Outstanding TA Award Nominations

Purpose

The Graduate School is pleased to announce the 34th 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. No more than one nomination for every ten active TA appointments per department or academic unit can be considered.  (One reason for requiring department chair endorsement is to ensure that departments do not unknowingly put forward more nominees than can win the award.) 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 timely progress toward completion of their degrees.

Nominations for the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award must be submitted to the Graduate School by Friday, February 12, 2021. Due to COVID-19 restrictions we will not accept any physical materials this year.  All materials must be submitted electronically, either as a PDF with appropriate tabulation or as part of a personal/professional portfolio website.

The following nomination materials should be submitted as a single PDF to scloner@syr.edu and kioannid@syr.edu:

  1. Letter of nomination from a faculty member who can speak of the student’s performance in the TA role. This letter should  explain in specific terms why the nominee merits special recognition for teaching  and why the candidate should be considered outstanding in the context of your program.
  2. Letter of endorsement from the department chair (if other than the nominating faculty). Minimally, the letter should indicate that the student is in good academic standing, is making satisfactory progress to degree, and enjoys departmental support for the award.
  3. Letters of recommendation from other faculty members with whom the nominee has served as a Teaching Assistant
  4. Recommended: Letters of support from  students in courses for which the nominee has served as TA. Though such letters are not required, their absence 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. Emails are acceptable.

Portfolio Application Process

Once nominated, it will be necessary for each TA to prepare a portfolio containing evidence of teaching excellence and success as both a graduate student and an instructor. Departments are responsible for notifying TAs of their nominations 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, March 12, 2021.

Optional portfolio information sessions will be held via Zoom on the following dates:

  • Friday, February 19, 2021 11:00–12:00 p.m. (Zoom Link)
  • Wednesday, February 24, 2021 1:30–2:30 p.m. (Zoom Link)

Due to COVID-19 restrictions we will not accept physical (binder) portfolios this year.  All materials must be submitted electronically either as a PDF with appropriate tabulation or as part of a personal/professional portfolio website.  All materials can be sent to Shawn Loner at scloner@syr.edu and/or Dina Ioannidis at kioannid@syr.edu.

Normally an awards presentation and reception would be held in late April.  Should we be able to hold a physical ceremony, the TAs honored will receive a certificate of merit and a gift, and will be encouraged to invite their faculty advisors to this event. Should that not be possible, we will attempt to make other arrangements to honor the award winners.

Please refer any inquiries to Shawn Loner (scloner@syr.edu) in the Graduate School.