Biology Program 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 professional development 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. A BioTAP Recognition of Participation is awarded to graduate students that have participated in five of the seven sessions.


Benefits of BioTAP

Many graduate students considering teaching as part of a post-graduation career path will require practical experience and evidence of professional development 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

Below are the seven professional development sessions held throughout the year. Click the title of each session for more information and to register for the 2019 sessions. Check back in December to register for the 2020 sessions!

TA Orientation (TAO) - Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 10 am - 4 pm, in PHRM 3208

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. Experienced TAs will facilitate discussions on topics such as time management in graduate student life, marking/evaluating students, inclusivity (diversity in the classroom), classroom management (including time), and TA-student/TA-faculty relations.

To register, visit: https://ubc.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8wXvP6mh0QAdPOl

Facilitation strategies for effective learning - Tuesday, October 1, 2019, 12 pm - 1:50 pm in SWNG 309

The focus of this session is to consider various facilitation strategies for situations the graduate student TAs may have encountered while teaching. Teaching techniques such as effective use of questioning, facilitating small group discussion, active learning methods and essential classroom management skills will be discussed.

To register, visit: https://ubc.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6J1TNnLcI5GG7t3

Marking: Survival skills - Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 12 pm - 1:50 pm in MSL 101

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.

To register, visit: https://ubc.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eEEfG4ef3xamYZf

Challenges and rewards of teaching - Monday, December 2, 2019, 12 pm - 2 pm in AERL 107

At this session the TAs will review their teaching experience from the fall term. The TA mentors will revisit the topics introduced at the TAO (time management in graduate student life, marking/evaluating students, inclusivity (diversity in the classroom), classroom management (including time), TA-student/TA-faculty relations) with the group.

To register, visit: https://ubc.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1TW2IyDTAp6ls1f

Creating engaging lessons - Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 12 pm - 1:50 pm in MSL 101 (please note the room change)

TAs will make observations of an experienced instructor prior to the workshop. At this session, TAs will present a five-minute lesson to their peers on a biological concept and receive constructive feedback about their teaching.

To register, visit: https://ubc.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5BzIrwgW13kcorH

Promoting inclusivity in the classroom - February 20, 2020, 12 pm - 2 pm in AERL 107

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 harbor and also become sensitive to ways that students perceive our behaviours. Using clear communication and inclusive teaching strategies can contribute to positive learning environments.

To register, visit: https://ubc.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5vwnDedo81cxyYJ

Best practices in teaching (online) - April 14, 2020

This session will focus on presentation of documented ‘Best Practices’ 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.