The International Teaching Assistant Program (ITAP) is responsible for ensuring through education, assistance, and assessment that graduate instructors, students who hold teaching assistantships and teaching postdoctoral scholars who are non-native speakers of English communicate effectively in the classroom as required by state law and university policy.
ITAP offers many services to assess and develop communication and provide cultural development as a basis for a rewarding and enriching experience in the classroom. These include:
As stated in Missouri statute 170.012 and University policy, every non-native speaker of English must have sufficient oral-English proficiency before taking on a teaching position. It is recommended that departments schedule assessments for candidates as soon as possible so appointment decisions can be made in a timely fashion. These assessments can be completed prior to enrollment (e.g., during a campus visit, summer).
ITAP provides on-campus, computer-assisted assessment called the MACCS (Mizzou’s Assessment of Classroom Communication Skills.) Students will be given resources to prepare for the assessment and a practice test when they are enrolled for testing.
The MACCS is given each month and additional dates are provided at the end of each semester. When testing must be expedited, ITAP will work with academic departments to accommodate their needs.
Please note that students cannot enroll themselves. Academic departments must enroll international graduate students in ONITA through the ITAP Canvas site. Please contact ITAP at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-884-1762 with any questions.
Assessment results are given as a proficiency level from 1 to 4. To find out more about the responsibilities a student/postdoc can take on with their current communication skills, please see the assessment result levels.
A candidate who does not receive the assessment results needed to accept a teaching appointment may not work in that teaching appointment and must wait six months before being reassessed. However, because language skills improve faster through consistent effort, students who enroll in a language development course at Mizzou, complete an individual plan of study, or take an off-campus English language course can be reassessed at the end of the semester in which the language improvement work is completed. Students/postdocs can be assessed no more than six times during their time at MU.
A TOEFL iBT speaking score of 28 or higher or an IELTS speaking score of 8.5 or higher can be substituted for a Level 4 language assessment. The department needs to contact ITAP about the student to be exempted and ITAP will confirm their scores through MyZou. Please note: this is an exemption of the language assessment only; it does not exempt an incoming student with a teaching assistantship or graduate instructor responsibilities from participating in the required orientation and early feedback program.
Students with a Level 3 language assessment and two semesters of excellent end-of-semester student evaluations of teaching, may apply for the “Alternative Path to a Level 4.” To learn more about this program or to apply, please see the Alternative Path Application Form.
ITAP encourages all non-native English speaking graduates students and postdocs to practice English speaking and listening skills with peers, faculty, and MU undergraduates through informal conversation, academic activities; and more intensive programs and classes.
Because language skills improve best through the consistent, focused effort of the classroom experience, the ITAP program offers three courses with a dual focus on explicit oral-language development and classroom cultural/communicative skills.
There are also a wide variety of language-development opportunities at Mizzou and in the larger Columbia community.
ONITA takes place during the week before the start of any regular semester. This orientation is required for all new international graduate students before the first semester of teaching or assisting with teaching at MU.
At the orientation, participants will:
Orientation instructors include expert faculty and instructors, experienced international graduate instructors and those with teaching assistantships (ITAs), and MU undergraduate students. Participants have found the orientation sessions to be extremely helpful in preparing for their actual teaching assignments.
Academic departments must enroll international graduate students in ONITA through the ITAP Canvas site. Please contact ITAP at email@example.com or 573-884-1762 with any questions.
ITAP provides several programs to support new ITAs as they begin teaching. These include:
ITAP staff members use these programs as tools to guide ITAs in evaluating their own performance and offer suggestions for teaching development and improvement. In addition, ITAs may use the consultation time to discuss any topics related to their teaching in a confidential environment.
All first-semester and second-semester ITAs must participate in ITAP’s Early Feedback program before the end of the fifth week of teaching as a continuation of their required orientation. Feedback will be solicited via a survey from undergraduate students in the ITA’s class. After the close of the survey, ITAP will meet individually with the ITA to review the feedback in a confidential environment. This gives the ITA the ability to reflect on teaching effectiveness and consider ways to become a stronger instructor.
ITAP will review the feedback with the ITA in a confidential environment. This gives the ITA the ability to reflect on teaching effectiveness and comprehensibility.
ITAP video records new and experienced ITAs and reviews videos with them. The decision to require video evaluation and review may stem from low early feedback, an course/practicum requirement, or a request by the ITA or the department for which the student is an ITA.
Missouri law and University policy require that international teaching assistants (ITAs) meet language and cultural orientation requirements in order to teach at the University of Missouri. International graduate students are also required to attend a college or university in Missouri for one semester before taking a teaching appointment. The one-semester residency requirement is designed so that international students can adjust to the differences presented by U.S. academic life and culture. In addition, the international student will be able to observe how teaching at the University differs from teaching in their home country.
Neither the language proficiency nor the cultural orientation requirements can be waived, but under certain conditions the chancellor can waive the residency requirement. ITAP can request a waiver from the chancellor on behalf of an ITA. Waivers are not automatically granted. They are given only under the following conditions:
In order to be considered for a waiver, the student must complete testing and the program must submit the waiver application at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester.
Hiring departments and programs interested in having international graduate students and/or postdocs teach or assist with instruction are responsible for the following: