Teaching Assistantships (GAT) in the Department of Chemistry

Graduate student assistantships in the Department of Chemistry (including hours allocation and pay) are governed by the GSA Collective Agreement. Most students in Chemistry will have a teaching assignment (Graduate Assistantship, Teaching: GAT) in Fall and Winter terms. TAships in Spring courses are voluntary.

As a new graduate student, you will receive some training in basic teaching skills and learn more about teaching assignments in the TATM program during your first year.

Teaching can also be done by Reader-Demonstrators – senior undergraduate students or recent MSc or PhD graduates who are providing the same services as a TA but are hired as staff. If you are interested in working as a Reader-Demonstrator, email sci.grad@ucalgary.ca to add your name to the list. Your supervisor will need to approve any teaching you plan to do.

Structure of a TAship

TA assignments typically run Sept-Dec and Jan-Apr. The standard contract lasts from the first day of Block Week to the last day of the exam period, although exceptions can be made for unusual course schedules or mid-term changes to teaching assignments.

Check the Academic calendar before planning any time away from campus while you hold a TAship –any absences during that time must be approved by your TA supervisor in addition to your research supervisor.

In first year, most new graduate students are placed in First-Year or Introductory Organic courses (CHEM 201/203/209/351). In the spring, the Graduate Coordinator will ask you to submit your preferences for your next year’s TA assignment. Course assignments are usually published for Fall and Winter in mid-August, and revised for Winter term in December. Spring term GATs are decided in April.

Although the GSA contract allows for other loads, Chemistry only uses “full” or “half” units:

“Full” Assignment (1.0 GAT):

  • Approximately 13 weeks in Fall or Winter term, 7 weeks in Spring
  • ~12- 17h / week – duties during Block Week and the Exam Period may vary.

“Half” Assignment (0.5 GAT):

  • Approximately 13 weeks in Fall or Winter term, 7  weeks in Spring
  • ~6-9h / week – duties during Block Week and the Exam Period may vary.

Most students will work 1.5 GAT total during the academic year (1.0 in one term and 0.5 in the other). Students who hold a major scholarship will typically teach less.

In your TA duties, you will typically be expected to:

  • Supervise laboratory or tutorial activities for undergraduate classes – in person or online
  • Provide support to the instructor during lecture times
  • Attend regular training meetings
  • Hold “office hours” or answer student questions by email
  • Grade lab reports or assignments during term
  • Invigilate (supervise) midterm and final examinations – these may be on evenings or Saturdays
  • Grade midterm and final examinations

Your course coordinator will advise you of your duties once you know your TA assignment, and provide you with a breakdown of your expected hours.

Research Assistantships (GAR)

In the summer (non teaching) term, the Department typically offers a Graduate Assistantship, Research (GAR) to students who do not hold major scholarships, to balance the lack of a teaching income.