OTAA Guidelines and Process

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Purpose of the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Graduate student teaching assistants (TAs) play a vital role in enhancing the teaching mission of the University. The Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award (OTAA) is designed to encourage and reward excellence in teaching and to recognize the contributions that graduate students make to the teaching and learning mission of Florida State University.

Selection will be based on the quality of teaching documented in a portfolio as well as on a letter of recommendation. OTAA recipients will receive a $750 cash award and recognition at the annual University-wide Celebration of Graduate Student Excellence, details TBD. For updates, check The Graduate School website or pie.fsu.edu


  • Graduate student TAs from all FSU academic units may be nominated
  • All FSU faculty/administrators, FSU staff who work closely with TAs, and FSU undergraduate students who are enrolled in classes that have TAs can submit a nomination (self-nominations or peer nominations are not allowed)
  • Submit a nomination for the 2022-2023 OTAA Awards! The nomination portal will close at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, January 18th, 2023. 


It is the nominee's responsibility to ensure that they are eligible to receive the OTAA award. In order to be eligible, nominees must meet the following criteria: 

  • Current FSU or FAMU-FSU College of Engineering degree-seeking graduate student hired as a teaching assistant (face-to-face or online) and in good academic standing.
  • TA at FSU for two completed semesters, at least one of which must have been during the Spring 2022, Summer 2022, and/or Fall 2022 semesters. Please note that the Spring 2023 semester does not constitute a complete semester, as it is still in progress. 
  • Previous OTAA recipients and current PIE Teaching Associates are not eligible for the award, but may be nominated.  

Award Criteria

  • The nominee facilitates and inspires student learning.
  • The nominee shows evidence of continued improvement of teaching practice.
  • The nominee engages in professional growth and leadership.
  • The nominee provides evidence that they have unique qualities that set them apart as a TA.


Stage 1: Nominations - Closed for spring 2023

Nominations must be submitted via this online nomination form by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, January 18th, 2023. Late nominations and nominations submitted by graduate students are NOT accepted. Please note that only undergraduate students, faculty, and non-graduate student staff member can nominate a TA. Nominees will be notified of their email once all nominations have been processed. 


Stage 2: Nominee Documentation - in progress

Once a graduate student TA has been notified of their nomination, in order to be considered for the award, they must first verify their eligibility to apply for the award, and then submit the electronic documentation packet (portfolio) described below by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, February 21st, 2023.

The supporting documentation should be submitted electronically as a single PDF file on or before the February 21st deadline through the 2022-2023 OTAA Canvas site. You may self-enroll into the Canvas site via this link: https://canvas.fsu.edu/enroll/68D34X. The submission instructions are provided below in Stage 3.

The committee expects that a real personality will emerge from the portfolio materials. All of the elements should demonstrate how the nominee practices what they do with clear examples that demonstrate that learning occurred. The nominee must make the important links between philosophy, process, and practice, and illustrate continual growth as an educator.

For eligible nominees to be considered for the OTAA award, the following materials must be submitted:

  • One letter of recommendation, submitted directly to pie-info@fsu.edu from a department faculty member OR staff member (not peers).
    • If possible, the letter should be written by someone who has observed the nominee’s work as an instructor and can speak to what sets the graduate student apart as a TA.
    • The recommender must save the letter as a PDF as follows: nominee last name_recommender last name (for example, Delgado_Zhang-Warner)
    • The recommender must send the letter directly to pie-info@fsu.edu as an email attachment.
    • The subject line of the email should read as follows: ATTN: FSU Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards Committee
    • Please note: The letter of recommendation is a required component of the portfolio and MUST be submitted by the recommender via email to pie-info@fsu.edu by the 11:59 PM deadline on Tuesday, February 21st, 2023.  
  • Eight [8] documents evidencing teaching excellence combined into a single electronic portfolio document. Please arrange all documents in the order outlined below.
    • For detailed instructions, please refer also to How to Prepare Your OTAA Teaching Portfolio
    • Please self-enroll in the OTAA 2022-2023 Canvas site (listed above) for assistance with assembling your award application materials.
    • Note that you will be required to upload your final application to the Canvas site. 
      1. Cover page
        • Full name
        • College, department, and degree program
        • Anticipated graduation date
        • The number of students you taught in Spring 2022, Summer 2022, and Fall 2022
        • Teaching position (instructor of record, lab instructor etc.)
          • *There are two categories to ensure that each nominee is compared with other TAs whose responsibilities are comparable:
            • A: The TA defines the specific course content and measures of student achievement while following general guidelines, such as course descriptions, broad reading lists, certain required assignments or types of assignments. Even though there is overall supervision by a course supervisor, the TA has very wide latitude and discretion in conducting the class.
            • B: The TA has more limited choices about content and assignments, and supervision is more direct. Teaching discussion sections associated with large lectures or teaching laboratories associated with either large or small enrollment courses are good examples of this category.
      2. CV
        • Please include an up-to-date curriculum vitae that emphasizes items pertaining to teaching.
        • Identify the professional development and leadership activities that have contributed to your success as a TA (i.e. presenting at conferences, attending workshops, receiving awards, serving on committees, participating in civic organizations, reading/self-directed learning).
      3. Teaching Philosophy Statement
        • This statement must be no more than one single-spaced page in 12-point font with 1-inch margins.
        • The teaching philosophy should be an introduction to the nominee as an instructor and to their teaching portfolio. The teaching philosophy provides an opportunity for the nominee to link all other parts of their portfolio, and serves as the conceptual framework for the nominee’s teaching and their portfolio.
      4. (optional) Diversity Statement (NOTE: the spring 2023 otaa portfolio has waived the diversity statement requirements; see announcements for more information)
        • This statement must be a one single-spaced page in 12-point font with 1-inch margins.
        • The diversity statement should explain how the applicant has - and will continue to - contribute to the development of a diverse and inclusive learning community through teaching, research, and/or service.
      5. Course Narrative – Course I
      6. Course Narrative – Course II
        • Arrange these two course narratives as follows:
          • Course 1:  Course Number / Title / #Students
            • Section one: Teaching Responsibilities
            • Section two: Approach to Teaching and Learning
            • Section three: Innovative Teaching Practice
            • Section four: Outcomes
            • Section five: Reflective Statement / Plan for Growth
          • Course 2:  Course Number / Title / #Students
            • Section one: Teaching Responsibilities
            • Section two: Approach to Teaching and Learning
            • Section three: Innovative Teaching Practices
            • Section four: Outcomes
            • Section five: Reflective Statement / Plan for Growth
        • The course narratives can be for any two courses in which the nominee was or is a TA at FSU. The two courses can be either two different courses or the same course taught during two different semesters.
        • Each of the narrative sections (Teaching Responsibilities, Approach to Teaching and Learning, Innovative Teaching Practices, and Outcomes, Parts I & II ) should be 200-500 words. Narratives should demonstrate what makes the nominee’s teaching at FSU stand out. 
          • Teaching Responsibilities: A brief description of the course and the nominee’s responsibilities for the course. 
          • Approach to Teaching and Learning: Describes what methods the nominee used to facilitate student learning in the course. This should include specific, concrete examples and may include references to appendices if desired
          • Innovative Teaching Practices: Artifacts, supplemental items, and/or narrative that the nominee wishes to include as part of their overall course narrative. Nominees should include a brief statement for each item of why you included the item and why this item is an accurate representation of you as a teacher. The nominee should include one or two items per course that best reflect the argument they wish to make about why their teaching at FSU stands out from that of other TAs.
          • Outcomes (Part I & II):

