TA Day: Graduate Student Conference on Teaching

Wednesday September 7, 2016
Room 40, Health Sciences Building (HSB)
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

ta day map

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.

Resources from TA Day 2016

Fall 2016 Program

Opening Remarks

Nanda Dimitrov - Acting Director, Teaching Support Centre

Lorraine Davies - Associate Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

9:00 – 9:15 a.m.

HSB 40

Keynote Presentation

9:15 – 10:00 a.m.

HSB 40

The New Science of Learning

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.

HSB 40

Karyn Olsen, 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


HSB 236



HSB 40

Time Management Strategies for TAs

HSB 240

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 help science students succeed.

Nanda Dimitrov, TSC

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

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

HSB 236

The First Day of Class

HSB 40

Helping Your Students Write Better

HSB 240

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 & The New TA Survival Kit

  • Pick up your free boxed lunch in HSB 35
  • Over the lunch break, visit with representatives from the GTA Union, Equity and Human Rights Services, Society of Graduate Students, and the Wellness Education Centre outside of HSB 40. Learn more about the important resources these organizations have to offer and have your questions answered!

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions (Choose One)

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Making Connections @ Your Library

HSB 236

Dealing with Difficult Students

HSB 40

Starting Your Teaching Dossier

HSB 240

Kim McPhee, 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

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

Coffee Break

2:30 – 2:45 p.m.

Thriving as a TA: Panel of Outsanding TAs

2:45 – 3:45 p.m.

HSB 40

Experienced TAs from a variety of disciplines will speak about strategies for fulfilling the TA role effectively. The panelists will share their own experiences and address audience questions and concerns about teaching at Western. 

Panelists: Ryan Clutterbuck (Kinesiology); David Huebert (English); Alicia Lapointe (Education); Jantina Toxopeus (Biology).

Please register in advance: 

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