TA Resources

Information for Teaching Assistants

Teaching Philosophy

As part of the University of Wisconsin System, we are dedicated to follow the Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP), a national public advocacy and campus action initiative of the Association of American Colleges & Universities launched in 2005. LEAP champions the importance of a twenty-first-century liberal education—for individual students and for a nation dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality. LEAP responds to the changing demands of the twenty-first century—demands for more college-educated workers and more engaged and informed citizens. Today, and in the years to come, college graduates need higher levels of learning and knowledge as well as strong intellectual and practical skills to navigate this more demanding environment successfully and responsibly. To help students achieve this, we have the responsibility to aim for the Essential Learning Outcomes.


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, as amended – is a federal law that governs the privacy of student educational records, access to those records, and disclosure of information from them. These rules apply to TAs as graduate students but also to TAs as instructors. TAs need to be aware of what they can and cannot share about their students. Here are the key terms of FERPA.

Training Opportunities for Teaching Assistants

The Department of Integrative Biology hires graduate students across campus, some with an extensive background in biology and some with a more limited background. We have the obligation to prepare our TAs for the classroom. Each semester, we design workshops and training sessions to help both new and experienced TAs. These workshops are often required for all TAs. Each training session aims to form a sense of community amongst TAs and provides a venue for returning, experienced TAs to share their experiences with new TAs to prepare them for the classroom.

In addition to the training sessions the department offers, there are a few TA training events on campus. A list of all TA training sessions is provided below.

Graduate Assistants’ Equity Workshops: These workshops are REQUIRED for all graduate students who may be appointed as a TA for more than one semester. Information about the workshop schedules are updated each semester.

Communication B Training: If you are assigned to teach Introductory Biology 151 or 152, you will need to complete the Comm B training. Comm B training is offered by Writing Across the Curriculum. This training will prepare TAs for instruction in writing intensive courses such as Introductory Biology II (Biology/Botany/Zoology 152). Writing Across the Curriculum offers workshops to improve writing and can be very helpful to graduate students as well. This training session requires registration, and the session schedules will be updated/released before the semester begins.

College of Letters & Science TA Training: L&S TA training presents the perfect opportunity to meet with TAs from other departments and learn from L&S Teaching Fellow recipients of the current year. This TA training is mainly for new TAs, but experienced TAs are also encouraged to attend.

International Students and SPEAK Test Requirement: Per UW System policy, non-native English speakers are required to demonstrate proficiency in spoken English before they are assigned classroom duties as TAs. Your department will decide whether you, as an international student, need to take the SPEAK test and schedule it for you.

Professional Development Opportunities for Teaching Assistants

The UW Delta Program in Research, Teaching, and Learning promotes the development of future national faculty members in the natural and social sciences, engineering, and mathematics who are committed to implementing and advancing effective teaching practices for diverse student audiences as part of their professional careers. Graduate students with interest in excelling in teaching should get involved in UW Delta Program workshops and courses.

The Teaching and Learning Symposium is a great way to learn from other educators on campus how to make teaching a strong part of their professional career. This event takes place at the end of the spring semester and is free.

A Guide to Creating and Maintaining a Safe Learning and Work Environment

TA Benefits Information

There are several benefits to being a TA. All benefits listed below can be discussed with the Department of Integrative Biology Payroll and Benefits Specialist, Carol Cooley. Additional information regarding TA benefits can be found in the links provided below.

Graduate Student Benefit Information and Forms

Campus Resources

The following campus entities can help both TAs and undergraduates have a better college experience.

McBurney Disability Resource Center

Testing and Evaluation

Office of the Dean of Students

University Health Services

Division of Information Technology (DoIT)


William C. Burns and Lemuel A. Fraser Teaching Enrichment Scholarship

Description: This scholarship was established to aid the Department of Integrative Biology in its support of graduate teaching assistants. The fund was created in April 1994 with gifts from faculty, friends, corporations, and foundations on Professor William C. Burns’ retirement from UW-Madison. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Bill taught comparative anatomy and parasitology, as well as being department chair. In July 2007, Bill requested that the fund name be changed to include his long-time friend and colleague, Emeritus Zoology Professor Lemuel A. Fraser, who had just passed away. The scholarship provides up to $650 in tuition assistance for the upcoming fall semester.

Eligibility: Graduate students who have been teaching assistants for Zoology 101, 102, 151, and/or 152 during their first year (or two semesters) of teaching. Consideration will be given to students who demonstrate promise and excellence in the teaching of introductory courses.

Application process: Student applicants should submit a brief personal statement regarding their suitability for the scholarship, a copy of their UW-Madison student record (unofficial transcript), a CV, and at least one letter of support from a faculty or staff member of the Department of Integrative Biology by April 1. Personal statements should address how teaching any of the introductory courses has influenced your teaching style and impacted your graduate career. Applications should be emailed to Nazan Gillie as a single PDF file. Award decisions will be made by late April.

All TA-related questions should be directed to Nazan Gillie.