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TA Training & Development

The ECE TA Training and Development Program is an initiative that reflects the longstanding tradition of strong peer mentoring in the department. The program is led by a select cohort of TATD Fellows who lead teaching workshops and serve as a mentoring resource for ECE Teaching Assistants.

Requirements for ECE TAs:


ECE TAs are encouraged to contact their TATD Fellow Mentor throughout the semester with any questions or TA concerns. TAs are required to meet with mentors at a mid-semester check-in.

Upcoming Fall 2016 Workshops


September 22: "Community Event #1"
3:30pm; AV Williams 2460
Facilitated by Justin Stine

September 28 "Delivering an Effective Lecture"
12:00pm; AV Williams 2460
Facilitated by Abdulrahman Baknina

Recitation plays an important role in the education process, specially for undergraduate courses.
The goal of a recitation includes reviewing the lectures, solving problems and reviewing the material before exams. Different students have different expectations for the recitation session. Also, each student has his/her own speed/method of perceiving the presented material. As a result, delivering an effective one hour recitation can be quite challenging. In this workshop, we will discuss several approaches to deliver an effective recitation.

Week of October 3-7: "Independent and Cooperative Learning"
Facilitated by Qiang Zhu

Week of October 10-14: Break - no workshop

Week of October 17-21: "How to Get Students to Talk in Class"
Facilitated by Ahmed Arafa

Week of October 24-28: "Fine Tuning to Become a Better TA"
Facilitated by Manasij Venkatesh

Week of October 31-November 4: "Learning & Teaching: Providing an Effective Lecture"
Facilitated by Dan Gerzhoy and Peiwen He

Week of November 7-11: "Effective Time Management as a TA"
Facilitated by Vidya Raju and Zeyu Zhang

November 18: "Community Event #2"
1pm; AV Williams 2460
Facilitated by Zhung-Han Wu

Past Workshops


Fall 2016

September 8: "Expect the Unexpected: Adjusting Myself as a First-Time TA"
Facilitated by Wei Bei

Being a teaching assistant (TA) is very exciting and important for TAs, especially the first-time TAs. However, most of these new TAs don't have teaching experience. Many new TAs are new graduate students as well. They have to balance their coursework, teaching and research. This is even more challenging for foreign TAs, especially for whom English is not their mother tongue. In this workshop, we would like to give some suggestions to the new TAs helping them to adjust to this new environment, and be more comfortable as a TA.

September 14: "Challenges in Lab / Effectively Managing a Lab Session"
Facilitated by Yumeng Cui and Candace Walden

In this workshop we will mainly focus on developing effective in-lab management skills. Is making a lecture in the lab helpful? How to present your idea to the students? Shall we spend the entire 3-hour session working with students? Through group discussions and ideas from the speakers, we will be challenged by real scenarios that are commonly seen in a lab session. Different ways to help with debugging will be reviewed. Inputs from the audience are welcomed.

Spring 2016

April 19: "How to Make the Most of Your Teaching Experience"
Facilitated by Ahmed ElShaarany

Sometimes we can get caught it in teaching that we forget how teaching can affect our daily lives. In this workshop, we will try to focus on how we can use our teaching experience in different aspects of life. It will also be a good opportunity for the participants to share stories and experiences where they applied something they learned from teaching.

April 13: "To Solve or Not to Solve!"
Facilitated by Sina Miran

​ If you're in charge of holding recitations as a TA, and you don't have a fixed set of problems to follow, probably your biggest weekly challenge would be to prepare a set of problems together with their solutions for your recitation. However, you only have an hour of time in recitation and lots of sources for finding problems! So which ones to choose then!? The same issue applies to office hours as you might have to solve problems for students reaching out to you there! However, there are some differences between office hours and recitations. In this workshop, I will present some guidelines I followed while TAing this past year for choosing problems for recitations, presenting their solutions in recitations, and addressing students' questions in office hours. Hopefully, these will be useful to you as well.​

April 7: "Delivering an Effective Lecture in Diverse Learning Environments / Bridging the Cultural Gap Between TA and Students"
Facilitated by Abhijit Valluri and Saurabh Sahu

TAs are a key part of the education system in the US. International TAs may be unaccustomed to how classes in US are conducted and how students behave with them. Cultural variations influence the student behavior both inside and outside the classroom, especially when you are interacting during office hours and lab sessions. To be an effective TA, one needs to understand what motivates students in the class/lab, which is very challenging. How can we ensure that students pay the same amount of attention in recitations/lab sessions as they do at your office hours? In this workshop, we will highlight the challenges that may arise due to various cultures and what strategies a TA can follow to deliver an effective lecture and make the classroom a better learning environment. We will discuss different learning styles in general, discuss the differences in the lab/recitation/office hour settings and explore ways to leverage these differences to teach effectively.

