Graduate Students as Instructors

Almost all graduate students are responsible for transmitting knowledge to other students in the course of their academic program. Often this role comes as a result of being hired as a Teaching Assistant (TA). TA tasks, while varied across the disciplines, often involve some combination of planning, facilitation, evaluation, and providing students with meaningful feedback. Due to their integral link to undergraduate student learning, TAs are an important part of the university community and the teaching staff.  With many opportunities available for graduate students to develop their skills as instructors, the aim of TA development is to enhance current teaching effectiveness while also preparing graduate students to take on expanded roles as educators both inside and outside of higher education.

Developing a Teaching Dossier

Teaching dossiers are important documents for graduate students who are preparing for careers in a university setting, as they are often required during hiring and promotion processes in academia. A teaching dossier summarizes major teaching accomplishments and strengths and provides a selective account of best practices. More than just a container to showcase instructional materials, it is both reflective and qualitative in its assembly and involves the collection and presentation of materials in a concise manner.

Workshops are held to assist students to develop documents for their teaching dossier as well as how to post their dossier online using tools such as the Desire2Learn e-portfolio system.
Register for the Developing a Teaching Dossier workshop.

Evaluating Your Teaching Effectiveness

Instruction is an experiential process where reflection on your current approaches and feedback from students can inform future practices. Critically reflecting on your past and current practise can lead to improvement in the future. Learning effective strategies to gather and interpret feedback on your teaching can offer opportunities for personal insight and continual improvement.

Fostering Discussion in Seminars and Labs

Discussion remains one of the most commonly applied teaching techniques in higher education. Workshops on facilitating discussion explore topics such as how to: effectively engage learners in discussion; encourage equal participation; deal with conflict and disagreement and; establish criteria for assessing participation in class discussions.

Evaluation & Feedback

Any TA will have responsibilities surrounding grading student work and providing feedback. Share strategies and resources in our workshops to help you ensure that the process of grading is fair, efficient and effective. Participants also explore how to give effective feedback and strategies to manage their own time.

Instructional Strategies and Theories

A key to being an effective TA is developing a “tool-box” of strategies, skills, and knowledge that you can use to communicate course material to your students in order to enhance their learning. Workshops exploring educational theory are available to graduate students.TAACtics, an informal graduate student pedagogy discussion group, also meets monthly to discuss teaching strategies, self-promotion, effective lesson planning and seminar leading in a supportive, peer atmosphere.

Supporting Your Role as a Teaching Assistant

We offer individual and small-group consultations to foster the development of teaching assistants by providing advice and assistance related to specific teaching and learning issues. Classroom observation and teaching dossier feedback are just two of the consultative services provided. Confidentiality is assured. Please contact Dr. Erin Aspenlieder, Educational Developer at  for further information.