The Math Department at the University of Pittsburgh hires undergrads and
graduate students as graders.  This is handled directly by the Math

However, for 20 years, the Learning Skills Center at Pitt has been
responsible for recruiting, training, and supervising undergrads who serve
as Undergraduate Teaching Assistants (UTAs) in five courses (algebra and
trig level).  This fall, UTAs covered 44 sections of recitations for these
courses.  In addition, they have weekly office hours and meet every week
with the course instructor for supervision.

Until this year, UTAs have only graded homework.  Graduate student graders
were responsible for quizzes and exams. This year, as part of a pilot that
expanded the UTA program from three courses into two additional math
courses, the Math Department increased UTA duties to include grading
quizzes and assisting with grading exams under the direct supervision of
the instructor.  Athough I understand the department's rationale for this
decision (mainly an issue of having insufficient numbers of grad level
graders), I have concerns about this shift in the UTA role for both
practical and philosophical reasons. This will be a topic of discussion in
our negotiations for next year.

Therefore, I, too am interested in hearing opinions and experiences with
the issue of undergraduate graders.
Our situation is a bit different from Debbie's in that we train
undergraduate to serve as teaching assistants and their role is integral to
the courses they support.

Georgine Materniak
University of Pittsburgh
Learning Skills Center
311 William Pitt Union
Pittsburgh, PA  15260
(412) 648-7920

--On Tuesday, January 23, 2001, 4:40 PM -0500 Debbie Bailin
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:r

> Hi! I've been a dedicated lurker on this list, just soaking up all the
> good info, but now I need some specific advice/information.  Do any of
> you who have math tutorial centers ever hire undergraduate students to
> grade the homework of their peers?  A member of our math dept. insists
> that it is common practice in math to have undergrads grade the homework
> for the freshman level math classes, and he convinced the Academic Dean
> that this should be funded through my tutoring budget last semester(when
> the dean was brand new), but the subject is up for consideration again
> for this semester.
> There's a lot of history behind this that I won't go into because it would
> make this message way too long, but this math professor and I have had a
> running disagreement for years about whether or not it's okay to have
> undergraduate tutors grade the homework of peers. This year he abandoned
> the pretense of having the tutors just tutor and actually wanted me to
> hire a student as a grader. I refused, he went to the dean, and the dean
> sided with him while assuring me that the issue would be "revisited".
> So, (sorry for the length!) I'm really looking for ammo to take to the
> dean proving that it is NOT common practice to have undergraduate graders
> for freshman math classes.
> Thanks in advance for your input!
> Deb
> Debra Bailin, Director of Student Academic Development
> Lyndon State College
> Lyndonville, VT 05851
> [log in to unmask]