April 1: "Mediating Between Students and Instructors"
Facilitated by Dan Goldman

In this workshop we will explore the role of a TA as a mediator between the students and the instructor(s) of a course. What role does a TA have in the eyes of the students? What about in the eyes of the instructor? How does a TA address conflicts, issues, and relay information between these two distinct groups in a course? These are a few of the many questions we will attempt to address in this workshop.

March 22: "Encouraging Critical Thinking at Classroom and in Problem Sessions"
Facilitated by Nil Gurel

​ Critical thinking is a core ability to come to a judgment in all disciplines. It is an active, self-assessing and self-correcting mechanism that helps the student prevent from making impulsive and spontaneous judgments. It is one of the main goals for a lecturer to encourage and improve the student's critical thinking abilities on the subject conveyed. This workshop will mention the ways and approaches a teaching assistant can use to encourage critical thinking at classroom and in problem sessions.

March 11: "Effective Grading"
Facilitated by Abdulrahman Baknina and Yuntao Liu

​ Grading is an essential part of being a TA. We have a lot of things to grade: homework, quizzes, lab reports, exams, etc. In this workshop, we will discuss what is the best way to grade them, and how to grade effectively and efficiently—to encourage students to learn but not to cost ourselves too much time.

February 24: "Transition: TAing Another Type of Course (Lab/Lecture)"
Facilitated by Sheng Cheng

Many TAs may have done a good job for the past semester while being assigned a different type of course (Lab/Lecture) this semester. This could be a challenge for TAs as these two types require different workload and preparation. During the workshop, we will compare the difference between TAing these two types of courses. We will also discuss how we can utilize what we know previously about TAing a course to help ourselves in TAing another type of course.

February 19: "Preparing for and Conducting Laboratory Sessions"
Facilitated by Bathiya Senevirathna

Running a laboratory session is rather different from presenting lectures or discussions. Lab sessions are generally predefined by instructors but TAs are given a lot of responsibility in ensuring that students get the most out of the labs. In this workshop we will discuss how TAs can prepare for lab sessions, how to conduct the labs, and how to help students get the most out of their time. We will also take a look at common issues we may run into during lab sessions, and find ways to tackle them.

February 12: "Making Office Hours Not Ours"
Facilitated by Alborz Alavian

Office hours could be a useful resource for students to elaborate more on the topics that are briefly addressed during lecture time but are also important during course evaluation procedures. This time can also be a useful resource for TAs to have a better perspective of what materials could need more attention and how adjusted are homework levels to the presented knowledge. However, there is an unwritten, but mutually known fact that the presence and productivity expectation are low. In this workshop, we aim to take a second look on some ways to increase presence and productivity, and provide some practical strategies on how to manage office hours in a way that could be beneficial for many of the students.

February 4: "What does the TA responsibility mean to you? A key player in the teaching cycle long ignored"
Facilitated by Zhung-Han Wu

We talked a lot about how to do an excellent TA work focusing on the students’ needs in several workshops. However, we seldom mention what an excellent TA work could mean to TA ourselves. What can you gain from the TA responsibility other than the paycheck? In this workshop, we will discuss about the meaning of TA responsibility to TA themselves from different aspects.

Fall 2015

Monday, November 16: "Presentation / Instruction Techniques"
Facilitated by Nil Gurl

Communicating clearly and effectively is a must-have skill for every field, crucial to especially teaching. Preparing a presentation can be a daunting prospect, since delivering a captivating presentation to get your message across requires a lot of preparation and work. Many people in engineering fields feel terrified when they are asked to do an oral presentation, but these initial fears can be reduced by good preparation and practice. This workshop aims to help about mastering speaking stress, organizing the presentation, platform skills, using audiovisual aids and audience psychology.

Friday, November 13: "Teaching Beyond the Lab Itself"
Facilitated by Yuntao Liu

Lab courses are designed not only to train the students’ practical skills in doing experiments, but also to enhance their theoretical knowledge on which the experiments are based. However, in reality, many students do nothing more than follow the step-by-step instructions of the lab manual. As instructors seldom go to the lab, the lab TAs are the only people who can build a bridge across the gap of theory and practice for the students. In this workshop, we will discuss how to observe the deficiencies of the student's knowledge and help them understand the knowledge and lab comprehensively in an efficient way.

