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Engineering Teaching Assistant Training: Increased Engagement Using Varied Delivery Methods

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Training and Mentoring of Graduate Teaching Assistants

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.560.1 - 25.560.18



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Paper Authors

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Faizal Karim


Saloome Motavas University of British Columbia

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Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Deborah Esther Feduik University of British Columbia

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As manager of the professional master's of engineering degree, graduate programs, and as the Engineering TA Training Program Coordinator, this initiative falls into the UBC Faculty of Applied Science vision to provide support for graduate students to interact across all engineering disciplines.

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Engineering Teaching Assistant Training - Increased Engagement Using Varied Delivery MethodsThe university’s Faculty of Applied Science began a Teaching Assistant Training Program in2009. The program, designed and targeted towards engineers, is mandatory during a student’sfirst teaching assistantship (TA) appointment and students are paid to complete the program aspart of their contract. Senior TAs currently enrolled in the Doctor of Philosophy program in theFaculty of Applied Science, serve as the facilitators for the program and deliver the training. Thecontent and mode of delivery has been developed in consultation with the university’s LearningTechnology centre and the Applied Science Instructional Support centre. To date, over 430students have completed the program.Engineering’s undergraduate and graduate student populations originate from all over the world.While this diversity offers a variety of different viewpoints and adds to a larger pool of ideas andexperiences, it doesn’t come without its share of challenges. The TA Training program offered ataims to provide its students with the tools and skill set necessary to deal with these everydaychallenges by having the students participate in guided activities and discussions centered aroundculture and diversity. The training program is a full-day seminar split into two sessions; one onthe morning, and one in the afternoon. The morning session focuses on marking strategies andplanning skills while the afternoon session focuses on the TA-Student relationship. Timemanagement, task planning and communication skills were identified as crucial components ofthe TA experience, and thus are the central themes of the training program. Through this training,TAs will be able to identify the wide range of needs in the classroom and, be equipped with thetools and resources necessary to facilitate the learning in culturally diverse settings.The individual sessions are run by the facilitators through five general steps: identifying thesession’s objectives, establishing the relevance of the session, assessing what ideas andexperiences the group has already had, engaging the group, and closing. The engagement is themain task and here, the facilitators use open-ended scenarios, guided discussions, and groupactivities to explain and explore the concepts of each session. It is found that the most successfulactivities are the ones in which the trainees do much of the discussion after being prompted byrelevant question and comments from the facilitators.

Karim, F., & Motavas, S., & Feduik, D. E. (2012, June), Engineering Teaching Assistant Training: Increased Engagement Using Varied Delivery Methods Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21317

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