Will Styler's Homepage
Will Styler

Associate Teaching Professor of Linguistics at UC San Diego

Director of UCSD's Computational Social Science Program

IA Expectations and Goals

So, you’ve been asked to IA a class for Will Styler. Here’s some information about how I view our Instructor/IA relationship, the work, and the teaching process, as well as some useful resources.


A key component of the Instructor/IA dynamic is clear expectations. Here are the expectations on both sides of the table. Many of these things will be obvious to experienced IAs (or others), but I’ll restate them so we’re on the same page.

Additionally, depending on the specific class, these may differ slightly, and either of us may have additional responsibilities, but these things should always be expected, no matter the course.

I, the instructor, am expected to…

You, the IA, are expected to…

Grading Notes

A few things about grading for me…

  1. We are linguists, not grammarians. Do not grade for grammar.
    • Student ‘grammar mistakes’ are not to be marked off, unless the sum of them leads to actual difficulty in understanding the content of the answer/papers
    • You need not look for typoes. Your job is grading their thought, not their writing.
    • Language issues which cause ambiguity which makes it impossible to evaluate whether the answer is correct or not can be commented on with points deducted.
    • Please be sympathetic to L2 English students, and give them the benefit of the doubt where reasonable.
  2. If any element of the grading process is unclear, email or GChat me (cc’ing your fellow IAs) before you finalize any grades so we can sort it out
    • If you’re not sure what I mean on the key, ask me, so we can confirm and fix the key/rubric
    • If there’s an odd response that doesn’t fit the key, share it so we can improve the key/rubric
  3. Grades should be independent of who students are
    • Try to grade the students you know to be smart/helpful/kind identically to the students who make your life difficult.
    • If “Well, this person’s a jerk” enters into your grading process, step back and think.
    • If you have a conflict of interest with a student (e.g. you’re close with them from another area of your life, or they’re your cousin/friend/ex), please let me know so that student can be assigned to another IA for sections and for homework grading.
  4. Regrades should be done through gradescope, or through me
    • Unless there’s an obvious mistake in writing things down (e.g. you entered ‘79’ for a 97%) or a mistake in your grading (e.g. hit the wrong button), involve me in the decision making
    • All grade change decisions outside of Gradescope will be made by me
    • My ‘default’ is to support your initial grade, unless there’s a major problem, deviation from the key, or discrepancy between grading and the course contents.
  5. Discussion grading should be straightforward
    • You’re following the Discussion Post Rubric
    • I expect the majority of the students to earn the full four points
    • Your goal is to confirm effort for the first post, not analyticial perfection
    • If they’ve not posted a complete answer, but it’s clear that they’re thinking carefully about it and have made strong effort, 2 points is fine
    • If a student posts something incomplete, then responds to themselves to post the rest (e.g. they forgot a question), that’s OK. But if it’s clear they’re just copying somebody else’s work, that’s problematic.
    • For the subsequent responses, you’ll just confirm that they’ve made two responses, and that they’re not cruel, off-topic, or blatantly low effort. More responses is fine.
    • The fastest way to do Canvas discussion grading is either to use the ‘Speedgrader’ functionality in Canvas, or to use the Mobile/Tablet app, which show you their combined posts in one place with an easy way to enter the grade.

Confidentiality and Privacy

All information related to individual students, including completed assignments, exams, grades, and correspondence, must remain confidential from anybody outside the instructional team (including parents of students) unless the student provides written permission. More specifically:

Abuse of Authority

It’s essential for IAs to act professionally and avoid misusing their power. They should assess students’ work impartially and justly, without regard to the student who submitted the work. Here are a few among the many kinds of abuse of authority which will not be tolerated:

More generally, IAs should be mindful of the power gradient which exists between them and students, and consider their words and actions carefully, as even an offhand negative comment (e.g. ‘Well, that was stupid, want to try again?’) or joke (e.g. ‘You can’t answer that? That’s it, you fail the class!’) can have serious effects on student anxiety and mental health. Kindness is always correct.

