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NEHiker17

Concurrently taking & TAing a course

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I'm a first year graduate student and am taking a class with a mix of upper level undergraduates and grad students.  The TA is also a first year grad student and is taking the class at the same time (as a regular student, for a grade...the only difference is that she's supposed to turn in her homework two days early).  Last year, the professor also had a TA that was taking the class at the same time.  Several person know she's the TA, and she openly talks about grading with us.  However, the professor has never openly said who the TA is and just talks about "the graders" in class without saying who the other person is he's talking about.  It's so awkward, and we can't go to the TA for advice or questions because it's a hard class that she's struggling with herself, and the professor apparently wants it to be a secret.  This makes me think he realizes it doesn't really make sense.  I'm friends with his previous TA, and she thinks the situation is completely inappropriate.  I don't know how much experience the current TA has in the subject matter, but I know she struggles just as much as the other students and I don't know why she would be taking it if she already knew the material.  Are TAs normally not allowed to take a course that they're currently TAing?  I can't find policies on this at my school and wish I had asked at the beginning of the semester instead of deciding to speak up now.

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This is definitely a bizarre situation. I don't know if I've ever seen a formal policy against it, but common sense alone dictates that the TA should not be a current student for a variety of reasons. 1. How can you judge the quality of someone's work when you are not as fluent in the subject matter? A TA is usually someone who did well in a course and then assists in the instruction and grading of material in subsequent semesters/years. It's like the in-between stage of student and professor. 2. How can the TA be impartial if they are grading their fellow classmates? This is another reason why TAs are usually more advanced students because the likelihood of there being much interaction and "history" with the students in the class is unlikely. 

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