UGP14_Lecture_8256_1366x768_16-9_sRGBe

Class teaching

The information below is intended as an aid for students interested in teaching opportunities in the Department of Economics, and provides answers to those questions that are most commonly asked.

If you have any comments or suggestions regarding this information, please contact Mark Wilbor, the MRes/PhD Programme Manager.

 

1. Why class teaching?

Since many of you will make your career in academia, class teaching represents useful professional training. Even for students not expecting to pursue an academic career, the experience of giving public presentations will stand you in good stead. This teaching can be a valuable and important experience, and can play a role in enhancing your CV.

Of course, no one should take on too much teaching so that it compromises his or her own course work and research. However, most students find the experience to be very helpful in their development as economists.

2. Duties and responsibilities of a graduate teaching assistant

You can find the complete job description here. In addition, the obligations and responsibilities of Graduate Teaching Assistants (and also lecturers and students) are laid out more fully in the Code of Good Practice for Undergraduate Programmes: Teaching, Learning and Assessment .

A summary of the main duties is detailed below.

Class teaching

Allowing for some minor variations between courses, the main duties of a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) are to support the weekly lectures by running small class groups of around 17 students using the problem sets provided. The lecturer in charge of the course sets much of the content to be covered in the classes.

You should be punctual for your teaching commitments. Classes run for fifty minutes, starting at five minutes past the hour and finishing at five minutes to the hour. You should teach for the full fifty minute period.

End your class on time out of consideration for your students and for the next class teacher scheduled to use the room. Leave your classroom tidy. Clean the whiteboard, log out of the computer, return furniture to default positions, and take all your materials out with you. If you find that another class teacher repeatedly overruns his/her class time, and/or leaves your room in an unacceptable state prior to the start of your class, you may drop Timetables an email informing them of your concerns.

If you need to cancel a class, if for example you are ill, inform Timetables as soon as you can. You should arrange to make up the missed class at the next available opportunity. Also tell the GTA Co-ordinator and the Course Lecturer as a matter of courtesy.

Preparation

In addition, you should spend time each week preparing well for classes, even if you are confident with the course material. Familiarise yourself with the course material, plan your class and try to anticipate questions students may ask. Course materials will be provided by the Course Lecturer. Over time you will become more familiar with the course materials, so the preparation time needed will be less.

Office hours and attending meetings

You will arrange one weekly office hour (two if you teach four or more class hours per week) at a time convenient to both you and your students. You will provide academic support, discussing course material and answering questions arising from the lectures and classes. Regularly remind and encourage your students to make good use of the office hours.

Room 32L.1.30 on the 1st floor of the 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields building can be used to meet with your students. To maximise accessibility, office hours and other open-door times should start and finish on the half-hour.

Depending on the course, you may be expected to attend some or all of the weekly lectures. There may also be weekly, fortnightly or less regular meetings with the course lecturer which you should attend.

Marking

There are variations between courses, but generally you will set and mark at least four pieces of course work over the year. You should read the 'Formative coursework' section in the course guide for the course you would like to teach for more precise information about coursework marking duties.

Course Lecturers will advise on the standards to which course work must be marked and will discuss the marking criteria, where applicable. Course work should normally be collected, marked and returned with written comments, within two weeks.

In the Lent and Summer Terms, you will be expected to undertake examination related duties such as script marking. You should be in London and not make any travel plans during January and May - June. Before you accept any offer of teaching you should bear in mind that you will be expected to mark scripts even if you are sitting your own examinations during the same period. It is not sufficient reason to opt out of marking because you have your own exams.

Administration

You should record student class attendance after every class using the Online Class Register system available via LSE for You. This is a strict LSE requirement for all GTAs.

You should also use the system to record marks for course work, failure to submit course work and instances of regular, unexplained absenteeism.

Another strict requirement of GTAs is to provide an end of term report (see Section 4.4) on each student, at the end of the Michaelmas and Lent terms.

Wherever possible, try to make concrete rather than generic statements. Be as objective and factual as you can. Avoid being too judgemental. Positive feedback is helpful since Academic Advisors can read your comments and may rely on them when providing references for students. Suggestions for improvement are also helpful. Since students can read your comments, please ensure that anything you write is appropriate for them to read. In general, it is best to take a supportive rather than critical stance, even if a student is performing below the required level.

The report also should include a grade for class work and class participation during the term.

