Policy

College of Engineering

Graduate Student Instructor and Undergraduate Instructional Aide Teacher Orientation Policy Statement

As the College of Engineering continually seeks ways to assure that graduate student instructors (GSIs) and undergraduate instructional aides (IAs) are well prepared for classroom instruction, the College has implemented the following policy regarding GSIs and IAs.

Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs)

  • In accordance with university policy and the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) contract, all new engineering GSIs are required to participate in the Engineering GSI Teacher Orientation prior to assuming a GSI role. The program consists of two parts: a Canvas course and participation in ongoing professional development (e.g. practice teaching). 
  • The GSI teacher orientation program is coordinated by the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching in Engineering (CRLT-Engin), and questions about program content should be directed to crlt-engin@umich.edu. Questions regarding attendance at the program should be directed to the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education (adue-pipe@umich.edu).
  • Departments may supplement the college-wide orientation if they desire.

Undergraduate Instructional Aides (IAs)

  • Newly appointed undergraduate instructional aides (IAs) are required to participate in the Engineering IA Teacher Orientation. Like the GSI orientation, the program consists of two parts: a Canvas course and participation in ongoing professional development (e.g. practice teaching). 
  • The IA Teacher Orientation program is coordinated by CRLT-Engin, and questions about program content should be directed to crlt-engin@umich.edu. Questions regarding attendance at the program should be directed to the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education (adue-pipe@umich.edu).
  • Departments may supplement the college-wide orientation if they desire.

GSIs or IAs Who Miss Teaching Orientation

  • In special circumstances (e.g., late appointments), GSIs and IAs may be granted permission to complete a make-up orientation program. The make-up program includes two required components: 1) completing a Canvas course and 2) participation in ongoing professional development (which typically includes attendance of an approved seminar and submitting a written reflection). Students who do not complete the requirements will be ineligible for future GSI & IA appointments, until they complete their training requirements.
  • The make-up training program is only granted on a case-by-case basis. Departments who have students who must participate in the make-up orientation program should contact the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education (adue-pipe@umich.edu). Students who fail to complete the make-up program are not eligible to be appointed as GSIs or IAs in subsequent terms.


Costs for the TeachingOrientation

The Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education will pay expenses associated with organizing and presenting the Engineering GSI and IA Teacher Orientation programs (including the ongoing professional development sessions for GSIs). Departments will not be charged  for their new GSIs or IAs to participate in these programs. However, due to the increased costs involved in conducting the make-up programs, departments will be charged $100 for each GSI and IA who misses their training. Departments should compensate GSIs and IAs for the hours spent in training.

Communicative Testing for GSI Candidates

One of the primary criteria that should be used to assess all GSI candidates is their ability to communicate effectively with students in their roles as teachers, both inside and outside the classroom. Since this may raise additional challenges for non-native English speakers seeking to be GSIs, the following additional policies apply to GSI candidates.

  • Students who are native English speakers, who are educated in an undergraduate university that teaches exclusively in English, or who earned an undergraduate or graduate degree from a U.S. University, are the only graduate students allowed to teach during their first term in the United States. These students are also exempted from taking the language exam described below.
  • All GSI candidates who do not meet the above criteria must be assessed using the Oral English Test (OET) offered by Cambridge-Michigan Language Assessments (CaMLA) before they may participate in the GSI training or serve as GSIs.  The Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education will pay the full cost for such students to take the language exam one time in any given term during the months of August, November, December, April, or May.  Departments who arrange for students to take the test in the months of September, October, January, February, March, June, or July will be charged the actual cost (approximately $520)
  • Our expectation is that departments are seeking to appoint students who have excellent English language communications skills and who will therefore likely score adequately on the first attempt. Departments may pay (full cost) for students to take the language exam additional times, if appropriate, but students should take appropriate ELI coursework before attempting the exam for a second time, especially if they obtained a C or D score.  Departments will be charged actual cost for these second attempts.  
  • All GSI candidates who are required to take the language exam must obtain a score on the English proficiency evaluation of A (high pass) or B (pass). Students with scores of C (fail) or D (fail) may not be appointed as classroom instructors until they have successfully completed ELI courses and obtained a score of A or B. 

Exceptions

Exceptions to these College of Engineering policies may only be requested by contacting the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education.


Collage of training pictures