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Module 2: The teaching assistant


Taking on the role of teaching assistant involves a major change from your previous role – you are no longer a student. You are now a member of the teaching personnel, and thus represent both the Faculty of Science and Engineering and Linköping University.

This requires not only subject-specific knowledge and an interest in teaching methods, but also the ability as a teacher to demonstrate an open and welcoming attitude toward those who fall under your supervision.

For many assistants, this will be the first time they transition from being a student to being a teacher. This means that you will now work in a more explicit manner in pursuit of the same objectives as the examiner, course, department, and university. There are, however, often ways in which an assistant can perform their tasks more effectively.

This document provides examples of the various types of tasks that assistants may carry out, and the approaches that they are expected to take.


2.1 The various roles of a teaching assistant

A teaching assistant is usually a student who has been active as mentor, participated in Nolle-p, or wants to gain experience and qualifications from having acted as an assistant for one or more courses.

At the Faculty of Science and Engineering we exhibit a professional demeanour and treat all people accordingly. Thus, even if your duties appear to be “gender-neutral”, awareness of the processes involved in gender and gender equality will enrich your overall approach to education, learning and students.

Teaching assistants (for labs, classes and exercises) are employed solely for courses with large series of laboratory sessions or for courses with many different components.

The principal task of a teaching assistant is to help the examiner with the practical components of a course. The examiner and the teaching assistant or mentor agree on the actions that the assistant should take during each course. The role of teaching assistant usually includes:




  • Leading classes, including preparation for the class and any follow-up work that is required
  • Helping to design laboratory sessions and homework
  • Supporting and supervising laboratory sessions and exercises
  • Correcting laboratory reports and other submitted material
  • Reporting partial results to the examiner

The tasks of a teaching assistant may, in certain cases, include administrative elements such as scheduling, summarising the results of laboratory sessions, and the supervision of new assistants.


2.2 The responsibility and approach required of teaching assistants

The educational programmes at the faculty of technology are dominated by classes and laboratory sessions,thus it is in these contexts that the principals of equal opportunity must be considered. Since social relationships and communication are central parts of the teaching process, gender and other aspects of equal opportunity are automatically a central part of primary importance (see, for example, Wernersson, 2006).

Both employees and students at LiU have a responsibility to contribute to a healthy work environment and to embrace the principle of the equal value of everyone. The role that you as a teaching assistant take in any particular course will be jointly defined by the examiner and yourself. There are, however, certain overall areas of responsibility that all personnel and students at the Faculty of Science and Engineering share. These are:

  • to respect and support students
  • to encourage a frank, open and free dialogue on the objective matters studied, and on the methods and arguments used in your teaching
  • to be aware of and comply with the agreements you have reached with your examiner and/or director of studies  
  • to examine your own position of power. As teaching assistant, you hold a position of authority over students. Events that occur during teaching situations and in conversations affect the students, the quality of their study environment, and their performance.
  • to strive to plan ahead in matters that affect the working and study situations of other people, such that everyone has good opportunities for planning and to feel included.


1. Facts and figures

2. The teaching assistant

3. Gender in practice

4. Behaviour to be counteracted

5. Examples from courses

6. Teaching assistant experiences

7. Reflection

8. Plan for the gender-awareness course


Do you have any questions or comments? Or if you represent another organization or academy, and want to use this material? Please contact course coordinator:


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Last updated: 2020-06-29