Why should you want to be a demonstrator in the undergraduate laboratories?
Working as a demonstrator (or Graduate Teaching Assistant, GTA) provides you with an opportunity to broaden your experience at Imperial College London; it gives you the opportunity to develop your interpersonal skills, your communication skills and your practical skills. You will learn how to convey complex technical concepts, teach writing and communication skills, and it will give you the opportunity to analyse your own practice and reflect on your own technical abilities. You will also find that your knowledge base improves as you draw on your own experience to explain complex concepts.
When considering a career in academia it is important to stress any teaching experience; being a GTA helps you to build up a teaching portfolio and allows you to become aware of your own teaching style.
In short, being a GTA enhances your CV!
The Department requires the GTAs to seek permission from their supervisors prior to starting their teaching. Furthermore, GTAs will need to have either already attended the GTA training course offered by the Department at the start of each academic year to new Postgraduates or have registered to do any training, including workshops offered by the Educational Development Unit (post-docs), or Graduate School (PhD students) which are particularly aimed at GTAs who are assessing student work.
Finally, the GTAs must complete a Letter of Understanding prior to starting work. Failure to submit this prior to starting work may result in payment not being granted.
GTAs are paid at a single rate in the Department of Chemistry. The rates are determined by the College each year. View pay rates effective from August 2014.
You are paid for the contact time with students and/or marking, and, in the case of tutorials, you will be paid for one hour of preparation as well.
* College advertise a "higher rate" intended for small group teaching; this only pays for contact time and reflects the fact that more preparation is needed. For a trial period in 2013/14 in Chemistry we will pay at the base rate, but pay for one hour of preparation.
Before first payment, GTAs must:
- complete a Letter of Understanding and submit via Blackboard
- fill in the 'Casual Worker Joining Form (Pay 8a) and submit it, along with a verified photocopy of your passport (or other entitlement to work in the UK) to the Senior Tutor.
- These will be signed off by the Senior Tutor.
Every month, you must submit the completed Pay 8b form via Blackboard which will be signed by the Senior Tutor and submitted for processing.
GTA Training and Support
Formal GTA training and support is offered in the form of:
- Task-specific briefing by respective academics
- Educational Development Unit: Special skill courses
- Graduate School: Professional skills courses
- Blackboard: technological resources
- GTA guidance booklet 'Starting to teach in Higher Education'
The Educational Development Unit runs regular workshops on marking and giving feedback which are crucial aspects of the student experience.
The Graduate School of Imperial College is focused on broadening and enriching the academic experience of Postgraduate students in the wider sense. Offered are special events of networking and transferrable skill courses which GTAs can use in order to develop in general. Such courses are often not GTA specific and therefore not the type of training accepted as requirement for GTA activity.
If in doubt as to your training needs, please do consult with the member of staff leading the class for guidance as to how best to prepare for the class. More often than not they will be able to point you in the right direction.