At Carleton, the Educational Development Centre (EDC) offers TA
training, both at the beginning of the year in a one day multi-workshop
event and throughout the year in the form of Brown Bag sessions. There
is a cap on the size of group. At the beginning of the year I usually
have 60 or so TAs in my workshops. In the Brown Bags throughout the
year, there are usually between seven and fifteen.
Some of the training is focussed on writing instruction as well as many
other topics, like facilitating discussion, handling "incidents" during
office hours, etc. The EDC invites people from across the university
to share their expertise. I do the sessions about writing, for
instance. TAs are required to do a certain number of hours of
training, and they get to choose which sessions to attend. Also, they
are allowed to exceed their training hours, of course. For each
session they attend, their attendance is recorded and they receive a
certificate that they can put in their teaching portfolio.
I don't know what the results are, though if you are interested you
could get in touch with the EDC at Carleton. The director's name is
Carol Miles. The person who coordinates the workshops is Maggie
My personal take on the situation is that I'm glad we do *something*
about TA training, and I'd like to see it improve in various ways.
Mainly, I would like to see TAs get more support throughout the year
from multiple sources inside their departments. A mentor within the
discipline would be a good idea. I'd also like to see international
TAs get a lot more understanding and support throughout the university.
Outside their departments, TAs have support from the WTS, both for
consulting about teaching writing and as a place to refer students for
one-on-one help. They have Brown Bags, for those who opt to take them.
And there is a course offered called "Seminar in University Teaching"
which offers both inspiring content and an opportunity to talk with
others who are teaching.
Wendy Strachan wrote:
>In trying to implement Writing-Intensive courses at SFU across the
>disciplines at both the lower and upper division, we are also figuring
>how to prepare the TAs who are working with faculty in large first year
>courses. We've instituted a reduction in tutorial size to 15 with
>having a maximum of 3 sections in a course, but the question of
>continues to be a challenge. Hiring practices governed by the union
>our seeking out TAs who are a bit along in their course work and have
>experience of teaching, so most are entering graduate students who are
>assigned TA-ships as a source of funding.
>While we can't do much about that at the moment, we can require that
>have some pre-W-course training to help them handle the instruction and
>responding to writing for which they are largely responsible. Since we
>longer have a writing centre to which students can go for individual
>the TAs are not operating in a one-on-one tutoring context - they are
>working with groups on writing in content courses.
>We' re wondering how others of you work with TAs and do this training:
>When? how much time? in what contexts? how many TAs at a time, in a
>workshop setting? do you have programs or courses within or outside
>departments? are these credit or non-credit? required or voluntary?
>tehy designed for overall teaching training or focusing on writing?
>I'm looking at US institutions as well since there is a long-established
>tradition there of preparing TAs who work in the first year composition
>courses but I'm hoping there is a bank of Canadian models to draw on.
>know this is the place to go to find out!
>Many thanks for any ideas and information,
>Wendy Strachan PhD.
>Director, Centre for Writing-Intensive Learning
>Simon Fraser University
>Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6
>Office: AQ 6205
>email: [log in to unmask]
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To leave the list, send a SIGNOFF CASLL command to
[log in to unmask] or, if you experience difficulties,
write to Russ Hunt at [log in to unmask]
For the list archives and information about the organization,
its newsletter, and the annual conference, go to