We’re not always happy with our grades so sometimes we like to discuss these substandard scores with the source. Unfortunately, at the University of Miami, this often means chatting with the guy you just played in beer pong.
Teaching Assistants (TAs) can be very helpful in assisting with review groups and lessening professors’ workloads.
TAs should not, however, assess anything subjective; papers and Blue Book examinations should be off-limits and graded solely by the professor. Students have the right for their papers to be evaluated by the instructor hired by the university. A professor’s duty is to teach, not only to lecture. Students can learn a lot from the feedback they receive on their essays, and it should come from a qualified professor, not the girl down the hall.
It’s understandable that some classes are simply too large for the professor to read everyone’s essays. It’s unreasonable for students to be graded by other students, and it is doubly unjust that, in many cases, there are several TAs grading one class’ materials. In one class this semester, four different TAs are grading papers and in-class essays. Some students receive letter grades while others get number grades. Inconsistent grading leads to bewilderment and frustration.
For many students, grades are important. The letters lining our transcripts and the numbers that makes up our GPA encapsulates our university experience. TAs should not have the ability to influence these letters and numbers; especially since many internship programs, graduate schools and potential employers ask students to explain their records. Students at UM need to know that they will be evaluated by the instructor they sign up for during registration, not the kid standing behind them in line at the registrar’s office.
Pat Cunnane is a senior majoring in political science and journalism. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.