Purpose

The Graduate School is pleased to announce the 31st annual awards program recognizing Outstanding Teaching Assistants. This program was instituted to recognize Teaching Assistants who have made distinguished contributions to Syracuse University by demonstrating excellence in significant instructional capacities such as classroom teachers, laboratory or studio instructors, recitation or discussion section leaders, or assistants to senior faculty members for a high-enrollment course. Nominees must be students in good standing in their programs and making satisfactory progress toward the completion of their graduate degrees.  All nominees must have completed the Syracuse University TA Orientation program.

Regardless of the number of TAs employed in a given department, the Graduate School encourages the nomination of only truly distinguished candidates. On average, the committee envisions recognizing approximately the top 4% of all TAs campus-wide, with no more than one possible nomination for every ten active TA appointments per department or academic unit. Students receiving the Outstanding TA Award will hold that distinction permanently and will not be eligible for future nominations.

Nomination Procedure

Given the wide variation in TA responsibilities across campus, each academic department (or other academic unit for schools and colleges not organized by departments) wishing to nominate graduate students for an award will have considerable latitude in establishing selection criteria and a selection process. However, outstanding teaching is not sufficient: it is important that the nominees be making documented progress toward their academic degrees. Academic units are encouraged to consider ways to solicit undergraduate student recommendations for nominations for Outstanding TA Awards.

Nominations for the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award must be submitted to the Graduate School Programs office (304 Lyman Hall) by Friday, January 26, 2018.

Nomination should include the following materials:

  1. Letter of nomination from a faculty member in the nominee’s academic discipline. This letter should include an overview of the nominee’s outstanding service to the department, achievements in teaching, and evidence of satisfactory progress toward degree. Please also include a brief description of why the candidate should be considered outstanding in the context of your program.
  2. Cover letter of endorsement from the department chair (if other than the nominating faculty)
  3. Letters of endorsement from other faculty members with whom the nominee has served as a Teaching Assistant
  4. Letters of endorsement from undergraduate students. While not required, the absence of such letters is likely to put the nominee at a disadvantage relative to other candidates; departments are thus encouraged to solicit student letters early in the process.

Portfolio Application Process

Once nominated, it will be necessary for each TA to prepare a portfolio containing evidence of teaching excellence and progress toward degree. Departments are responsible for notifying TAs of their nomination and making them aware of the portfolio requirement.

The portfolio should include:

  • A table of contents
  • A personal statement/cover letter
  • A statement of teaching philosophy
  • A current CV, including relevant teaching experiences
  • Descriptions of specific teaching responsibilities at Syracuse University
  • Teaching materials (e.g., exams, quizzes, or assignments constructed by the nominee, syllabi for recitation sessions, labs, studios, or classes previously taught)
  • Student evaluations (quantitative summaries for all courses TA’ed, one or more complete sets including qualitative data)
  • Reflective statements concerning these teaching experiences, materials, and evaluations
  • Reports of classroom observers (faculty or peers)
  • Any other materials the applicant wishes the selection committee to examine: video recordings of class sessions or presentations, research statements, a sample of work/research, etc.

The deadline for nominees to submit their completed materials is Friday, February 23, 2018.

Optional portfolio information sessions will be held in 312 Lyman Hall on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, February 7, 3:00-4:00 p.m.
  • Friday, February 9, 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Online portfolios (e.g., in WordPress) are encouraged. Nominees submitting hard-copy portfolios are strongly advised to provide a supplemental PDF of the entire document.

An awards presentation and reception will be held in late April. The TAs honored will receive a certificate of merit and a gift, and will be encouraged to invite their faculty advisors to this event.

Please refer any inquiries to Glenn Wright (glwright@syr.edu or 315.443.3458).