3. Making an application

Who can apply?

Students registered on the Department's research programme generally undertake some class teaching as part of their overall training. Consequently, the majority of Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) are the Department's own PhD students. As a general rule, a GTA should have a postgraduate qualification in Economics, although qualifications in other related quantitative subjects such as finance, maths or statistics will also be considered.

Applications from MSc students studying Economics with a strong academic background will also be considered. Good references are essential. Previous teaching experience would be an advantage although not essential.

Applications from undergraduates will not be considered.

How to apply?

If you are applying to be a GTA, you should complete and submit the application form. Complete the application form as fully as you can, indicating the course(s) you would most like to teach and the number of hours you can commit to teach per week

If you have not previously worked as a GTA in the Department, ask someone who can comment on your academic abilities and who can give an opinion on your suitability for teaching, to complete the reference request form. The referee can provide a separate reference letter if necessary.

If you are an existing GTA applying for a renewal of a current GTA contract, the reference request form is not required.

If appointed, you will be required to show evidence of your nationality and therefore your eligibility to work in the UK before your appointment is confirmed. This can be a copy of the relevant pages of your passport plus any relevant visa stamps or a copy of your national ID card or National Insurance card.

To improve your chances of selection, you are advised to choose three or four courses, in order of preference, that you would feel confident in teaching. To help you decide which course is for you, take a look at the course outlines. Registered students can also view course materials in more detail

4. Hours and Salary

How many hours will I work?

Teaching five or six classes per week is the maximum teaching load recommended. This equates to 100 - 120 class hours spread over twenty weeks of active teaching, starting in September and finishing in March of the following year.

Students with their own taught studies and examinations to consider are advised not to take on too many hours so that it compromises their own studies. Three hours per week is the average number of hours generally recommended for students with their own studies and examinations.

In addition, you will arrange one weekly office hour, or two (if you teach four or more class hours per week).

You should also remember to factor in the time required each week for tasks such as prepararing for class, marking class assignments and class teaching related administration.

It's important to note, students are generally restricted to working a maximum of 20 hours per week during term-time. This is particularly relevant for overseas students with a tier 4 visa, as there are restrictions on the number of hours you are permitted to work each week. Check the LSE student visa advice website for further information on this.

Please bear this in mind before accepting any offer of work, particularly if you have another job, e.g. working as a GTA in another Department or working as a Research Assistant. As a guide, if you teach two classes per week, the time for preparation and other duties is included in your contract (please see section 2 above), so this works out at around seven hours per week. For three classes it is around eight and a half hours per week.

How much will I be paid?

You can see examples of the teaching contract and salary for teaching two, threefour or five classes per week. Note, there may be some minor differences in the salary between courses. Important news: a substantial increase in the GTA salary is expected in 2017/18,  to come into line with the salary offered at other London universities, in particular UCL. Precise details to come.

As well as the actual classes, the contract includes payment for time spent on holding weekly office hours, preparing for the classes, attending lectures and meetings with the course lecturer, marking of written course work during the term and administrative duties such as the completion of the on-line class registers and report forms as required by the Academic Registrar.

You will be paid extra for exam script marking in the Lent and Summer terms.

5. Offering Private Tuition

The School's policy on this says, that to avoid a conflict of interest, you should not agree to offer private tuition to students enrolled on the course you are currently teaching, irrespective of whether or not the student attends your classes. Similarly, if you are an Academic Advisor, you should not offer private tuition to the students you advise.

6. Selection and appointment

Although you are welcome to make an application at any time during the year, the main period for consideration of applications is April through to September preceding the new teaching year.

Applications are treated in the following order of priority:

  1. applications from current GTAs, who are also registered students, with a proven track record of teaching within the Department
  2. new applications from research students registered in the Department of Economics
  3. new applications from research students registered in a related LSE department, i.e. finance, mathematics, statistics
  4. applications from MSc students registered in the Department of Economics
  5. occasionally, applications from research students studying economics registered at other local universities, will be considered. Typically, these include Imperial, KCL, LBS, Royal Holloway and UCL.

In most cases, if your application is successful you will be assigned to your first choice course. However, this might not always be possible so you should be prepared to be flexible and fit in according to the overall needs of the Department. If your first course choice has been fully assigned, you will be assigned to your second or third choice. You will normally be assigned to teach one course only. Exceptionally, experienced GTAs will be assigned to two different courses. Additionally, it may not always be possible to assign the exact number of hours requested.

