Undergraduate Teaching Assistants

The following policies and procedures refer to undergraduate teaching assistants (UTAs) taking part in a UTA experience offered by a department or program within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Other UI colleges and offices have different guidelines. 

UTAs may provide supplemental instruction and tutoring for undergraduates in or out of the classroom and may also help facilitate classroom activities. Rather than to reduce the cost or burden of providing instruction to undergraduates, the central purpose for inviting an undergraduate to serve as a UTA is to enrich the academic experience of the UTA while providing additional support for all students in the course. Students functioning as a UTA should be encouraged by the faculty supervisor to reflect on the experience through writing assignments such as a journal and in discussions with the faculty member.

CLAS UTA Policies

  • A UTA may be recruited only after the Associate Dean approves of the use of UTAs by that department or program. (See below for more information on applying for this approval.)

  • A UTA is supervised by a faculty instructor. 

  • A UTA in the classroom is always accompanied by an instructor.

  • A UTA offering supplemental instruction or tutoring outside of the classroom does not require direct supervision during these sessions.

  • A UTA does not grade materials or enter them into the grade book.

  • A UTA must not be given access to student records.

  • A UTA must be offered initial and follow-up training. Initial training must include both FERPA and sexual misconduct and sexual misconduct reporting. This training is not usually part of the in-depth training for graduate student TAs who have many responsibilities that UTAs do not have. FERPA training for students may be found here: https://registrar.uiowa.edu/faculty-and-staff-ferpa-information. Information on harassment prevention and response training for students may be found here: https://endingviolence.uiowa.edu/initiatives/anti-harassment-training-student-employees

  • A UTA's name must not appear on the MyUI schedule of courses.

  • An annual report concerning the use of UTAs must be submitted by the department or program (see below).

Application Process

A department interested in using UTAs must create departmental UTA guidelines that include reasonable standards and expectations for recruiting a student to participate as a UTA; these might include, for example, a minimum GPA and the completion of certain courses within the department or major. The standards should be used to ensure that students are treated fairly and consistently.


UTAs may earn credit hours by signing up for a practicum or internship offered by the department, program, or by CLAS. Semester hours earned should be aligned with the normal UI definition of the credit hour. Instead of earning credit hours, UTAs may be paid an hourly wage by the department or may receive work-study funds, if applicable. A student may not receive both credit hours and a wage for functioning as a UTA. Regardless of whether credit or a wage is earned by the UTA, all UTA guidelines must still be followed. 

Approval by the College

Before students are invited to participate, a UTA program must be approved by the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education. The DEO of the related department or program should send a letter to the Associate Dean describing the following aspects of the program: 

  • Standards used to choose UTAs

  • Number of UTAs to be used

  • Number, name, size, and typical audience of courses using UTAs

  • Compensation for UTAs, with details on credit hours or wage earned, with hours per week worked

  • Initial and ongoing training and supervision of UTA, which must include FERPA and sexual misconduct training/reporting. Training should also include weekly sessions with the instructor and, if applicable, with other UTAs and TAs

  • Description of UTA’s activities

  • Summary of related academic work if offered for credit, with explanation of amount in relation to credit hours earned

  • Method of evaluation of UTA’s work

  • Method of collecting feedback on experience from UTA (can be a reflective paper, for example, on what has been learned and changes suggested for the future)

Annual Report

At the end of the spring semester, a brief report of around 2 pages should be submitted to the Associate Dean with information about the program. Reports should describe the number of UTAs used; involved courses; compensation; training completed; related UTA activities; description of UTAs academic work if taken for credit; and feedback from UTA about the experience. The report should also assess the experience, analyzing problems and suggesting possible changes to be made in the future.

Sample Activities of UTAs​

UTAs often do the following:

  • Help students during an applied lesson in the classroom

  • Tutor individual students, answer students' questions during the UTA's office hours, or hold study sessions for an exam

  • Lead a discussion under the supervision of the faculty member

  • Create a lesson plan and lead a course under the supervision of the instructor

  • Help prepare activities under the direction of the instructor

  • Help to prepare class materials and to disseminate them

  • Find related materials for the instructor to use, providing research aid

  • Help facilitate group work in the TILE classroom or in smaller discussions within a lecture or section

  • Help students who need guidance in a lab