By MATTHEW YORK/Montana State News
Eighty percent of Montana State University students object to taking classes taught by graduate students. According to a poll conducted by the Montana State News Group, students consider classes taught by teaching assistants (TAs) to be inferior to those taught by professors.
“It’s stupid,” one student, who declined to identify himself, said. “We’re paying thousands of dollars a semester and being taught by, essentially, ourselves.”
The study’s participants feel short-changed by the practice, which they feel provides an “under-whelming education,” according to one student. MSU offers a many lecture classes, a significant number of which are accompanied by recitations that are taught by TAs. Teaching Assistants are usually recent graduates for that particular field of study and generally work closely with the professors.
Recitations are classes that meet in addition to the regular lecture times and are designed to augment the curriculum. Large professor-lead lectures may reach several hundred students at a time, while the TA lead recitations are usually much smaller. Recitations account for a large chunk of the grade, which means TA’s are affecting a student’s education just as much as the full-time professor.
Professors have years of teaching experience and students feel this should be a part of their education. “A lot of times, TA’s are grading papers we turn in for the professor him [or her] self,” said Victoria Neman, a student at MSU.
With such a high demand for some classes, large universities, such as MSU, rely on the TA’s to help keep classes available to meet the students’ needs.
“Perhaps if those classes were discounted, or professors would check in on the recitations, it’d feel a bit better,” offered one student. “It’s like paying for two patties and only getting one.”
Edited by Becky Hattersley