Calculus Course Assistants

Calculus Course Assistant Overview
All of Harvard’s calculus classes (Math Ma, Mb, 1a, 1b, 18a, 19a, 18b/19b, 21a, 21b) are taught in small sections of around 20-30 students. Each section meets three times a week (on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), taught by an instructor called a Teaching Fellow (TF), who is either a faculty member or graduate student in the math department. Each Course Assistant (CA) is associated with one calculus section and is responsible for working with the TF to ensure the success of the section and its students.

Job Responsibilities
Course Assistants have five main responsibilities:

  1. CAs attend all of their section’s classes in order to collect p-sets and return graded work, see what is being taught by the TF, proactively help students work through the new material being taught, and note the topics which are difficult for students.
  2. CAs do all of the homework grading for their section during the semester – students typically turn in a problem set each class period, and CAs are normally expected to grade the work and get it back to the students at the next class meeting. CAs maintain the grade book, and make a weekly report of the grades and any common mistakes to the TF.
  3. CAs work in the Math Question Center (MQC) for a two hours during each week. The MQC is a community where calculus students can get math help from CAs and each other. The MQC is held in the Science Center, and is open on Sundays through Thursdays 7:30-10:30 pm.
  4. CAs attend a weekly meeting with their TF to check in and set goals and expectations, as well as to discuss their students’ performance. CAs also attend a larger weekly meeting with a course administrator to stay informed on course content, problem sessions, and workshops.
  5. Some CAs will run a weekly workshop or problem session, in which students will reinforce material from class by discussing homework questions, doing problems on recent course material, or taking quizzes.

CAs are expected to adequately prepare for all of the responsibilities listed above ahead of time. CAs are also expected to keep regular communication with the calculus CA coordinators and other math department faculty. However, CAs are NOT expected to perform the duties of a TF, such as leading section, making copies of section worksheets, writing homework solutions, writing exam problems, grading exams, etc.

The CA position is a great job for those people who want to get involved in teaching math, and in interacting with students to help them learn. It is also a real responsibility – this is a professional job, and we expect that CAs will meet all of the requirements during the semester and not let down either their TFs or the students in their sections. Students in calculus classes really count on the CAs to help them out – quite a number of students find it easier to relate to the CAs in their courses than their TFs, and often cite their CAs as a primary reason for their success in the class.

Pay Scale
For a full-time calculus CA, the job usually takes about 15 hours per week on average. The pay rate for a full-time CA is $23 per hour. CAs are paid on a weekly basis.

Prerequisites
All calculus course assistants must be current Harvard University undergraduate students who are enrolled in courses full-time, either on campus or remotely. CAs must have completed at least two full semesters at the university. We do not hire first-year undergraduates as CAs, since we want to encourage first-year students to focus on their studies and acclimating to life at Harvard before taking on such a large responsibility. Also, all CAs must be in good standing with the college, academically and otherwise, with a GPA of at least 3.0. Lastly, all CAs must have satisfactorily taken at least Math 1b or a higher-numbered course such as Math 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 55, or 101.

How To Apply
If you are interested in becoming a CA for the Spring 2024 semester, submit the application form here by the priority deadline of November 15, 2024. Applications after that date will be considered on a rolling basis. If you have any questions about the job, please contact: Mario Stipčić, stipcic@math.harvard.edu.