            • Part I. Provide evidence of faculty/peer/student feedback on your teaching
              • If you have SPOT/SPCI student evaluations then list the course and include a copy of the SPCI report and reflect on the meaning of this type of evaluation.
              • If you do not use the university standard SPOT/SPCI student evaluations, then include any kind of student/peer/faculty evaluation you have (mid-semester evaluations, peer evaluation, faculty evaluations) and reflect on the meaning of this type of evaluation.
            • Part II. Describe what your students are able to do as a result of your teaching, what strategies you used for assessment, and how you know your students are learning.
          • Reflective Statement/Plan for Growth: Describe the effectiveness of your teaching approach, what you learned about your teaching approach, what surprised you, and what you would do differently in the future
      7. Optional Appendices
        • Documents/items intended to support the assertions made in the course narratives.
        • Nominees should include no more than five.
        • The nominee can, if desired, include student written comments scanned from the evaluation instrument or other types of student comments. These comments should be chosen carefully. Quality comments describe WHAT the nominee DOES in the classroom that helps students learn, NOT simply that they are the best TA. Repetitive comments should be avoided. The committee wants to know why the nominee stands out!
      8. Eligibility Form
        • Sign the eligibility form (click here to download)
        • Obtain departmental verification that you meet the following eligibility criteria:   
          • You have been a TA at FSU for at least two courses. 
          • You have taught a course during the Spring 2022, Summer 2022, and/or Fall 2022 semesters.


Stage 3: Submission of Documentation

The nominee's completed portfolio must be submitted electronically to the OTAA 2022-2023 Canvas org site no later than 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, February 21st, 2023.*


OTAA Portfolio submission Guidelines for nominees:
  1. Self-enroll into the OTAA 2022-2023 Canvas site: https://canvas.fsu.edu/enroll/68D34X
  2. Read the “Start Here” page in the OTAA 2022-2023 Canvas site for important eligibility reminders and dates.
  3. Read all instructions and portfolio content requirements in the OTAA 2022-2023 Canvas site.
  4. Please note that the recommendation letter is mandatory and separate from your original nomination letter. Carefully review the instructions for requesting and submitting recommendation letters; your recommender must email their letter directly to pie-info@fsu.edu by the 11:59 p.m., February 21st, 2023 deadline.
  5. Consult additional resources in the OTAA 2022-2023 site as necessary.
  6. When your portfolio is complete, submit it via the assignment link as a single PDF file titled “OTAA 2022-2023 Portfolio” by 11:59 PM, Tuesday, February 21st, 2023.

*Please note that late or incomplete teaching portfolios will not be considered. ALL supporting materials, including one letter of recommendation from a faculty or staff member, (which is NOT the same document as your nomination letter – please refer to the “2022-2023 OTAA Guidelines” for complete details) MUST be received by PIE by the 11:59 p.m. deadline on Tuesday, February 21st, 2023.


Stage 4: Award Selection

Winners will be selected by an interdisciplinary selection committee comprised of faculty and senior graduate student teaching assistants. Awards are approved by the Dean of the Graduate School based upon the recommendations of this committee.

  • Awards will be announced no later than the beginning of April 2023.
  • Award nominees should plan to attend the Celebration of Graduate Student Excellence (details TBD). For updates, see The Graduate School website or pie.fsu.edu
  • For more information about award selection, refer to "How to Prepare Your OTAA Teaching Portfolio" and "OTAA Nominees Clarifications" in the OTAA 2022-2023 Canvas org site. 



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