What is an appropriate term for a (graduate) student who is meeting with a small group students on a regular basis and discusses with them the lecture and exercises? Or: Can someone explain me (as a non-native speacker) the difference between TA (teaching assistent), tutor and exercise group leader?

  • $\begingroup$ Nice question; I'm interested as well. It's worth noting that it's noting that in some German universities, the term tutor is used for a mentor-like job, and the guys who do the exercises are called exercise group leaders. $\endgroup$
    – Roland
    Mar 17, 2014 at 9:38

1 Answer 1


Maybe this should be a question on Academia.SE?

But I fear that the answer is "it depends on the institution".

At my undergraduate institution, "tutor" is a term reserved for undergraduate students engaged by the college to help out one of their fellow students who is having academic difficulties. Graduate student assistants whose job is to grade homeworks and hold office hours are called "teaching assistants". Graduate student assistants who additional also run exercise sessions are called "preceptors".

(In the education system associated to the health profession, "preceptor" are often synonymous with "clinical instructor". At Harvard, the word "preceptor" is used, among other things, to designate a faculty member teaching expository writing. Wikipedia also alleges that at some schools, certain mathematics courses are taught by faculty members termed preceptors; however I don't have personal experience to back that up.)

At one of my previous jobs, assistants (graduate student, postdocs, or tenured faculty alike) whose job is to run small-group (1 - 3 student) exercise sessions are called "supervisors". The same job at Oxford is called a "tutor".

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "It depends on the institution." is a great answer and it's at the perfect spot here. If we cannot expect that there is some fixed terminology for these jobs, all we can do is to be aware of this problem and be as specific as needed in our questions. $\endgroup$
    – Roland
    Mar 17, 2014 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ In my experience at about four different institutions in the western US, "tutor" is used to refer to someone who offers principally one-on-one instruction. These are often engaged by the college or university, but there are a few in private practice. $\endgroup$
    – Confutus
    Mar 17, 2014 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ "Preceptor" (at Harvard) is used by numerous academic departments. It appears to denote the academic underclass of un-tenurable adjunct positions renewed, if at all, on a recurring temporary basis (such as every year). For example, google.com/webhp?hl=en&q=site:http://… . It is not particular to writing or mathematics or any one department. $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Mar 18, 2014 at 22:07

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