Tuesday, November 3: "Student - Faculty - TA Relationships"
Facilitated by Ahmed ElShaarany

A TA holds an intermediate status between faculty and students. In other words, the TA is the middle man that facilitates the flow of information from faculty to students, and at the same time, ensure the students’ feedback is adequately delivered to the faculty. Dealing with these tasks can sometimes be tricky and it requires careful handling. In this workshop, we will talk about the different issues that face the TA as a middle man and discuss different situations TAs faced.

Wednesday, October 28: "Again?! - Teaching the Same Class More Than Once"
Facilitated by Daniel Goldman

Whether you are filling out your TA preferences for next semester or currently teaching a course you have taught before, it is common for TA's to wind up teaching the same class more than once.  What would you do in a situation where you are teaching a course for the second or third time?  What strategies might be helpful in addressing challenges or potential benefits you might face as a repeating TA for a class?  This workshop will focus on personal experiences, situations that might arise, and strategies to succeed as a TA who is teaching a class more than once, as well as aiding with choosing courses to teach for next semester.

Thursday, October 22: "Adapting Your Teaching to the Diverse Learning Styles of Students"
Facilitated by Abhijit Valluri

Understanding what motivates students in your class is very challenging, yet this is important to be an effective TA and to guide your students successfully. We often observe that students crowd during office hours before midterms or homework deadlines. How can you make them pay the same amount of attention in all your recitations or labs? In this workshop, we will talk about the different learning styles of students in general, and discuss the pros and cons of the lab, recitation and office hour environments. We will explore some teaching techniques that can help you teach more effectively in these different environments.

Thursday, October 15: "Feedback – How to Solicit, Interpret and React to It"
Facilitated by Zhung-Han Wu

Feedback is an essential part in a successful teaching and learning experience. The constant receiving and reacting to feedback foster the learning cycle. In this workshop, we will discuss ways to solicit different kinds of feedback, to interpret the feedback, and to react to feedback.

Wednesday, September 30: "Early Addressing of Exam Concerns"
Facilitated by Alborz Alavian

In this workshop we aim to inspect the ways by which TAs could address student concerns regarding the upcoming exams from early in the semester. Students are known to form their perspective about the upcoming exams from beginning of the semester, and even before that by choosing which courses to attend to. However, usually there would be no discussion of the exams until some few sessions before it. We will try to gain a better understanding of this concern from different perspectives, and try to probe some strategies that could be used to better address these concern from student perspectives. We aim to take advantage of our collective experience in having such courses to build strategies that could be used during the course by a teacher assistant.

Friday, September 25: "How to Encourage Student Participation and Break the Awkward Silence in the Classroom"
Facilitated by Bathiya Senevirathna and Sina Miran

You ask a question during class, a fairly straightforward review question, but none of your students respond. Everyone just keeps their head down and desperately tries to avoid eye contact with you. This is a situation almost all TAs have faced and can be quite disheartening. In this workshop we aim to find ways to break the silence in the classroom, to know how to ask the right questions, and to help find ways to create an active environment that will increase student-TA interaction. This is important not only because it is part of students’ learning process, but is also very useful as a teaching tool for you as a TA.

Friday, September 18: "Delivering an Effective Lecture / Bridging the Culture Gap Between TA and Students"
Facilitated by Abdulrahman Baknin and Saurabh Sahu

Teaching assistants (TAs) are a key part of the education system. Usually, international TAs may might feel awkward at first from the way classrooms in the US are conducted and how students respond/behave with them. This may require one to understand specific cultural variations which may influence the students perception/behavior inside and outside the classroom, especially when you are interacting during office hours and lab sessions. In this workshop, we will highlight the challenges that may arise due to various cultures and what strategies a TA can follow to deliver an effective lecture and make the classroom a better learning environment.

Wednesday, September 9: "Guidance for Students and TA when TAing a Lab Course"
Facilitated by Sheng Cheng

Experiments play an important role in applying theory to practice. Thus we have our students conduct experiments in a lab, in order to help them learn practical skills while reviewing the theories learned previously. However, a 3-hour lab session can be full of mess if our TA is not well prepared, since problems and bugs will definitely come to students in an experiment. During the workshop, we will discuss the basic requirements for a lab TA to meet the goal of teaching in a lab. Besides, some useful suggestions will be given to help lab TA conduct the lab session more effectively.

