Appointed as an AI

So, you just got appointed as an AI. Here is what you need to know.

What is an AI?

At Indiana University, graduate students who assist with the teaching and administration of courses are called associate instructors (or AIs). At other universities, this position is often referred to as a teaching assistant.

What do AIs do?

Associate instructors have many roles that include, but are not limited to the following: Teach labs, take attendance, conduct office hours, manage classroom, proctor exams, prepare prep questions, print course material and assist the course instructor, as needed. For a more comprehensive list of tasks, see our list of AI responsibilities.

How did I get selected as an AI?

Most of our AIs receive their appointments as part of their funding package. This is true for most of our PhD students, and some of our MS students. In this case, you will have been notified in your acceptance letter. Please note, that although you might receive your initial AI appointment as part of your funding package, this is not a guarantee of continued employment. You must perform your responsibilities diligently and to the best of your abilities in order to be assured of reappointment in future semesters.

We also provide AI positions to selected students (typically MS students) who are not otherwise guaranteed funding. These are hourly appointments and to not include fee remission or health benefits. More information about these assignments (and how to get them) can be found at our AI application page.

What is the TEPAIC exam?

TEPAIC is an acronym that stands for Test of English Proficiency for Associate Instructor Candidates. It is a test given to currently enrolled graduate students whose mother tongue is not English and whose academic departments have encouraged them to apply for the position of Associate Instructor. All non-native instructors are required to pass the TEPAIC before assuming an AI position that requires them to interact with undergraduates. You can find out more information about the TEPAIC at the Department of Second Language Studies.

When do I find out what course I will be working with?

In general, you will find out your specific AI assignment several weeks before the start of the semester. For the fall, this will typically be in late July; for the spring, mid-December. We try to finalize assignments as early as possible, but it takes time for enrollments to stabilize and for us to work out the many requests, constraints, and conflicts that are involved with course and AI scheduling.

Do I have any say in my assignment?

As much as is possible, we try to match AIs with courses for which they are well-suited and which will provide them with relevant and useful professional development. In order to facilitate this matching process, we ask our AIs to fill out an online application. The information we gather from this application helps us to make more optimal matches. If you do not fill out an application, we will do our best to find you a good match based on your stated research interests, previous experience, and faculty advisers.

Please note that we also receive requests for faculty who would like to work with specific students. We also try to honor these requests. Your faculty or graduate advisers have your best interests in mind, and may suggest an assignment for you that helps develop your intellectual or professional interests, but which you might not have otherwise selected.

What if I have a conflict with another course?

In general, AI assignments take priority. Serving as an AI is, after all, a large part of your job. That being said, if you have a mandatory graduate seminar that conflicts with your AI assignment, or are in some exceptional circumstance, we do try to accommodate your needs. If this is the case, send a message to aiassign@indiana.edu.

When does my assignment begin and end?

Your assignment begins on the first day of classes of the semester, and ends at the close of the semester (note, this is not the same as the end of classes). You are expected to be in Bloomington and available to your faculty for the entire semester. If you are hoping to arrive late or leave early, you must first confirm with your instructor. Failure to comply with this requirement can result in the termination of your AI employment.

For the 2015-16 academic years, for example, it is mandatory that you stay on campus through the last day of finals for the Fall semester, Friday, December 18, 2015 and for the Spring semester, Friday, May 6, 2016, as you will be required to assist with the grading of final exams. For the Fall semester, you should plan to start your Winter Break on Saturday, December 19, 2015. For the Spring semester, you should plan to start your Summer Break on Saturday, May 7, 2016.

You are responsible for confirming the start and end of the academic semester. You can find that information on the IU academic calendar.

New AIs (those students who will be serving as an AI for the first time) will need to arrive early in the fall for AI training and orientation.

What do I need to do to prepare for my assignment?

Excellent question! Congratulations on thinking ahead.

  1. First, you need to complete our employment checklist. This not only is required to comply with government and university regulations, but it allows you to get paid. You will need to bring some documents with you to the payroll office, and so do review the checklist well in advance of the start of the semester. Some of these documents you may need to bring with you from home, so be sure to prepare before you begins your travel to campus.

