UMN REU TA expectations
Here are a few things we typically expect from you as an REU TA:
- REU TA assignments often come late, due to uncertainties about who is available as a TA. This is somewhat inevitable. It is always OK to check with the REU coordinator if you are unsure of your status.
- TAs will typically be assigned to two of the REU problem groups. Generally these assignments will be determined a week or so before the program begins. Check with the REU coordinator to find out your assignment, and so that you can discuss the problems and background with the relevant mentors.
- TAs should come to all REU meetings. Let the REU coordinator know if you think that you will need to be absent for short periods.
- During the first two weeks, TAs may be called upon to lead some HW help sessions and/or background sessions on various topics to help the students.
- During the 3rd and 4th week, TAs are expected to listen to student practice talks and give feedback before their 20-minute presentations, typically for two students.
The students should reach out to you for arranging the practice talk. However, if they haven't done so as it gets closer to their presentation date, remind them.
- TAs may be called upon to help in various ways with the climate of the REU, e.g., by helping the mentors and students run social events, professional development events, etc.
- As the students start grappling with their research, TAs are intended to be there as a sounding-board, a source for references, and sometimes a source of ideas and suggestions. You are not there to solve the problem for them! However, sometimes you may contribute important pieces of the puzzle, and end up collaborating with them to the point where co-authorship
on an ensusing paper makes sense. This happens frequently.
- TAs are always invited to meetings between mentors and the students in their problem group. Depending upon the mentor, they may not be required to attend all such meetings.
- TAs are expected to read drafts of REU reports and give editing and feedback of all kinds to the students. This responsibility is heaviest in weeks 6,7,8 of the REU.
- TAs should encourage an inclusive, supportive and welcoming environment for the group. If you see problems, friction, or climate issues developing in the groups of a non-confidential nature, discuss it with the REU coordinator.
- If you have ideas about how to improve the program, let the REU coordinator know!
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