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PGR Students who Teach

This section outlines the School requirements for the recruitment, payment, training, and monitoring of postgraduates who teach.

Section contents:

PGR STUDENTS’ WHO TEACH

  1. The University recognises that supporting the learning of others provides a valuable opportunity for research students to develop their professional skills. As part of their overall development, research students may seek teaching opportunities: to work as tutors or demonstrators; to co-supervise undergraduate projects; and to assess students’ work.

  2. Research students may seek teaching opportunities in their own or any other School of the University. Teaching opportunities may be unavailable in some Schools, or may be limited and not available to all students in others.

  3. Unless there are contractual commitments (e.g. as part of a Graduate Teaching Assistant scheme) research students cannot be obliged to carry out teaching duties.

  4. Unless teaching duties are part of a sponsorship agreement (e.g. a Graduate Teaching Assistant scheme) the student will be paid at the appropriate, University-approved hourly rate for teaching and assessment duties.

  5. The decision to take up such duties is one that the student should make in consultation with their supervisor, and the teaching activity should not be so time-consuming as to impede progress with the research project.

  6. It is the responsibility of the Head of School to ensure that all research students who are involved in teaching and/or assessment activities in his/her School are fully supported in that work. Further, the Head of School or their nominee, typically the Director of Teaching or the Year Tutor as applicable, will ensure:

    1. that research students undertaking teaching activities are provided with a clear statement of the activities in which they will be engaged, including the number of hours and the rate of pay, with which they will be requested to agree prior to commencing those activities;

    2. that, unless there are contractual commitments to the contrary, the number of hours of teaching activity undertaken by the student does not exceed an average of six per week across an academic year, including class contact time, preparation, assessment and feedback;

    3. that the research student is directed in their work by the module leader and is not given responsibility for the organisation or management of a module or its assessment strategy;

    4. that research students who wish to be considered for teaching opportunities must:

      • be subject to a transparent selection process that assesses their suitability: their level of relevant knowledge, and their organisational and communication abilities;

      • have undertaken adequate training appropriate to the activity to be undertaken;

      • be provided with additional, specific information about the module. 

TRAINING, MENTORING AND MONITORING FOR TEACHING ACTIVITIES

  1. The Head of School is responsible for ensuring that all research students engaged in teaching activities in his/her School have received an appropriate level of training prior to commencing teaching and/or assessment duties.

  2. The training should be relevant for the type of activity to be undertaken, such as small group teaching, laboratory demonstrating, assessing students’ work. (See below.)

    Additional guidance must be provided about the module, its learning outcomes, its assessment, and the nature of the teaching activity to be undertaken.

  3. An appropriate member of staff (e.g. the Director of Teaching, the Year Tutor, Module Leader) will act as a Mentor to students engaged in teaching activities in the School, and will be available to address any queries.

  4. At least one of the student’s teaching sessions per academic session will be observed by the Mentor or an alternative member of staff. The student’s performance will also be monitored through module feedback questionnaires.

  5. Where a student’s teaching performance proves less than satisfactory and, in the judgment of the Mentor, this cannot be improved upon by further training, they will not be allocated any further teaching activities. 

INVOLVEMENT IN ASSESSMENT

  1. The skills required to assess students’ work cannot be acquired solely by having a deep understanding of the subject matter.  Developing a shared understanding of the academic standards within a programme requires experience, an appreciation of marking culture, and a wider understanding of pedagogy and the principles that support assessment.  Heads of School need to ensure that research students involved in assessment are properly prepared and supported when undertaking assessment duties.

  2. It is expected that assessments marked by research students will be subject to some form of moderation, and that second marking of all assignments within an individual assessment task will take place where the risk of variability in marking (or perceived risk) is high, and when the assessment could have a significant impact on a student’s progression and/or final award.