I. Oral Communication Competence of International Teaching Assistants (ITAs)

The Center for Communication Excellence (CCE) works with departments and programs with their language testing needs through the Oral English Certification Test (OECT) and language and teaching support through Engl 180 courses. These services help departments and programs to fulfill the Board of Regents' mandate that is implemented through the ISU faculty policies.

The ISU faculty handbook outlines the supervision of ITAs and the arrangement of instructional assistance for them as follows:

5.6.1 Policy and Procedures for Evaluating Proficiency

The supervision of teaching assistants and the maintenance of teaching proficiency standards are the responsibilities of the hiring department. To that end, departments or programs in which teaching assistants perform their duties will evaluate their teaching proficiency at the end of each academic period. The nature and scope of these evaluations will vary with the instructional setting and the materials being taught. Evaluations of teaching assistants will encompass the following aspects of teaching as mandated by the Regents policy:

  • knowledge of the subject material at a level appropriate for the course being taught
  • proficiency in oral and written communication in formal and informal instructional settings
  • ability to evaluate student performance appropriately
  • facility with appropriate instructional materials and equipment

The departmental faculty has the responsibility to mentor and arrange instructional assistance for students who teach. Policies for evaluation need to be developed at that level to ensure both the quality of instruction and the sustained development of the teaching assistants' professional skills. Written standards and procedures for these evaluations should be developed in a collegial way at the department level and be provided to teaching assistants at the outset of their teaching appointments. Special attention should be paid to assuring that the standards, review procedures, and the evaluations themselves are fully communicated to the teaching assistants involved. Evaluations should take into account the assistants' knowledge of the subject matter, their ability with written and spoken English, and the social dynamics of the classroom including matters of age, gender, and cultural diversity. Student input will be included in evaluation.

The department chair and program directors, college deans, and the provost are responsible for the implementation of this policy and for ensuring that adequate standards of teaching proficiency are maintained among departmental teaching assistants.

(Also see 10.7.1 Oral Communication Competence) Approved by the Faculty Senate on November 19, 2009 and by the president and provost on November 30, 2009

10.7.1 Oral Communication Competence Section

10.7.1 was approved by the Faculty Senate on 5/07/1991.

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa Policy on Oral Communication Competence mandates that all faculty and teaching assistants who provide instruction to students during each relevant academic period will be evaluated for oral communication competence. In the context of this policy, oral communication competence is understood to be the ability to communicate appropriately in the language of instruction. The nature and scope of the evaluation of oral communication competence may vary with the discipline, instructional setting, and material being communicated. The following guidelines apply:

  • Written standards and procedures for making the determination of oral communication competence will be developed at the departmental or program level in a collegial manner and will incorporate a mechanism for evaluation of instructors by students.
  • Departments will complete such evaluations within the timeframe designated by the Regents policy, i.e., "by the end of each academic period in which [the instructor] has sufficient direct contact with students to render such evaluation meaningful."
  • Procedures developed within departments must be written and implemented cooperatively by the teaching faculty and the departmental administration.
  • The evaluation of oral competence need not function separately from other evaluation procedures as long as such established procedures meet the Regents requirements for timeliness and student input, and they explicitly address the matter of oral communication.
  • The departmental chairs and program directors, college deans, and the provost are responsible for the implementation of this policy and for ensuring that adequate standards of oral communication competence are maintained.

(IC 262.9(25)BRPM 3.21)


II. Program Handbook for Departments and Interdepartmental Programs

This document, OECT for Program Handbook, contains information about language proficiency requirements for all international graduate students including ITAs. Departments and interdepartmental programs who wish to create or revise their program handbooks may use this draft as a starting point to craft their policies about the OECT and the English Placement Test (EPT).

The document contains additional questions to guide departments and programs if they wish to create more detailed policies for their ITAs. It's recommended that those questions are used in conjunction with the information from this page, Understanding Results.

Departments who wish to update their handbook can email Lily Compton at lcompton@iastate.edu for assistance.


III. Additional Information for DOGEs, Program Advisors, and  Program Coordinators

  • The hiring department of ITAs is in responsible for tracking the ITAs' OECT status and matching their teaching responsibilities based on their OECT results. See Understanding Results.
  • DOGEs and program coordinators can request to be added to the OECT portal to get access to their students' OECT records.
  • DOGEs and program coordinators should email itas@iastate.edu if they need to check their ITAs' status but the ITAs’ records are not available via the OECT portal.
  • Graduate program advisors should work with their ITAs' course and teaching schedules so that they can take the English 180 courses concurrently with their teaching duties.