Goals and Desires

I have four overarching goals for our interactions and this class:

  1. We should have open communication
    • If something happens where you think I might want to know, I want to know
    • I will never say “You’re sending too many emails or gChat messages”
    • I am here as a resource, both for the class and as a student
  2. We should present a unified front for the students
    • Clear mutual respect among the instructional team
    • Clarity about the course material (where it exists)
    • Corrections, feedback, and disagreements in private, at the right time and place
    • No ability for students to play us against each other or ‘ask around’ until they get the answer they want
  3. We should grade fairly, accurately, and generously
    • All policies and grading decisions should affect all students uniformly
    • I want succeeding in this class to be straightforward for students who are putting in effort, but hard for students who aren’t putting in the work
    • We should derive no joy from bad grades, but allow students to earn them where deserved
  4. We should help students to learn
    • Our fundamental goal, our ‘one job’ is to help students learn the material
    • Every decision we make in grading, class, and teaching should serve that goal
    • Our interactions with students should serve that end
    • Anything which prevents or harms learning, works against us

Things I’ll need from you before the quarter starts

Name: Will Styler
IPA: [wɪɫ ˈstajlɚ]
Pronouns: He/Him
Office Hours: TBD (or by appointment) in $LOCATION
Email: wstyler@ucsd.edu


Title IX Reporting

Although there is some legal ambiguity about the exact status of student IAs, as an IA, it’s wise to act as if you are a Title IX responsible employee.

As a responsible employee you must:

As a responsible employee you must NOT:

When you report a real or possible incident of sexual violence/sexual harassment you will need to provide as much detail as you have and/or were given. Title IX might ask you for:

If a student approaches you with a Title IX-ish issue, you should say something like:

“I want to help you, and you’re welcome to talk with me about your concerns, but it sounds like you’re about to tell me about an incident involving sexual violence/sexual harassment. Before you tell me specifics, you should know that in my role, I have certain reporting obligations, and I want you to stay in control of the situation until you decide what you want to do. So, you’re welcome to tell me about your situation, in general terms, without identifying anyone. Or, if you just want to talk about a specific issue of sexual violence/sexual harassment, reporting options, or any support you might need, the CARE advocates are a confidential resource that you can use. I can help you connect with an advocate. There are also other resources you can talk with who don’t have the same reporting obligations.”

Getting an Office for Office Hours

Although you’re welcome to use your own office if you have one, or a coffee shop or favorite spot on campus, if you’d like an office in the Linguistics Department….

IAs can request an APM TA office reservation for their office hours by following our internal procedure, as follows:  1) If you need TA office hour room in the Linguistics Dept for your office hours this Spring, you will be scheduling this with me (Rachel Pekras), through an online Google calendar.  You will do this by clicking on this link here: https://linguistics.ucsd.edu/contact/ling-rooms.html. to:  2) select and view the calendar for the 3rd Floor TA Offices (APM 3331 A-E and 3351 A-E) and,  3) submit your booking request for your office hours

I will then reply to you as soon as I can with the confirmation of your TA office assignment for the quarter.

Faculty and IA Specific Resources

Note that for students of concern or academic integrity questions, your instructor needs to be notified and needs to handle these issues.

Student Resources for Support, Learning, and Interaction

Please see my Complete listing of student resources for information on student support (e.g. counseling, crisis centers, resource centers), resources for learning (libraries, writing help, and more), resources for engaging with faculty (e.g. Coffee with a Prof, Letters of recommendation), and technical resources.

Discussion Section Expectations and Goals

So, you’ve been asked to IA a class for Will Styler which includes Discussion Sections! Here’s some information about what I’d like to see in the sections, and how I’d like to see them run.

General Expectations for Holding Sections

I have a few specific expectations regarding the holding of sections:

Guidelines for Running the Section

While you’re running the section…