Support of Part-Time Teachers
To ensure that all tutors and demonstrators provide a high-quality teaching and learning experience for students.
To monitor the quality of demonstrators and tutors throughout the Department.
To train postgraduate demonstrators, in laboratories and problems classes.
To provide a robust and effective mentoring system for new tutors.
To ensure that marking carried out by postgraduates is fair and transparent.
Rationale and Background
The Department uses postgraduates as demonstrators in laboratories and problems classes,
and post-doctoral staff as tutors, both to enhance the learning experience of students,
and to maintain the teaching load of its permanent academic staff at a reasonable level.
Involving young researchers at the beginnings of their careers in the teaching of our
undergraduates has clear benefits, but also calls for robust procedures to ensure
that adequate training is given to these teachers, to ensure the high quality of
All postgraduate and postdoctoral teachers have a permanent academic member of staff who supervises their activities,
and upon whom they can call for advice and assistance. In laboratories this would be a
Laboratory Co-ordinator or the Module Leader as
appropriate, in problems classes, the Problem Class
Co-ordinator and for tutors the Student Co-ordinator.
Training or mentoring is provided for the teaching activities undertaken by postgraduate and postdoctoral teachers:
In the Level 1 Laboratory, there is a training day for new
demonstrators in which the demonstrating, marking and administrative
procedures are described, and demonstrators perform a sub-set of
experiments themselves, filling in a pro-forma feedback form assessing
In the Level 2 Laboratory new demonstrators have two to three days
of training, and the experiments are grouped so that one student
demonstrator and one staff demonstrator are attached to a group of about
six experiments, and become experts at them.
For Problems Classes there is a meeting before the beginning of each
session, in which the organisation of the classes is described, and good
practice in the marking of student work is discussed.
In Electronics and Computing Classes there is a meeting before the beginning of each session,
in which the organisation of the classes is described, and good
practice in the marking of student work is discussed. Training tailored to
the prior experience of each demonstrator is arranged.
Only researchers of postdoctoral level are involved in tutorials.
In this case the Student Co-ordinator acts as mentor, discussing the duties
of tutor and providing any assistance required, e.g. in obtaining
suitable material to set as work tutorial work.
In all the above activities, written guidelines are available in the Department Handbook
and further details are included in the appropriate module folders.
Where postgraduates are required to mark student work, clear written guidelines are provided, and the
supervisor of the teaching activity ensures that these are adhered to. Minor inconsistencies which
inevitably occur between markers are removed by rotating markers, or by ensuring that all students'
work on a particular occasion is marked by one marker. If students are uncertain about why they have
received a particular mark, then they are encouraged to discuss this first with the marker, and
then if necessary with the supervisor.
Monitoring is achieved formally through questionnaires which
are fed into the module and programme monitoring system. However most problems would be identified
well before this by the module leader, or raised at Student/Staff Liaison Committee.