Once the course and hours have been agreed you will receive a letter or e-mail message confirming the details. If you have not previously taught at the LSE, you are required to attend a short series of training courses (see section 7 below) before your appointment can be confirmed.

You will also be asked to complete some minor pieces of administration in connection with your appointment. This includes completing a Personal details and timetabling constraints form. You should indicate which periods of the week you are NOT available to teach. This information will help the Timetables Office to schedule your classes at times convenient to you.

However, for Graduate Teaching Assistants who are also students on taught courses, you may still be waiting to receive details of your own course schedule. If this is the case, you should complete and return the form as best you can. If subsequent clashes occur between your teaching schedule and your own course schedule, the Timetables Office will make every effort to make the necessary changes later. You can keep a check on your personal teaching timetable  if required.

Your details will then be passed to the School's Human Resources Division who, after confirming your eligibility to work, will issue you with a contract of employment. You should confirm your acceptance of the appointment by signing and returning one copy.

You will also receive copies of:

You should complete and return these forms as appropriate.

7. Training and language support

Training

It is a condition of appointment that all new GTAs to the Department should attend a short series of training sessions. Even if you have previously taught at another university, you will still need to attend this training. These sessions are organised by the School's Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC). The sessions are scheduled mostly during the early weeks of the Michaelmas Term. The training is split into three parts:

Part 1: Introduction to class teaching at LSE & Assessment and feedback (whole day)

The first half of this session will provide you with an introduction to class teaching at LSE. By the end of the session, you should feel more confident to: 

  • run your first class and establish an effective working relationship with your students
  • plan your teaching and encourage active learning in the classroom
  • come up with ideas of how to get to know your students in ways that will help you support their learning
  • deal with different situations that commonly arise in the classroom
  • know where to turn for assistance/support. 

The second half of this session will focus on assessment and feedback. Throughout the year, you will be providing feedback and marking students’ formative work (i.e. work that should promote active learning, and let your students know whether and how they are progressing and how they could improve, but where the mark does not count towards their final degree result).

By the end of the session, you should feel more confident to: 

  • give effective feedback which supports student learning;
  • identify key elements of the marking/grading process aimed at improving the reliability and validity of marks awarded;
  • address the challenges that students face with their work, and know where to direct them if they need further support/assistance from others at LSE;
  • raise student awareness of referencing and citation in their written work.

Part 2: Micro teaching workshop (half day)

The purpose of this session is to give you the opportunity to practice a short piece of teaching in a friendly and supportive environment with a small group of peers and someone from the TLC team, so that you can review your own practice, receive feedback from others, and see how others might approach their teaching.

Part 3: Reviewing your teaching, writing student reports and references, and responding to student feedback about your teaching (half day)

The final session in the introductory series provides you with an opportunity to reflect on your first term of teaching, and examine possible ways to solve some of the challenges/problems you may be facing. It also discusses the process of writing end-of-term student reports. By the end of this session, you should feel more confident to: 

  • complete the termly student reports on LSE for You;
  • provide relevant material for student reference requests;
  • interpret the feedback you are receiving from your students through both formal (teaching feedback survey) and informal means, and make appropriate changes to your teaching in response to the feedback.

All new teachers should also attend the School's Welcome session for GTAs (half day), which focusses on LSE procedures and context.

GTAs will be paid to attend these sessions at a rate of £30/half-day, up to a maximum of 5 half-day sessions. Payment will usually be arranged through your teaching contract in December.

Those students who wish to take their teaching training further should also consider taking the LSE Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCertHE), a formal qualification in teaching in HE which is externally accredited by a national body, the Higher Education Academy. For more information about the LSE PGCertHE and other TLC teaching training, please contact the TLC Administrator.

For reference purposes, you may find the list of tips and techniques for effective class teaching  useful. You can also view useful and pertinent information in the Handbook for Graduate Teaching Assistants.

Language Support

One of the most common complaints received from students each year is that they cannot understand their GTA. This can be due to a particularly strong accent, talking too quickly or too softly. Therefore, for a GTA whose first language is not English, it is strongly recommended that you attend the English for Teaching Purposes training sessions  organised by the School's Language Centre. This training is for anyone involved in the teaching of students and is free of charge.  

