Teaching assistants had a chance to learn about academic policies and principles of effective instruction at the first universitywide TA training session hosted by the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE).
The training, held Aug. 24 at Rice’s BioScience Research Collaborative, was facilitated by Joshua Eyler, CTE director, and Elizabeth Barre and Robin Paige, both assistant directors of the CTE.
“We designed this training at the request of many departments here at Rice, and we worked closely with the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies as we put the pieces in place,” Eyler said. “TAs are truly collaborators in the teaching and learning that happens here at the university, and we wanted to provide support for them in their various roles.”
Approximately 200 people attended the session, which included techniques for working with small groups and with individual students during office hours. The workshop also covered material beyond instructional methods, including boundaries between students and instructors, classroom management, academic integrity issues, contested grades and issues pertaining to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the federal law that protects the privacy of student education records, and Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.
Anjli Kumar, a chemistry graduate student and TA, said the workshop was very beneficial.
“I am personally very interested in teaching,” she said. “I taught high school for some time before (graduate school), so I’m very interested in education.”
Kumar said that in her department, the first-year graduate students take a one-credit-hour teaching course, but she found the CTE training helpful because of the expanded topics that were covered.
“I think that it’s beneficial even for those students who have gone through that class in addition to our undergraduate TAs because I think it puts everyone on an even playing field,” she said.
The CTE staff encouraged TAs to take advantage of the office’s campuswide services available to them, including the Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning, teaching workshops designed for graduate students, the CTE reading groups on recent works in the scholarship of teaching and learning and a series of one-hour presentations on “What’s New in Research on Teaching and Learning.” The TA training will be held again in fall 2016.
For more information, visit the CTE website at http://cte.rice.edu/.