Teaching Assistants

The Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University provides services as a teaching assistant which is a wonderful way to:

  • Learn more about the field.
  • Develop critical skills for graduate training.
  • Make connections with department faculty and graduate students.

While each instructor sets their own criteria for a teaching assistant, it is generally expected that you have taken the course that you are interested in working with and have passed the course with a high grade (usually an A). As with any position, whether it is research, teaching or working at a practicum site, you will be expected to maintain the highest standards of ethical and professional behavior.

PSY 3550 Teaching Apprenticeship

Serving as a teaching assistant gives you the opportunity to work with an instructor to receive feedback and supervision while developing critical teaching and organizational skills. You do not sign up for this course through the normal registration process; you need to be approved for a teaching assistant position. Follow these steps:

  1. Contact the instructor who is teaching a class that you have taken and excelled in. To find out if there are opportunities available during the upcoming semester, stop by a faculty member's office during their office hours, talk with your current instructor or email the instructor of record listed in the course offerings.
    This can be somewhat intimidating if you are not used to approaching instructors about these kinds of opportunities. However, be assured that our faculty and instructors are uniquely interested in helping undergraduates develop these skills and welcome your interests. Realize, however, that teaching opportunities are quite limited and fill up quickly. Do not be discouraged if there are no opportunities currently available and try again next semester.
  2. Contact the instructor early, as some teaching assistant positions require a formal application to be turned in before a deadline. Other instructors will informally offer the position to top ranked students. The best way to find out how a particular faculty member handles the selection of teaching assistants is to contact him or her.
  3. If you have been selected to serve as a teaching assistant, fill out the top portion of the PSY 3550 Permission to Elect form.
  4. Obtain the necessary signatures.
  5. The faculty member will give the form to the Department of Psychology.
  6. You will receive instructions on how to register for PSY 3550. Be sure to follow these instructions carefully and check your schedule to make sure that you have registered for PSY 3550 for the correct number of credits.

Start early

It is a good idea to start this process early. Getting the paperwork done will alleviate any problems with tuition bills, financial aid and last minute panic. If you have any questions, contact the psychology advisor.