8. Teaching Quality and Evaluation

Teaching Surveys

The Teaching Quality Assurance and Review Office (TQARO)  is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the quality of all teaching in the School. This is primarily achieved by carrying out a survey of teaching  in the Michaelmas and Lent Terms. Students are asked to complete a questionnaire, which asks a number of pertinent questions concerning their teacher and their overall teaching experience. Many of the questions asked require the student to rate the performance of their teacher on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 = unsatisfactory and 1 = excellent.

Every teacher who is surveyed, receives a copy of their individual results. The Head of Department and the GTA Co-ordinator receive a summary of the results for each teacher. The survey information is then analysed to identify areas of strength and weakness. Where a teacher appears to be struggling, he or she will be contacted by the GTA Co-ordinator to discuss the matter. Very often, encouragement and support are all that is required to motivate a teacher to improve their performance. Sometimes extra formal training is needed. On rare occasions, the teacher's role will be reduced or the teaching contract terminated.

The Department uses the survey information to identify teachers worthy of receiving one of the teaching prizes awarded annually by the Department. We also use this information during the Teaching Fellowship selection process (see section 11 below).

Classroom Observations

The Department also has internal mechanisms in place for monitoring the quality of class teaching. This is primarily aimed at new teachers and involves the course lecturer attending one of your classes early in Michaelmas Term to observe your performance and provide feedback. The observation should last no more than thirty minutes and will be arranged with your prior knowledge, at a time to suit you and the course lecturer. You will receive a completed copy of the Observation Record Form. Any areas of concern will be discussed with you by the course lecturer and/or the GTA Co-ordinator.

The Department may also request you are additionally observed by an Academic Developer from the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC). An Academic Developer will meet with you before the observation to discuss any particular issues you may have, and again post-observation to give feedback. They will also be able to give good advice of other methods you can employ to improve your teaching.

Direct Student Feedback

If a student has an issue with his or her teacher, they have the opportunity to draw this to the attention of the Departmental Undergraduate Tutor. The Undergraduate Tutor may contact you directly or refer the matter to the GTA Co-ordinator, who will provide feedback to the teacher concerned. Quite often, the problem is language related. A teacher may have a strong accent, or may talk too quickly or softly, i.e. a student whose first language is not English cannot understand the accent of the teacher whose first language is also not English. It is usually sufficient to bring the reported problem to the attention of the GTA to see an improvement in performance. Sometimes additional training is required.

By pulling all of this information together, the Department is able to identify teachers in need of additional support and encouragement. The Department will always seek to support teachers in the course of their duties. However, consistent under-performance will reluctantly result in the termination of an appointment.

9. September Course (EC400) Teaching

The September Course (EC400)  is an intensive pre-sessional course for new MSc and MRes students.

Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) are needed to teach classes on courses in:

  • Introductory Mathematics, Mathematics for Microeconomics and Macroeconomics
  • Statistics and Probability.

GTAs will generally teach a combination of the maths courses, or the stats and probability course, but not both. GTAs who are selected in 2017 should be available during the period 29 August to 22 September 2017.

Total hours of work vary from three to four and a half hours of classes per day, over a three week period. You should be prepared to hold office hours and revision sessions. You will carry out examination related duties, such as invigilation and script marking, at the end of the course.

You may also be asked to attend pre-teaching briefing sessions with the various lecturers for each section of the courses you teach.

If you are interested in applying for a teaching position, please complete and submit the application form. Note, research students in the Economics Department with proven previous teaching experience will receive selection priority. If you have any questions or require further information, contact the PhD Programme Manager.

10. Summer School Teaching

The Economics Summer School  is split into three intensive three-week sessions during June, July  and August. Most of the Summer School courses correspond to the Department's regular undergraduate courses.

Applying

If you are still interested in applying to be a Summer School GTA, a call for applications is usually made in early February.  If you are applying to teach more than one Summer School, you should complete a separate application form for each session:

The deadline for submitting applications for Summer School 2017 teaching has now passed. Further applications will not be accepted.

If you have not previously worked as a GTA in the Department, please ask someone who can comment on your academic abilities and who can give an opinion on your suitability for teaching to complete the Reference Request Form. If you are applying for more than one session, you only need to send the reference request form to your referee once. Additional reference letters may submitted to the Econ Teaching email address. 

