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Training Department TAs

Your Department’s Role 

In March of 2000, the Faculty Senate TA Oversight Committee issued Guidelines for Departmental/Program TA Training. The guidelines ask departments and programs to have in place an orientation, supervision, feedback, and teaching development program for TAs and to designate an Academic Council faculty member to oversee the TA training program.

VPTL’s Role 

VPTL works with faculty and departments to design, implement, assist with, and evaluate programs that prepare new TAs for their teaching roles and support all TAs as they carry out their teaching responsibilities. VPTL offers the following services and resources to assist departments with their TA training efforts: 

Design Principles 

The literature on TA training recommends the following principles of program design: 

  • The training should focus on the specific kind of teaching expected of TAs in the department, while also preparing students more broadly for their future careers. 
  • Experienced TAs should play an active role in designing and running the program. 
  • The program should solicit regular feedback from TAs, especially in its early stages. 
  • TAs enter training programs with different levels of skill and experience. The program should acknowledge these differences and offer something to students at every level. 
  • The department should support its program with a healthy climate of respect for teaching. 

Best Practices 

In 2008, the Teaching Assistant Oversight Committee (TAOC) conducted a study of the departmental TA training programs in place at Stanford and concluded that they were most effective when they included some or all of the following structures: 

  • Orientation/training seminars at the beginning of the year or quarter for new TAs 
  • A pedagogy course or opportunities for ongoing discussion with peers and faculty during the first year of teaching 
  • Opportunities for TAs to be mentored by faculty or peers 
  • Opportunities for practice or simulated teaching 
  • A midterm or formative TA evaluation, as well as an end-of-term or summative TA evaluation process 
  • A customized departmental TA handbook, online or in print 
  • An archive system for TA training materials and courses 
  • Professional development opportunities 
  • Customized presentations by VPTL staff 

What’s Working in TA Training 

The following sections present examples effective TA training practices in action in various departments and programs on campus. We hope these examples will inspire ideas for TA training in your department or program. VPTL offers TA training grants to support departments or individual faculty that wish to develop a new teaching assistant training program or to enhance an existing program:

TA Handbook and Guide Examples 

Pedagogy Course Examples

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Departmental Orientation Examples 

Coming soon! 

Mentoring Program Examples 

Coming soon!