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The Development of a Teaching Assistant Training Program in Applied Science: Design and Implementation

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Lessons for New Engineering Educators

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1439.1 - 22.1439.12



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Paper Authors


Faizal Karim University of British Columbia

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Faculty of Applied Science

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UBC Engineering Teaching Assistant Training ProgramThe University of British Columbia, Faculty of Applied Science, Engineering beganrequiring a Teaching Assistant Training Program in 2009. Content was developed inconsultation with the UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology and graduatestudent teaching assistants in various engineering disciplines. The program is mandatoryduring a student’s first teaching assistantship (TA) appointment and students are paid fora total of six hours of training. Senior TAs (facilitators) deliver the training to the largerbody of TAs. The effectiveness of the program was assessed through facilitator de-briefing sessions after each training module and solicitation of feedback from the TAsreceiving training. In 2009 there were 243 students and it is anticipated that 200 studentswill complete the program in 2010.It is recognized in engineering that given the makeup and size of the undergraduate andgraduate student population, there are several challenges facing TAs. The six hours oftraining are divided into two three-hour modules that address these challenges. Module 1(M1) focuses on the TA-Instructor relationship and the TA-Student relationship. Theserelationships were identified as a crucial component of the TA experience and thus clearguidelines and expectations are valuable to a TA. Module 2 (M2) focuses on markingstrategies and presentation and lesson planning skills. These are duties required of manyTAs so emphasis was placed on developing these skills. Professional expectations and,acceptable conduct (TA, instructor and students), and philosophical and cultural aspectsthat are unique to Engineering, UBC and Canada are discussed in both modules. Also,TAs are made aware of campus resources that can further aid them. With this training,TAs will be able to identify the diversity of needs in the classroom and to effectively findsolutions and resources.The modules are run by the facilitators through five general steps: identifying themodule’s objectives, establishing the relevance of the module, assessing what ideas andexperiences the group has already had, engaging the group, and closing. The engagementis the main task and here the facilitators use open-ended scenarios, role-playing, andgroup activities to explain and explore the concepts of each module. It is found that themost successful modules are the ones in which the trainees do much of the discussionafter being prompted by pertinent questions/comments from the facilitators.

Karim, F. (2011, June), The Development of a Teaching Assistant Training Program in Applied Science: Design and Implementation Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18915

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