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Teaching Opportunities For Graduate Assistants(Toga)

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Improving the Teaching Skills of Graduate Students

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1146.1 - 14.1146.6



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Paper Authors


Elaine Crocker Memorial University of Newfoundland

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Elaine Crocker received her PhD(1980) in Education from the University of Alberta and has spent many years in different roles at the school district level. Elaine has also taught several years at the university level in curriculum and instruction. Currently, Elaine is a teaching consultant in the Instructional Development Office of Memorial University of Newfoundland where she is primarily involved in developing professional development programs for graduate students related to teaching and learning.

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Ramachandran Venkatesan Memorial University of Newfoundland

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Ramachandran Venkatesan received a PhD from the University of New Brunswick coming to Memorial University in 1987 where he is a professor of Computer Engineering. He is also the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science having previously been the Associate Dean of Graduate Programs in
the Engineering faculty.

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Steven Shorlin Memorial University of Newfoundland

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Steve Shorlin received his PhD in astronomy from the University of Western Ontario in 2004. He taught physics at Memorial University of Newfoundland for two years and is currently a teaching consultant in Memorias Instructional Development Office where his responsibilities include programs in teaching for graduate students, and graduate research support. His teaching interests include classroom engagement and motivation through proper use of demonstrations, technology and humour.

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Nabil Dawood Memorial University of Newfoundland

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Nabil Dawood is a Ph.D. student in civil engineering at Memorial University having completed his Master's Degree in Civil Engineering at Menoufiya University in Cairo, Egypt. Nabil's research focus for his PhD is the behavior of steel reinforced concrete panels subjected to direct tension.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Teaching Opportunities for Graduate Assistants (TOGA) Abstract

This paper describes the evolution and components of a program designed to enhance the teaching opportunities and expertise of graduate teaching assistants in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Memorial University of Newfoundland. The primary focus of the program is to provide professional development to graduate teaching assistants related to teaching and learning. It is a collaborative initiative involving the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Graduate Studies and the Instructional Development Office in the Division of Distance Education and Learning Technologies.


The Teaching Opportunities for Graduate Assistants (TOGA) program operating within the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Memorial University is underpinned by three main guiding principles: to enhance the development of graduate teaching assistants with respect to teaching and learning; to more positively impact the learning of undergraduate students; and to support the ongoing mentoring of graduate students by individual faculty.

Currently, graduate programs in many North American universities include opportunities for graduate students to experience teaching-related activities and professional development opportunities related to teaching and learning. Many examples of this resulted from the Preparing Future Faculty initiative in the United States1. Canadian universities such as The University of Waterloo, The University of Victoria, and the University of Western Ontario also offer such opportunities2.Wulff and Austin (2004) argue that graduate teaching assistants should be given a variety of teaching assignments as part of a systematic process3. This is possible within the TOGA model.

Evolution of Model

The original model for TOGA that was piloted throughout our university from 2005 - 2007 encompassed three main categories of teaching assignments for graduate student teaching assistants (TAs). Teaching assistants at level 1 were considered to be beginning or novice TAs who would not provide much direct instruction to undergraduate students. At level 2, a graduate teaching assistant would be more involved in providing instructional support to undergraduate students and employed in such roles as tutoring, providing assistance in labs, or facilitating small group discussions. At level 3, graduate teaching assistants would be assigned such roles as being a course teaching assistant (teaching to a maximum of three hours), a professional development facilitator for TOGA 2 teaching assistants, or a course curriculum assistant. A systematic program of professional development was organized and provided for the graduate teaching assistants at the TOGA 2 and TOGA 3 levels. Completion of a professional development program designated at each level is required in order for the graduate student to be eligible for a TOGA 2 or TOGA 3 appointment. When a graduate student is assigned to the TOGA 2 or TOGA 3 level, he/she receives a stipend of $250 or $500, respectively, from the School of Graduate Studies in addition to the normal compensation for the TA task4.

Crocker, E., & Venkatesan, R., & Shorlin, S., & Dawood, N. (2009, June), Teaching Opportunities For Graduate Assistants(Toga) Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5129

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