TA Awards

Campus-Wide TA Awards

L&S is pleased to collaborate with the Graduate School and the Morgridge Center to celebrate outstanding performances by Teaching Assistants (TAs) across campus. The Campus-Wide TA Awards recognize excellence in a variety of categories. Winners receive a certificate of accomplishment, a $1000 award, and will be recognized at the annual Campus-Wide TA Awards Ceremony.

The deadline to make 2022 Campus-Wide TA Award nominations is Friday, November 18 (end of business day). To make a nomination, have your department representative submit a Nomination Form, including a PDF of Supplemental Materials (described below).


Eligibility & Restrictions

  • Any graduate student who has worked as a TA may be nominated if they are meeting satisfactory progress requirements (as set by the nominating department) and are enrolled as a graduate student.
  • TAs may only be nominated for one award each year.
  • TAs cannot be nominated in an award category they have already won.
  • TAs may only be nominated once for the Capstone Ph.D. Teaching Award (for other awards, TAs may be renominated if they didn’t receive the award).
  • Each department may only nominate three TAs per year.

Review Committees

  • We need a diverse group of faculty and staff volunteers from across campus to serve on review committees. 
  • Each committee reviews nominations from one award category and selects winners. 
  • If you are interested in serving on a review committee, please contact Cathy Yu (L&S Administration).

Questions

Please contact Cathy Yu (L&S Administration) with any further questions about the nomination process.

TA Award Nomination Information

TAs are nominated by a faculty/staff member in the employing department (i.e. the department where they have held a TA appointment).

  • TAs who wish to be nominated should speak with their TA appointment supervisor.
  • Faculty/staff who wish to nominate a TA should speak with the department Chair or their designee.
  • As there is a departmental nomination limit of three TAs per year, departments are encouraged to develop their own system for determining which TAs to nominate.

All complete nominations must include the components listed below. Use the panels to the right to view the specific requirements for each award category. 

  1. A completed online Nomination Form  (see Additional Details to the right for a list of Form questions)
  2. A single PDF file including:
    • A list of teaching assignments at UW-Madison (course name, course number, semester/year)
    • 1-2 letter(s) of recommendation. Please review instructions for letter writers in the panel to the right.
    • Curated student evaluation comments (for some awards)
    • Nominee reflection

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Early Excellence in Teaching Award

This award recognizes outstanding performance by TAs with fewer than four semesters of teaching experience and whose performance is above departmental expectations for new TAs.

Nomination pdf file components:

  1. A list of teaching assignments at UW-Madison (course name, course number, semester/year)
  2. (1) letter of recommendation from a supervising faculty or academic staff member who is familiar with the TA’s qualifications for the award (see letter writer tips below). 
  3. Curated student evaluation comments: The nominee should select 5-10 comments from student evaluations that speak to their strengths as a teacher and write a short statement (max. 150 words) answering the following:
    • Why did you choose these comments?
    • What do they highlight about your teaching that you are proud of?
    • Do not include numerical rankings/evaluations. 
  4. Nominee reflection (max. 500 words): Describe in detail your most significant struggle or misconception about teaching. (To be clear, the committee wants to learn about your misconceptions or struggles, not the struggles or misunderstandings of your students.)
    • What made it apparent to you?
    • What practical steps have you taken in response?   
    • Specific examples and details will be looked on favorably.

Exceptional Service Award

This award recognizes TAs who perform exceptional service in the UW-Madison community, including volunteer work, committee work, and mentorship.

Nomination pdf file components:

  1. A list of teaching assignments at UW-Madison (course name, course number, semester/year)
  2. (1) letter of recommendation from a supervising faculty or academic staff member who is familiar with the TA’s qualifications for the award (see letter writer tips below). 
  3. Nominee reflection (max. 500 words) describing your service work.
    • What motivated you to undertake this work?
    • How it has contributed to your department, campus, and/or the broader community?

Innovation in Teaching Award

This award recognizes TAs who bring extraordinary creativity to their work and have developed or adapted teaching methods or techniques in new and innovative ways. Nominations should focus on the originality, creativity, and effectiveness of the TAs teaching practices.

Nomination pdf file components:

  1. A list of teaching assignments at UW-Madison (course name, course number, semester/year)
  2. (1) letter of recommendation from a supervising faculty or academic staff member who is familiar with the TA’s qualifications for the award (see letter writer tips below). 
  3. Curated student evaluation comments: The nominee should select 5-10 comments from student evaluations that speak to their strengths as a teacher and write a short statement (max. 150 words) answering the following:
    • Why did you choose these comments?
    • What do they highlight about your teaching that you are proud of?
    • Do not include numerical rankings/evaluations. 
  4. Nominee reflection (max. 500 words): Describe a time when you introduced something new into your class or your teaching.
    • What motivated you?
    • How did you implement this new idea?
    • What was its impact?
    • What did you learn?

