Description of Activity
The Graduate Student Teaching Development Program is designed to provide evidence-based educational development in order to build the teaching capacity of graduate students at the University of Calgary. The program consists of a comprehensive workshop series on topics related to graduate student teaching, with opportunities for discussion, practice and reflection. The program benefits students in their current and future teaching assistant (TA) or teaching roles, within and beyond the academy.
Upon successful completion of the program requirements, a micro-credential, Badge, is awarded. The Badge demonstrates participation in professional learning and can be displayed and shared through social media, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Mozilla Open Badges, and WordPress. https://badges.ucalgary.ca/ti/badges
To earn the Graduate Student Teaching Development Program in 2015-2016, participants are required to complete a minimum of five workshops (selecting from a roster of *12) over the course of a fall/winter term. Most workshops are offered in both the fall and winter terms, providing students with choice and flexibility to complete the program.
Students are encouraged to keep notes (a handout is provided) of their learning during and after each workshop to begin the reflection process. After completing five workshops, students submit a reflective statement summarizing their key learnings; how and why their beliefs about teaching and learning have evolved and/or changed; and what skills or strategies they have implemented or plan to implement as a result of attending the workshops.
Program Level Learning Outcomes
At the completion of the Graduate Student Teaching Development Program, participants are able to:
Enrolment and Badges Awarded
In the first year of the Graduate Student Teaching Development Program (2015-2016), a total of 224 students attended at least one workshop. Students from 12 faculties, schools, and units participated, 50 students self-enrolled in the Graduate Student Teaching Development Program D2L course, and a total of 23 students earned the micro-credential Badge.
Assessment Strategies and Results
Evaluation data from each of the workshops in the Graduate Student Teaching Development Program is collected and ongoing. The feedback collected during the first year has informed the program planning, and as a result more workshops (recommend by the students) have been added, plus more flexible timing for completion of the program requirements.
A comprehensive program evaluation of is being conducted in the fall of 2016, and results will be published in winter 2017. To date, the preliminary program evaluation findings include:
In 2015-2016, students who participated in the Program report a variety of experiences, learning, and reflection on their development as teaching assistants. A sample of summary reflective statement that demonstrate their experiences, learning, and change (randomly selected statements):
“Now I am actively thinking how I can design activities to engage my students within the class.”
“One strategy in particular that I liked (and have already used) was when students are asked to think about the answer to the question individually, then do a pair-share, and then discuss it with the class as a whole.”
“Participating in these workshops, and discussing teaching and learning issues, continues to provide me with new tools to use in the classroom, and new perspectives on teaching and learning issues.”
“These workshops also allow me to reflect on my own teaching progress: on what has gone well (and why), and what has not gone so well (and how I might change/avoid those situations in the future).”
Reflection and Impact
It appears the Graduate Student Teaching Development Program is valuable for student learning, is sustainable, and will continue to be a focus of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.
After the pilot year, and preliminary data analysis, there is an indication the program is meeting the needs of teaching assistants and is providing evidence-based, pragmatic opportunities for learning and teaching development.
The demand for workshops continues in the 2016-2017 academic year and the enthusiasm to earn a badge is growing. This program has informed the future development of a Certificate for graduate student teaching development, to further the strategic priorities and goals of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.
*The 2016-2017 program grew to include 18 workshops, and most of the workshops are endorsed by My GradSkills http://www.ucalgary.ca/mygradskills/workshops, the University of Calgary Faculty of Graduate Studies.
Documentation and Materials
Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning
Additional information and materials are available from the Graduate Student Teaching Development Website http://ucalgary.ca/taylorinstitute/teaching-development
UToday article: April 8, 2016
Examples of Graduate Student Teaching Development Workshops
The following are two selected examples from the Graduate Student Teaching Development Program. 1. TA Orientation Day Panel Presentation: What Makes a Great TA?, and 2. Teaching Controversial Issues.
TA Orientation Day Panel Presentation – What Makes a Great TA?
Panelists: Sarah Anderson, Cumming School of Medicine; Muhammad Khan, Department of Mathematics & Statistics; Jess Nicol, Faculty of Arts, Department of English.
Moderator: Cheryl Jeffs, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning
Teaching Controversial Issues
Instructors: Carol Berenson, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning
The authors wish to acknowledge the Instructors and the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning team who support and administer the Graduate Student Teaching Development Program.
ePortfolio authors: Cheryl Jeffs, Carol Berenson