Twenty-eight years ago, a survey of McMaster undergraduate students indicated a need for improved instruction by teaching assistants. In response, the Centre for Leadership in Learning (CLL) created TA Day, a one-day series of workshops addressing the challenges teaching assistants face when interacting with undergraduate students.
In the years since, TA Day has proven to be a highly valued component of a teaching assistant’s learning experience, and evidence of McMaster’s continued commitment to excellence in education. This year, TA Day will take place in the Burke Science Building on Wednesday, Sept. 3.
“In 2008, we are focusing even more than ever on topics that teaching assistants have identified as being the most important areas of concern,” says TA Day coordinator Paul Szego.
The workshops will cover topics such as Stimulating Discussions, Making Effective Presentations, The First Tutorial and Teaching in a Different Culture. Each workshop is led by members of the McMaster TA Network, comprised of graduate students who have been identified as leaders in teaching and instruction.
“The great advantage of having TA Network members run the workshop is that these individuals embody the qualities aspired to by most instructors,” says Szego.
“They are some of the most enthusiastic and dedicated teaching assistants at McMaster, but they also remember that they were once new and nervous TA’s — just like many of our attendees, who want to learn how to become great instructors.”
In addition to these instructional workshops, professors from across the University will also be discussing the topic, What Do TAs Actually Do? This workshop consists of a frank round-table discussion about expectations and responsibilities from the professors’ point-of-view.
“TA Day is important because it gives us an opportunity to welcome the new teaching assistants to the University, while providing them with the information and the skills that they will need to contribute to the high-quality education we offer to our undergraduate students. It also allows returning TAs to hone those skills,” says Peter Smith, associate vice-president (academic).
This year, TA Day will be a more intimate event, focusing on pedagogy as a student-instructor with smaller group sizes for increased interaction between audience and speakers.
Free workshops take place in the morning, with many departments hosting specific events in the afternoon. The day’s activities end with a party at the Phoenix Restaurant and Bar. Anyone interested in attending the free workshops can find more information, including registration, atwww.mcmaster.ca/cll. Please note that registration is online only.