Biology TA Training Program (BioTAP)

Welcome to UBC

This site has been designed to familiarize you with being a Teaching Assistant in the Biology Program at UBC. Many of you have come from different countries, cultures or campuses and most of you are taking the big step from being the student to being the TA. We want you to be aware of some of the conditions of your employment as a TA (a TAship is a job) at UBC and we also want to acquaint you with some of the situations you may encounter. We cannot possibly give you solutions to all the potential problems which may arise, but we hope to point you to resources within UBC that are there to support you.

The Biology Program relies heavily on TAs to teach our undergraduate classes and we are fortunate to have had many outstanding TAs in our program. We expect this tradition to continue and hope that this site is a useful reference in your successful teaching career at UBC.

Head’s welcome note

What is BioTAP?

BioTAP is a TA training program for graduate students teaching or planning to teach in the Biology program at UBC. BioTAP consists of seven workshops, held throughout the year (see details below), that will introduce practical teaching skills and strategies on how to be an effective teaching assistant.

All TAs that are new to the UBC Biology Program are strongly encouraged to attend BioTAP’s TA Orientation hosted each year in the fall. Subsequent workshops provide TAs with an opportunity to further develop their teaching skills. TAs that participate in five of the seven sessions will complete the BioTAP Program and receive a BioTAP Recognition of Participation that can be added to their CV.

Benefits of BioTAP

Many graduate students considering teaching as part of a post-graduation career path will require practical experience and evidence of teacher training that can be included in their CVs. Through the BioTAP program you will develop a community of graduate students who are thoughtful, supportive and have a commitment to teaching.

Program sessions

Join the BioTAP mailing list to be notified of upcoming sessions by sending an email to listserv@lists.ubc.ca with the words subscribe biotap-TAs@lists.ubc.ca in the BODY of the email. Do not include an email signature or any other text in the body of the email or the request will not go through.

Below are the seven professional development sessions held throughout the year. Click the title of each session for more information.

TA Orientation (TAO)
Tuesday, August 31st, 2021, 10 am-3 pm

This orientation introduces the new graduate student TAs to the culture of teaching Biology at UBC, their role as a TA, and the expectations we have of them. They will consider some of the situations that confront a TA before they face their students and be made aware of resources available on campus. We expect that at the end of the TA orientation, graduate students will be familiar with UBC policies on academic integrity, have a sense of the professionalism required of TAs and will be familiar with UBC grading policies and the kind of feedback – written and verbal – that is appropriate and expected in our program.

This hybrid workshop offers in-person or virtual attendance.  Indicate how you would like to attend when you register.

Click to view our TAO 2021 COVID Safety Plan.

To register, visit: https://ubc.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8ozNGUNXqmYshMi

Facilitation Strategies for Effective Learning
Tuesday, September 28th, 2021, 1-2:45 pm

In this workshop, TAs will learn classroom management strategies. In-class and virtual classroom management strategies will be discussed. TAs will consider how they can respond to challenges they may be faced with by working through scenarios.

This workshop will be held online.

To register, visit: https://ubc.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3dsbEhv1VPKoZQa

Marking: Survival Skills
Wednesday, October 13th, 2021, 1-2:45 pm

This session will explore the various ways in which undergraduate students are typically evaluated: written assignments, reports, exams, as well as oral reports and posters. TAs will have the opportunity to practice the use of marking keys and rubrics. In discussion with senior TAs and instructors the TAs will identify strategies for effective grading and means of providing undergraduate students with constructive feedback.

This workshop will be held online.

To register, visit: https://ubc.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bJBhRirZMnXVZaK

Challenges in Teaching: Sharing Coping Strategies
Wednesday, December 8, 1-2:45 pm

At this session the TAs will review their teaching experience from the fall term, discuss challenges they faced, and share coping strategies. Discussion topics will include time management in graduate student life, student engagement, marking/evaluating students, inclusivity in the classroom, classroom management, and TA-student/TA-faculty relations.

This workshop will be held in person.

Effective Use of Questions in Teaching
Date TBA

Using questions to help guide students to the right answer can be an incredibly effective teaching technique. In this workshop, instructors will demonstrate how they use questions to support student learning and then TAs will be given the opportunity to practice this skill by creating questions to ask a potential student in a given scenario.

Promoting Inclusivity in the Classroom
Date TBA

During this session the graduate student TAs will discuss ways to ensure the atmosphere in the classroom is welcoming and respectful for all students. As a teacher it is important to identify any biases we may harbour and also become sensitive to ways that students perceive our behaviours. Using clear communication and inclusive teaching strategies can contribute to positive learning environments.

Creating Engaging Lessons
Date TBA

During the workshop, TAs will design and present a five-minute lesson to their peers on a topic of their choice and receive constructive feedback about their teaching.

Best Practices in Teaching
Date TBA

This session will focus on presentation of documented ‘Best Practices’ in teaching and will include evidence in support of ‘Best Practices’. TAs will share teaching strategies and practices they found effective, and consider new strategies that they can adopt in their next teaching assignment.

 

Supported by the UBC Provosts, Botany, Zoology and Biology.