course. In consultation with the IA Coordinator or the Director of Graduate Studies, students may consider enrolling only in two other courses during the semester in which they begin their instructional assistantship, as the practicum counts for the remaining 3 credit hours.
I’d like to work with a specific professor or serve as an IA for a course that meets during a specific time slot. Is this possible?
You will have an opportunity to indicate your preferences on the application. Please note that IA assignments are based on departmental needs, so we may not be able to honor all preferences.
Who can I contact if I have additional questions?
Please contact the incoming Instructional Assistant Coordinator, Dr. Sara Damiano, or the History Department’s Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. José Carlos de la Puente.