Memo: Teaching Assistant Classifications (Nov. 15, 2016)

Memorandum
Date: Nov. 15, 2016
From: Mike Vizsolyi, Employee Relations Manager, and Linda McKnight, Director Human Resources Advisory Services
To: Deans, Department Heads, Administrators, Graduate Directors (Vancouver campus)
CC: Eric Eich, Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President Academic Affairs; Lisa Castle, Vice-President, Human Resources; HR Advisors
Subject: Teaching Assistant Classifications – Action Required


During the last round of collective bargaining between the University and CUPE 2278 (the Union representing Teaching Assistants, Tutors, and Markers) the parties agreed to a Letter of Understanding committing to a process to revise the definitions and classifications of Markers and Teaching Assistants within the Collective Agreement. As part of the subsequent agreement reached between the Union and the University, we are communicating with those responsible for Markers or Teaching Assistants, as you will need to carefully review these changes and classify your Markers and Teaching Assistants appropriately. If you have TAs who fit the definition of Senior Teaching Assistant below, you may be required to retroactively adjust their classification to ensure they are paid appropriately.

Note: Further information regarding implementation of these classifications will be distributed next week to HR administrators.

As background, the definitions contained within the classifications provision of the Collective Agreement had not changed since the 1981-1982 Collective Agreement. Given the significant passage of time, the definitions were no longer entirely representative of the nature of the work performed by Teaching Assistants.

In certain cases, specifically with respect to Markers and Undergraduate Teaching Assistants, classifications are now differentiated on the basis of whether the position includes “substantial student contact”. The revised language of the Collective Agreement will define that phrase as follows:

“Substantial student contact” within the Classifications are those duties which involve direct interaction with students on more than an incidental basis. These duties typically include providing classroom teaching, conducting tutorial sessions, providing feedback on assignments and exams, holding office hours, or demonstrating procedures to students.

“Substantial student contact” does not include duties such as setting up labs, demonstrations, or classrooms; administrative duties; or class or material preparation notwithstanding that incidental or transactional contact with students may occur.

Below are the new classifications with an explanation of the material change:

Marker

A Marker is an employee appointed to a position which involves only marking without substantial student contact.

The old Marker classification was limited to marking duties that were objective only, such as true/false or multiple choice type examinations. The new classification is intended to capture any TA appointment that is marking only, and as long as instructional feedback is not being provided to the student as part of the marking assignment. This change applies to any new Marker appointment after January 1, 2017.

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant 2 (UTA 2)

A UTA 2 is an undergraduate student who is registered in a bachelor’s degree program at the University of British Columbia who performs Teaching Assistant duties without substantial student contact.

This is an updated version of the Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (“UTA”) role as it was historically defined. When the original classification language was written, UTAs were not required to perform substantive teaching duties. This classification applies to UTAs who perform work consistent with that definition.

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant 1 (UTA 1)

A UTA 1 is an undergraduate student who is registered in a bachelor’s degree program at the University of British Columbia who is required to perform Teaching Assistant duties with substantial student contact.

This a new classification intended to capture those UTAs who are assigned teaching duties as part of their position. Where a department requires a UTA to perform teaching duties as part of the assignment, they are to be classified as a UTA 1. This change applies to any new UTA appointment after January 1, 2017.

Graduate Teaching Assistant 2 (GTA 2)

A GTA 2 is a graduate student who holds a bachelor’s degree or is a graduate student who is registered in a master’s degree program at the University of British Columbia or who is a student who holds a bachelor’s degree in the posted or related discipline.

There is a minor change to the classification to include an ability for the University to recognize an undergraduate degree in a related discipline in classifying a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). This change applies to any new GTA appointment after January 1, 2017.

Graduate Teaching Assistant 1 (GTA 1)

A GTA 1 is a graduate student who is registered in a doctoral degree program at the University of British Columbia or who is a student who holds a masters or doctoral degree in the posted or related discipline.

As with the GTA 2, there is a minor change to the classification to include an ability for the University to recognize an undergraduate degree in a related discipline in classifying a GTA. This change applies to any new UTA appointment after January 1, 2017.

Senior Teaching Assistant (STA)

A Senior TA is a graduate student who is registered in a masters’ or doctoral program at the University of British Columbia and is required by the University to perform lead hand duties as a Teaching Assistant. These duties typically include coordinating other Teaching Assistants and providing guidance, technical knowledge, and subject matter expertise to other Teaching Assistants.

This is a new classification that provides the University with an ability to recognize a Teaching Assistant who is tasked with leadership responsibility within a cohort of TAs assigned to a course. This typically may occur in large section courses with an annual turnover of Teaching Assistants in which a TA who has previously taught this course is expected to provide guidance to new TAs or otherwise coordinate their activities. It is not a supervisory position; rather, it is an opportunity for the University to formally recognize the reality of a role performed by certain TAs. This classification may be retroactively applied to September 1, 2016, for any TA who a department feels is performing this role for which other recognition has not been provided. It is intended to formalize the recognition of this role for future appointments.


For clarification purposes, we remind you that Teaching Assistants may only teach courses if they are under the supervision of faculty. They do not have the full responsibility for the course (or a section of the course); the work undertaken remains the responsibility of the course instructor.

A full copy of the Memorandum of Agreement between the University and the Union, including wage schedule, is available here. If you have any questions, please contact your Human Resources Advisor or Human Resources Manager for additional information.