On teaching assistant-task assignment problem: A case study

Guler M. G. , KESKİN M. E. , Doyen A., Akyer H.

COMPUTERS & INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING, vol.79, pp.18-26, 2015 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 79
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.cie.2014.10.004
  • Page Numbers: pp.18-26
  • Keywords: Teaching assistant-task assignment problem, Higher education planning, Goal programming, Analytic hierarchy process, Mixed-integer linear programming, ANALYTIC HIERARCHY PROCESS, GENETIC ALGORITHM METHODS, SCHEDULING MODEL, SYSTEM, OPTIMIZATION, PREFERENCES, DECISION


Teaching assistants (TAs), together with the senior academic staff, are the centerpiece of university education. TAs are primarily graduate students and they undertake many of the academic and administrative tasks. These tasks are assigned at the beginning of each semester and the objective is to make fair assignments so that the loads are distributed evenly in accordance with requests of the professors and assistants. In this study, a goal programming (GP) model is developed for task assignment of the TAs in an industrial engineering department. While the rules that must be strictly met (e.g., assigning every task to an assistant) are formulated as hard constraints, fair distribution of the loads are modeled as soft constraints. Penalties for deviation from the soft constraints are determined by the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP). The proposed GP model avoids assigning the same TA to the same task in several consecutive academic years, i.e., sticking of a task to a TA. We show that the proposed formulation generates better schedules than the previously used ad hoc method with a much less effort. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.