Dealing with Troublesome TAs

This post came out of a recent question posted on this blog…

“Do you have any advice on how to deal with TA or grader? Students are always complaining and frustrated about how their work [is] being graded (the TA takes off too many points, the TA doesn’t read their entire assignment carefully, the TA picks on minor items etc.). I always provide the TA with the solution and try my best to set the grading criteria for the TA, but at the end, unless I personally grade all the assignments, it is quite difficult to specify all the details and mistakes in advance. Given in most practical situation[s], TA won’t spend more than 5 minutes per assignment, any suggestion on how to make sure the TA grades properly and effectively.”

This is a frustrating problem – one that I have faced more than a few times over the years. Unfortunately, it’s not always an easy thing to fix – it depends upon whether the problem is due to inexperience, poor judgement, or a bad attitude. Keep in mind too – it’s not always only the TA’s fault – we professors can sometimes be partly (or totally) to blame. 😉 However, I can say for sure that the solution is not for you to be remarking the assignments. That’s just not an appropriate use of your time and it will mean that you can’t get your own work done. In this post I’m offering some strategies both for avoiding this problem, as well as some ideas for dealing with it when it occurs.

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