The deadline for submitting applications is towards the end of February, with the actual selection process usually completed by the end of May at the latest. If you have any questions about the application process, please contact the GTA Co-ordinator.

Selection

Many of the Summer School Course Lecturers will automatically pre-select their Summer School teachers from the best performing GTAs who have taught on the equivalent LSE term-time course during the year. Alternatively, the Lecturers may want to retain the services of a GTA who taught on their Summer School course in the previous year.

After this initial selection process, all other applications will be considered and any remaining GTA vacancies will be offered to the strongest candidates. Appointments are made according to a number of factors:

  • previous relevant teaching experience, particularly teaching at the LSE
  • excellent results and feedback in LSE teaching surveys. If you are applying from outside the LSE, you should provide equivalent evidence of your previous performance as a GTA
  • information from referees.

Research students registered in the Economics Department will receive selection priority, followed by registered research students from other related Departments such as Finance, Geography, Mathematics and Statistics. Applications from registered Masters students will be considered, although it is rare for a Masters student to be selected for a teaching position. Applications from undergraduate students and from unregistered students will not be considered.

Duties

In addition to the class teaching, other duties will include course work marking, invigilating and marking mid-term and final exams. Your duties will end once you have completed the marking and you have agreed marks for the final examinations with the Course Lecturer.

Depending on the timetable and number of classes allocated to a teacher, classes are scheduled in the morning, or in the afternoon after lectures. Typically, you might teach one or two classes per day. Each class will be of 90 minutes duration. For one session, this will amount to 18 or 36 class contact hours.

Salary

For teaching one class, you can expect to earn in the region of £1600, for two classes it will be £3200. In addition, you will be paid £25 per hour for exam invigilation and £9 per script for script marking.

11. Teaching Fellowships

Around March each year, the Department advertises for a number of temporary, part-time Teaching Fellowship positions.

Applying

Applications are invited from candidates with a strong postgraduate degree in Economics or a related discipline, who are ideally in the final two years of their PhD. Whilst the candidates research is taken into account, the main selection criteria is whether your field matches the Department's teaching needs, and your past teaching record. Evidence of strong teaching abilities is essential.

Click here for details of appointments in 2016/17, including potential vacancies in 2017/18. Note, this is just a general guide, as the need for Teaching Fellows can vary each year from course to course, depending on available academic staff resources.

You should apply using the LSE's online recruitment system.

Your application should include:

  • a copy of your CV
  • a covering letter explaining the reasons for applying
  • two reference letters from suitably qualified individuals who can recommend your for appointment. At least one should be able to comment on your teaching abilities.

These positions are to cover for full-time members of academic staff who are on leave, and are tenable for one year in the first instance. Subject to satisfactory performance, an extension for a maximum of two further years is possible.

Note, the Department, in common with most US departments, has a policy of not hiring its own PhD students into permanent (tenure track) positions until they have worked elsewhere for at least two years. Thus, LSE students holding a Temporary Teaching Fellowship should not expect that it will eventually evolve into a permanent position.

Duties

Candidates should be willing to teach up to 60 hours of Masters level classes (3 classes x 20 weeks). 60 hours of classes is generally the maximum number of hours you will teach. This may involve teaching on two separate courses. Other main duties include undertaking examination marking and academic advising duties. A more detailed explanation of the duties can be found in the job description.

There are also other Teaching Fellow positions, such as Course Manager, for a number of large 1st and 2nd year undergraduate courses. This role involves providing support to the course lecturers and acting as a point of contact for Teaching Assistants and students. A more detailed explanation of the duties can be found in the job description.

It is important you realise, that by accepting the offer of a job, you are making a commitment to undertake teaching and associated duties during the full period of the contract, i.e. from 1 September to 30 August in the following year. You should therefore not arrange to be away from the LSE for extended periods, i.e. on field and research trips, particularly during term-time. If you wish to spend time away from the LSE during the period of your contract, please discuss with the PhD Programme Manager first before making any arrangements.

Salary

For a new Teaching Fellow starting in 2016/17, teaching 60 hours of classes, the salary was £16,345 (Band 5, step 23, on the 2016/17 LSE salary scale). Note, it's not always possible for everyone to teach sufficient hours to earn the maximum salary, so please be aware of this.

Teaching Fellows also receive an additional Departmental allowance of £500 per year for research related expenses, which must be spent in the year of appointment, and cannot be carried forward to the following year in the event of a renewal of contract.