    If you are already in the payroll system, you will only need to sign a new contract at the beginning of the new academic year. We will contact you about how to do this, and in most cases you can complete this paperwork electronically.
  2. Second, you should review the SICE AI Handbook, which spells out in detail your specific job description as well as your employee rights and requirements. It also covers valuable information about student privacy policies, contact information for further resources, and advice about how to set up office hours, deal with classroom issues, and communicate effectively with students and faculty.
  3. Third, our goal is for our AIs to be as well-trained and effective as possible. Being an AI is essential to your professional development, and the experience can be valuable no matter what your future career plans. We provide our AIs with a wide variety of training, some of which is part of the AI Training Program. This is a mandatory program for all AIs, with the exception of those that have taken an approved pedagogy course. See more on these requriements at the AI Training Page

Are there other requirements or training that I need to be an AI?

Yes, the following three essential tutorials must be completed before the start of your AI assignment:

FERPA Tutorial: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a set of Federal regulations established to protect student information. In order to serve as an AI, you will need to complete the FERPA Tutorial and take the FERPA Quiz (which becomes available at the end of the tutorial). The FERPA Tutorial and Quiz together take approximately 30 minutes to complete. At the end of the FERPA Quiz, there is a form to fill out. You will need put Christi Pike or Jodi Pike as your supervisor and use soicpay@indiana.edu for the email address. Once you hit "Submit Information" you will receive a confirmation that you should save your files.

Plagiarism Tutorial: The School of Informatics and Computing takes plagiarism and cheating seriously. Anyone caught plagiarizing or cheating will face consequences. Therefore, all current and incoming students are strongly encouraged to complete the Plagiarism Tutorial and to complete the Plagiarism Test. It will take approximately 2 hours to go through the Tutorial and to pass the Plagiarism Test, so plan ahead. After you take the test, please print out the confirmation certificate, scan it, and send it as an attachment to infograd@indiana.edu.

Exchange Account: Because of FERPA regulations, any communication with students involving academic courses must occur over secure email. As a result, in addition to your regular IU email account, you must also set up an Exchange Account prior to the start of classes. You must use this account for all communications with or involving students in your courses. See the IU Knowledgebase for instructions about how to set up your Exchange email account. If you have trouble or need additional help setting up your Exchange Account, email soichelp@indiana.edu.

Additional Training: In addition to the above requirements that must be completed before the start of your AI assignment, we require AIs to have taken a 3-semester hour pedagogy (teaching methods) class. An authorized list of IU Bloomington pedagogy courses is available on the Center for Teaching and Learning (CITL) website.

If an AI has not taken a pedagogy class, additional training is required that covers pedagogical issues (how to teach) as well as policy questions (for example, sexual harassment and diversity training.) Some of this training will be covered in the AI orientation program for newly appointed AIs. Other training and workshops are required as part of the AI Training Program and must be completed over the first two semesters. One of the workshops that all AIs are required to take during their first semester of being an associate instructor is Creating Inclusive SICE Classroom & Lab Environments. For more information on the AI Training Program, please see our AI Training Page.

When should I start communicating with my faculty instructor?

As soon as possible! At the same time that you receive your assignment, your faculty will receive a list of his or her AI resources. For some faculty, this might involve 8-10 AIs per course. You can expect that your faculty instructor will contact you, but it never hurts to communicate early and often. Remember, your primary job as an AI is to assist your faculty. Be proactive, be communicative, and be responsive.

Will I be evaluated as an AI?

Yes. In addition to filling out a course and faculty instructor evaluation, students will at the end of the semester fill out an AI evaluation. If you do a good job, these evaluations can form a critical part of your professional portfolio. It is not unusual for a set of stellar AI evaluations to establish a job candidate as an excellent and accomplished instructor. Even critical evaluations can be enormously helpful in your development as a quality instructor.

Can I be fired from my AI position?

Absolutely. If an AI is not performing at the level of expectation or if the AI has transgressed rules and/or conduct as explained in the Student Academic Handbook, the department head and faculty can make an administrative decision to fire an associate instructor. Even if you have been guaranteed an AI position as part of your funding package, this funding is contingent on acceptable performance. We have unfortunately had to remove AIs from their positions. As you might imagine, this causes a whole host of problems for those students in terms of their funding, relationship with faculty advisors, and academic reputation.