Graduate Student Teaching Development Program

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.

Graduate Student Teaching Development Program Micro-credential


A Micro-credential

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.

Program Requirements

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:

  • Identify their existing teaching skills, philosophy, strengths, and individual development goals
  • Describe the roles and responsibilities of a TA, and available resources and support at the U of C.
  • Examine strategies for student engagement, presentations, writing learning outcomes, grading, technology, asking and answering questions, feedback, and effective communication

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, 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

UToday article: April 8, 2016
Graduate Students set up for success as they learn to teach: Initiative by Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning to build confidence among teaching assistants.
UToday Article
Impact: Analytics from UToday
593 page views
3.40 minutes average viewing time

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

Download (PDF, 118KB)

Teaching Controversial Issues

Instructors: Carol Berenson, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning
Valerie Pruegger, Director, Office of Equity, Diversity, and Protected Disclosure

Teaching Controversial Issues Initiative



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.
Brit Paris, Research Assistant
Kevin Saito, Technology Developer
Grace Whitehead, Program Coordinator
Leanne Wu, Technology Integration Specialist

ePortfolio authors:  Cheryl Jeffs, Carol Berenson


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *