TA Day: Graduate Student Conference on Teaching

Wednesday September 7, 2016
Room 2050, Social Science Centre (SSC)
9:00 AM - 4:30 PM

This one-day conference introduces graduate students to teaching at Western University and helps them prepare for their roles as teaching assistants. Join TSC staff and award-winning professors to learn about facilitating discussions in tutorials, helping undergraduate students in laboratory settings, dealing with difficult students, and much more!

Are you an International Graduate Student at Western? For more information on International Teaching Assistant Day, explore our ITA Day Page.

Fall 2016 Program (Registration will open in Spring). 

Opening Remarks

9:00 – 9:15 a.m.

SSC 2050

Keynote Presentation

9:15 – 10:00 a.m.

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The Art of Keeping A Large Group of Students Motivated

Mike Atkinson

Michael Atkinson
Department of Psychology

The students of today are somehow “different” than they were 30 years ago … but how? Do they approach the university with a different set of goals? Do they have different expectations? How do they learn? Much attention has been given to learning styles, learning preferences, multitasking, technology, and so on. But how do we move information from the external world and consolidate it into an event we call learning?  Dr. Atkinson will discuss the new science of learning and consider the implications of cognitive science for today’s—and tomorrow’s—universities.

Dr. Mike Atkinson is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Western University. Mike is an expert on large class instruction and the use of multimedia in the classroom. He is a recipient of the Edward G. Pleva Award for Excellence in Teaching (2006), the University Students' Council Teaching Award of Excellence (1996), the 3M National Teaching Fellowship (1998), and five-time recipient of the Western Psychology Professor of the Year Award. Mike is also a Teaching Fellow in Western’s Teaching Support Centre with a focus on Active Learning, Large Class Teaching, and Assessment. He has delivered over 300 presentations and talks on teaching in higher education and has been featured in Maclean’s magazine, Media television, the Globe & Mail, and the APA Monitor.

Introduction to TA Training Programs at Western

10:00 – 10:15 a.m.

SSC 2050

Nanda Dimitrov, Teaching Support Centre (TSC)

Coffee Break

10:15 – 10:30 a.m.

Concurrent Sessions (Choose One)

10:30 – 11:25 a.m.

Explaining Difficult Concepts in Science


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Time Management Strategies for TAs

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Derek McLachlin, Biochemistry

If the professor didn’t clearly explain a tricky concept in class, students often ask their TAs to help them understand. This session will provide specific advice on how to succeed!

Nanda Dimitrov, TSC

Learn about starting and guiding class discussions effectively.  Practice leading group discussions using quescussion and various brainstorming techniques.

A PDF copy of this presentation is available here.

Tracey Ropp, Learning Skills Services

To be successful in the dual roles of student and TA requires a carefully planned balancing act. Discuss time management strategies that can help you be an effective and efficient student and TA.

Concurrent Sessions (Choose One)

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Critical Incidents in the Life of a TA

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The First Day of Class

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Helping Your Students Write Better

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Karyn Olsen, TSC

In this session, common problems related to student-instructor interactions will be illustrated with a case study: A Semester in the Life of a Western TA.

Ken Meadows, TSC

Walking into the classroom on the first day can be intimidating for both students and TAs. This session explores what you can do to ensure a successful beginning to the school year.

Paul Schmidt, Writing Support Centre

This session will focus on how TAs can help their students learn expectations for academic writing, and help them to become better writers. 

Lunch Break (free boxed lunch available in SSC 2020)

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions (Choose One)

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Making Connections @ Your Library

SSC 2024

Dealing with Difficult Students

SSC 2050

Starting Your Teaching Dossier

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Monica Fazekas, Western Libraries

Join us to find out how the library can work for you and for your students. Learn about resources and services that can simplify your teaching and your research.

Mike Atkinson, Psychology

Many TAs experience occasional situations in which students become “difficult” or disruptive.  In this session you will discuss strategies you can use to deal with student behaviour that interferes with classroom learning.

Aisha Haque, TSC

Documenting your teaching in a teaching dossier will help you when you teach a course for the second time, teach a course on your own, or when you apply for jobs. In this session, you will learn strategies for starting a teaching dossier.

Coffee Break

2:30 – 2:45 p.m.

Effective TAing at Western: Panel of Veteran TAs

2:45 – 3:45 p.m.

SSC 2050

Graduate Student Teaching Award winners will speak about effective ways of fulfilling the TA role and about their experience teaching in a variety of disciplines.  Panelists will answer questions and address concerns you might have about teaching and learning at Western.

The New TA Survival Kit

3:45 – 4:30 p.m.

SSC 2050


Please register in advance: 

If you have any questions, please contact us at tsc@uwo.ca, or 519.661.2111, ext. 80346.