FAQs for TAs

Important Links:

Where can I get a copy of the TSSU Collective Agreement?

  • download an electronic copy here
  • pick up a hard copy from the Biology photocopier room

What do I do if I suspect students have been cheating?

SFU's Academic Honesty and Student Conduct Policies can be found here.  If you suspect there has been breach of any of these policies, you should bring them to the course instructor's attention immediately.  It is the course instructor's responsibility to investigate and decide what, if any, action is to be taken.

How will I be evaluated and when can I see my course evaluations?

  • The course instructor will go on-line to complete Appendix E of the TSSU Collective Agreement when your duties for the semester have been completed.  You will receive an email with the link to your on-line evaluation.  Instructors cannot change the form once it has been sent to you.  You may make any comments you wish and then submit the form.  Instructors will be able to read your comments but cannot make any changes.  Feel free to keep a copy for yourself.  See a sample here.
  • Students will be asked to complete a course evaluation for each TA during the penultimate week of class.  The summary of these evaluations will be available after the first week of class of the following semester.  Should you wish to see the students' written comments, please ask a member of the General Office Staff to assist you.

Who do I talk to if I have questions about my TA contract?

  • The Manager, Administrative Services would be happy to explain anything related to your contract such as pay rates, pay dates, base units, etc.
  • The course instructor is responsibile for assigning specific duties to TAs, so they will be able to answer questions such as which tutorial and/or lab sections you will be responsible for, whether or not they expect you to attend lectures, etc.

What do I do if I think I may be going over my hours?

We ask TAs to track their hours and compare the hours spent with the hours on their TUG forms.  If you feel you may be going over your hours in any category, you must speak to the course supervisor immediately.  They will work with you to get you back on track.  You may not go over your total hours without prior approval from the department (see the Workload Review).

How and when will I be paid?

There are 8.5 bi-weekly pay periods in each semester.  The semesterly and bi-weekly amounts are shown on your contract and the bi-weekly amount will be paid on the payday Friday.  Payroll decides whether the .5 pay will either be the first pay period of the semester or the last.  The email notifying you of your TAship as well as the memo you receive with your contract will tell you:

  • the start and end dates of your contract
  • the date of the first payday and whether it will be for 1 week's or 2 weeks' pay
  • the date of the last payday and whether it will be for 1 week's or 2 weeks' pay
  • the date by which signed contracts and payroll documentation must be received

Please note that it is important to return your signed contracts and any other required payroll forms to the Biology General Office by the due date in order to be paid on the first payday.  If you miss this date, you will receive any retro pay on the next possible payday.

What is the Time Use Guideline (TUG) Form, who completes it and when?

The Time Use Guideline (TUG) form MUST be completed by the course instructor, in consultation with the TA, during the first week of class.  The TUG form will give you an idea of what duties the course instructor expects you to fulfill and approximately how many hours you are to spend on each of those duties.  This document is a guideline and hours can be moved from one duty from another, but the total number of hours assigned must not be exceeded without approval from the Department. 

Go on-line to review your TUG and refer to it during the semester by clicking here.

What is the Workload Review?

The Workload Review is mandatory for all TAs.  It can be completed any time after week 5, but we recommend that it be completed after the first major marking event, such as a mid-term exam or paper.  The instructor and TA will review the TUG form and compare it to the hours that have been spent in each of the duties so far.  It is important to determine if the TA is going over their hours in any category and, if so, what steps are to be taken to bring the hours in line with the total hours assigned.  Instructors and TAs are expected to work within the hours allocated although it may be necessary to exceed the total hours due to extraordinary circumstances.  These circumstances would be explained in the Workload Review and the department then decides whether the extra hours can be approved or, if they cannot be approved, what action must be taken so that the TA does not work more than their total assigned hours.

It is important to remember that while the Workload Review is an opportunity for the instructor and TA to discuss workload, it is not the only opportunity.  Instructors should check in with their TAs throughout the semester and TAs who feel they may be exceeding their hours should bring it to the attention of the instructor immediately.

How do I access my TUG and Workload Review?

Once you receive the email giving you access to your TUG form, please sign in, review the hours that have been entered by the course supervisor and either click to accept or request a meeting to discuss the hours with the course supervisor.   You can check your on-line TUG at any time. 

You and your course supervisor will be reminded to complete the Workload Review section after week 5 or the first major marking event of the semester.