Capstone PhD Teaching Award

This award recognizes TAs with an outstanding teaching record over the course of their UW-Madison tenure. Nominees must be dissertators at the end of their graduate program and planning to defend their dissertations by the end of the academic year.

Nomination pdf file components:

  1. A list of teaching assignments at UW-Madison (course name, course number, semester/year)
  2. (2) letters of recommendation from supervising faculty or academic staff members who are familiar with the TA’s qualifications for the award (see letter writer tips below). 
  3. Curated student evaluation comments: The nominee should  select 5-10 comments from student evaluations that speak to their strengths as a teacher and write a short statement (max. 150 words) answering the following:
    • Why did you choose these comments?
    • What do they highlight about your teaching that you are proud of?
    • Do not include numerical rankings/evaluations. 
  4. Nominee reflection (max. 500 words): Submit a reflection on your journey in teaching and learning at UW-Madison. This should include your growth, significant moments of insight, and major challenges you have navigated.

Dorothy Powelson Teaching Assistant Award

This award recognizes outstanding performances by TAs in the natural sciences.

Nomination pdf file components:

  1. A list of teaching assignments at UW-Madison (course name, course number, semester/year)
  2. (1) letter of recommendation from a supervising faculty or academic staff member who is familiar with the TA’s qualifications for the award (see letter writer tips below). 
  3. Curated student evaluation comments: The nominee should select 5-10 comments from student evaluations that speak to their strengths as a teacher and write a short statement (max. 150 words) answering the following questions:
    • Why did you choose these comments?
    • What do they highlight about your teaching that you are proud of?
    • Do not include numerical rankings/evaluations. 
  4. Nominee reflection (max. 500 words):
    • Describe one challenging concept in your field that students commonly struggle to understand.
    • How have you designed activities, materials, or discussions to help your students navigate learning this material?
    • How has your approach evolved over time?

Excellence in Community-Based Learning Teaching Award

This award recognizes TAs who have demonstrated outstanding instruction using a community-based learning approach.

Nomination pdf file components:

  1. A list of teaching assignments at UW-Madison (course name, course number, semester/year)
  2. (2) letters of recommendation:
    • from a supervising faculty or academic staff member who is familiar with the TA’s qualifications for the award (see letter writer tips below). 
    • from a community partner.
  3. Curated student evaluation comments: The nominee should select 5-10 comments from student evaluations that speak to their strengths as a teacher and write a short statement (max. 150 words) answering the following:
    • Why did you choose these comments?
    • What do they highlight about your teaching that you are proud of?
    • Do not include numerical rankings/evaluations. 
  4. Nominee reflection (max. 500 words):
    • Describe your use of a community-based learning approach, including your motivations for using a CBL approach, the outcomes for students and community partners, and lessons learned.

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Additional Details: Nomination Form

You will need to answer the following questions in the online form:

    • Are you able to certify the nominee is currently making satisfactory progress (according to their home department guidelines?)
    • Are you able to certify that the nominee has the endorsement of the Department Chair or their designee?

Nominee information:

    • What is the nominee’s first name?
    • What is the nominee’s last name?
    • What is the nominee’s Wisc email address?
    • What is the nominee’s home department?
    • What is the nominee’s campus address?

Nominator information:

    • What is your first name?
    • What is your last name?
    • What is your title/position on campus?
    • What is your Wisc email address?
    • What is your campus address?
    • We need partners across campus to help review award nominations. Would you be interested in serving on an award review committee?

Award information:

    • What category are you nominating this TA for?
    • You will then be prompted to upload a single pdf file containing the appropriate nomination components.

Additional Details: Instructions for Letter Writers

The letter should start by addressing these prompts.

    • Why is this TA a good fit for this particular award?
    • We know that only excellent TAs are being nominated. Why did you choose to nominate this TA over other excellent TAs in your program? 
    • Describe an experience you had or observed with the nominee that speaks to your decision to nominate them for this particular award.

The following letter content is generally unhelpful:

    • Vague statements about TA excellence
    • Quantitative data from student evals
    • Celebrations of “going above and beyond” to the point of overwork or self-sacrifice
    • Descriptions of research accomplishments or academic excellence unconnected to the award.

Teaching Mentors Program

The L&S Teaching Mentors Program (formerly Teaching Fellows) recognizes TAs from L&S who have achieved outstanding success as students and teachers. Teaching Mentors serve as instructors at the L&S Fall TA Training. The deadline for 2021-2022 nominations has passed. Please check for 2022-2023 information in Winter 2023. For details visit: L&S Teaching Mentors Program.