Tech options to reduce TA workload

by Graduate Division Staff
Thursday, November 19, 2020 9:00 AM

Check out this helpful guide by Anita Stahl, Ph.D. Candidate in UCSB's Department of Feminist Studies.

Leveraging Tech to Reduce TA Workload

Adjusting to remote instruction has been overwhelming for many. UCSB gives instructors and TAs access to great technologies that can be used to assist TAs as they seek to provide our students with a high-quality education. This guide gives TAs some ideas to balance the labor of teaching with course and programmatic goals.

Some of these you can implement yourself, others you may consider offering as a suggestion to the instructor of record for course-wide adoption, since faculty may not be familiar with all the options available.

Shoreline is UCSB’s community engagement platform. You can use it to schedule and  manage office hours among other cool features like automatically sharing Zoom links.

Shoreline Instructions

Nectir is UCSB’s chat and instant messaging platform. To reduce the amount of time you spend corresponding with individual students via email, encourage the class to post general questions, like clarifications about assignments or how to access a lecture, to Nectir instead of emailing. This ensures that everyone across sections is on the same page and TAs do not have to duplicate their work of answering the same questions repeatedly. In cases that students still email such questions to TAs, they can have a polite form response asking the student to post to Nectir or saying they would post the question and answer to Nectir themselves. Similarly, TAs may have a friendly form response directing students to Nectir when they email a question that’s already been answered there. TAs can take turns weekly monitoring and moderating the Nectir chat.

Nectir Instructions

GauchoSpace Assignments
Standardize the grading by using a grading guide or rubric. This allows you to provide some feedback about where a student can improve, without having to write it out.

You might also consider providing a list of common feedback they could copy and paste into the feedback box.

Standardize the submission format to save TAs the trouble of having to search for ways to open all sorts of file types. Set the file type to PDF for TAs to quickly grade papers in the GauchoSpace grading view.

Assignment Reference Guide consider especially the section on “accepted file type” and “grading method”

GauchoSpace Forums
Graded forum posts are a great way to encourage students to discuss course topics. When using forums, setting up the “ratings” function will allow you to grade easily with a drop-down menu as they click through the discussion. There are tons of different ratings options depending on your expectations, like having students write multiple posts and replies.

Forum Reference Guide

GauchoSpace Quizzes
Quizzes can be set to autograde with many different question types.

Quiz Reference Guide

Gradescope facilitates efficient grading of students’ handwritten homework or exams. Features include freehand comments, saved point deductions, stored comments for re-use, on the fly rubric creation, and the ability to change point allocations and rapidly regrade.

Gradescope Reference Guide

This is not a UCSB supported technology, but a helpful tool for you to track your work. It is free for individuals and has lots of cool features, an easy to use website, and a robust mobile app.

Sign-up for Clockify

Eli Review/Access to Practice Peer Review
Eli Review is a set of tools that help instructors create highly structured assignments and peer review activities. With Eli Review students can practice with hard course concepts and/or hard ways of writing. They also practice providing feedback and benefit from receiving feedback from peers. Using Eli Review improves thinking and writing and helps build a learning community, while reducing the grading load on TAs.

Eli Review Help