Teaching Responsibilities & Grading

Prior to the beginning of the quarter in which you are a GSI, you must meet with the course instructor to agree on your role in the course. To facilitate this, the department has a course planning form that you and the instructor will fill out. On this form the instructor will indicate the tasks you are expected to perform as well as the time that you will probably devote to the course. This form will be signed by you, the instructor, and turned in to the Student Affairs Office by the end of the first week of the quarter.

At the end of the quarter you will review the form with the instructor, to indicate the actual tasks and time spent, and again it will be signed and turned in to Student Affairs. Credit for satisfying the teaching requirement cannot be granted until the form is received by Student Affairs.

The course instructor will have specific information on what is expected of a GSI for that particular class. Some examples of duties you may be asked to perform and some guidelines are given in the Teaching and Grading Section.


Running tutorial sections: In addition to being fully prepared for scheduled meetings, GSIs should arrive punctually and be available to the students during the entire period, which is normally 50 minutes. A GSI may not cancel a section. There are occasions when it is unavoidable for a GSI to miss a section meeting due to a conflict with a planned event, such as a conference or trip. It is always the responsibility of the GSI to notify the instructor in this event and to arrange for another GSI to cover the class.

Lecture attendance: GSIs are expected to attend all lectures unless the instructor gives specific permission for an absence, or explicitly states that lecture attendance is not required.

Office Hours: GSIs are required to hold office hours every week to assist students in understanding the subject matter of the course. Office hours have to be held in an area that assures that course related concerns of a student, such as grades, can be privately discussed.

GSI meetings: GSI meetings serve several important functions: they provide time for the GSI to give the instructor comments concerning the course; in meeting with the instructor, the GSI learns more about the course philosophy and structure; the GSI can clarify questions on the course material. Attendance at GSI meetings scheduled by the instructor is mandatory. Since part of the purpose of these meetings is to educate the GSI, it is important that GSIs use this opportunity to ask questions about the course material or any matters of instruction.

Review sessions: Prior to midterm and final examination times, GSIs are often asked by the instructor to hold review sessions in addition to regular sections and office hours. Room reservations for these sessions must be scheduled by the GSI.

Experimental labs: Effective teaching of a lab class mandates that GSIs are able to perform all assigned lab experiments and understand them completely. They must also be fully versed and trained in all relevant laboratory safety procedures and regulations. To assure this, instructors may require the GSIs to practice the experiment in a pre-lab session before the beginning of the class. The GSI normally participates in lab set up, and grading lab reports. Effective laboratory instruction is among the most challenging but also rewarding of teaching experiences.

Computer lab sections: Effective teaching of computer lab requires that the GSI understand the programming assignment completely. To assure this, instructors may require the GSIs to write sample programs before the beginning of the lab. The GSI may also participate in grading computer programs. At present the bioengineering department does not hold any programming labs.


Homework: In some classes the GSIs must participate in the preparation of solutions to homework assignments and may be requested to post these solutions or take them to Soft Reserves.

Exams: Two of the most important duties of a GSI are proctoring and scoring examinations. A GSI must be available for both the administration and scoring of exams (including the final). Discuss any time conflicts with the instructor. A GSI must do the utmost to discourage cheating by vigilant proctoring, and by reporting any suspected incidents to the instructor. University policies and procedures on academic integrity are summarized in an instructor’s guide published by Student Policies and Judicial Affairs, Student Center Building B (534-6225).

Keeping Records: The GSI is responsible for maintaining the records for all students in the class. The GSI is responsible for keeping those records in a secure place, and if kept on a computer, for keeping a current backup. Keeping all student records secure and confidential is a major responsibility of the GSI that should be treated with the utmost care. All completed assignments, exams, grades, correspondence, and other information about individual students in the class shall be kept confidential except when the student has given written consent. Papers and examinations have to be returned to the students in a way that protects the privacy of the student. Grade records are kept for one year.

Assignment of grades: While the faculty member in charge of the course is responsible for assigning students’ grades, GSIs play an important role in the evaluation of students’ work. If a student complains about a final grade, the GSI should refer the student to the instructor because the instructor has final responsibility for the conduct of the course. Only the instructor has the authority to change a grade. The instructor should announce the policy regarding late homeworks, etc. at the beginning of the quarter. If the GSI is unclear on any of these policies, they are to be discussed with the instructor.

Academic dishonesty: A GSI who suspects cheating on assignments or exams must report suspected incidents to the instructor.

Difficulties: Problems that cannot be resolved informally with the instructor should be brought to the attention of the Department Chair or the Chair of the Graduate Affairs Committee.

Experience for Ph.D.

Teaching Experience is required of all bioengineering Ph.D. students. The teaching requirement must be completed prior to taking the Senate Qualifying Exam.

Teaching experience is defined as service as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) in a course designated by the department. The total teaching requirement for new Ph.D. students is two quarters at 50% effort (20 hours per week) or four quarters at 25% effort (10 hours per week). At least one quarter of teaching experience is required during the first year, normally during the Winter or Spring Quarter (prior to the Departmental Qualifying Examination). The teaching experience should be taken as a course for academic credit (Bioengineering 501). New students should discuss enrolling for the teaching requirement course (BENG 501) with their faculty advisor and must contact the Student Affairs Office to plan for completion of this requirement.

After the student has successfully passed the Departmental Qualifying Examination and fulfilled the teaching experience requirement, a Doctoral Committee (or Senate Committee) of five faculty members will be appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies on behalf of the Academic Senate. Students should consult the Student Affairs Office regarding the composition of this committee. The students’ knowledge of a thesis area and the research plan will be thoroughly examined (Senate Qualifying Examination) by this committee. Upon completion of thesis research and its acceptance by the advisor, the thesis is presented in a Dissertation Defense Examination to the members of the Doctoral Committee for approval.