Spring 2015

Thursday, April 23: "TA-ing a Course for the 2nd or 3rd Time"
Facilitated by Bhaskar Ramasubramanian

In this department, it is not uncommon for a TA to be assigned to a particular course more than once. This workshop will try to address potential advantages and disadvantages of being in such a situation. Participating TAs will be asked to share their views on the same with the aim of making the session as interactive as possible. The workshop will also be particularly relevant to TAs who will be filling in their choices of courses for the next semester.

Wednesday, April 15: "Teaching Students According to their Individuality"
Facilitated by Ren Mao

Different students have different backgrounds, objectives and aptitudes for studying the course material. A good way for TA to guide students learn well is teaching students in accordance with their individuality, especially when you are answering individual’s questions in office hour or lab session. In this workshop, we will discuss how to observe and analyze the characteristics of students’ learning, how to match students’ learning style, and how to guide students to find their learning strategies.

Thursday, April 9: "The Importance of Student Participation in the Classroom"
Facilitated by Alborz Alavian

All of us remember moments when our contributions in class helped shaped some part of the lecture. Student involvement is an important part of learning - indeed, it can help them understand and retain high-level concepts. In this workshop, we will offer different methods – direct and indirect – that can be used to encourage participation and keep students involved in the course material. We will discuss how and when participation can make this goal achievable.

Thursday, April 2: "To be in the Students’ Shoes – Identify and Mitigate the Gap between TA and Students"
Facilitated by Zhung-Han Wu

Recitation sessions play an important role in a successful teaching and learning experience. Experienced TAs go through sample problems and review essential concepts so that students can get a clearer picture of the topic. However, the knowledge gap between the experienced TA and students is sometimes overlooked during the recitation session. As a result, a TA might sometimes skip some topics that the students are not adept at and slow down the learning process. In this workshop, we will discuss ways to identify the gap between the TA and the students and provide ways to mitigate the gap.

Friday, March 27: "Preparing for and Conducting Laboratory Sections"
Facilitated by Po-Chun Huang and Bathiya Senevirathna

Students are excited about applying theory into practice in the lab and they may run into different levels of difficulties in their experiments. One of the most important missions of a lab class TA is to customize the learning experience of each student.  However, teaching a lab course has particular challenges different from those in a standard discussion class. In this workshop, we will discuss strategies for preparing an effective learning environment to help students get the most out of laboratory classes.

Tuesday, March 10: "Bridging the Cultural Gap Between TAs and Students"
Facilitated by Sohil Shah and Saurabh Sahu

Teaching assistants are a key part of the education system. Many times students feel more comfortable interacting with their TA’s rather than the professor. As most TAs are international students, they might feel awkward at first the way American classrooms are conducted and how students respond/behave with them. This may require one to understand specific cultural variations which may influence the students perception/behavior inside and outside the classroom, especially when you are interacting during office hours and lab sessions. In this workshop, we will highlight the difference in educational norms across various cultures and what strategies we as a TA can follow so that the classroom becomes a better learning environment.

Tuesday, February 24: "Time Management: Finding Time When There Isn't Enough"
Facilitated by Jeff Casarona

Many new graduate students are shocked into increased levels of work and commitments required from the people around them. Juggling class, work, research, TA responsibilities, and general everyday life may be daunting to those who are not able to manage the most valuable commodity any one person can have: time. This talk will address tips, tricks, and techniques to identify, quantify, and address your ability to find time when you think there just isn't enough, and how to spend time in efficient and effective ways.

Wednesday, February 18: "The TA-Instructor Relationship"
Facilitated by Long Nguyen

In order to carry out their duty efficiently, teaching assistants have to overcome various challenges. Although these often come from the course material or the students, it is not rare to see TAs being stressed out from the dynamic between them and the instructors. This workshop attempts to explore the TA-instructor relationship by facilitating a discussion ground, with the aim of solving existing and potential problems between the parties.

Thursday, February 12: "Using Classroom Tools for Effective Discussion Sessions"
Facilitated by Devanarayanan Ettisserry and Abhijit Valluri

Tailoring your discussions in view of the diversity in learning styles and personalities of students will help you in reaching out to them more effectively. One way of doing this is to use technology in the classroom to make classes more fun and engaging. Nowadays, there are a variety of resources on the web that we can tap into to improve the classroom experience. For instance, there is a growing number of YouTube channels and videos tailored to teach students and interested individuals important concepts in a visually engaging way, using graphics and illustrations, as well as narration. This can help students who learn by seeing or listening. Other resources such as Coursera offer lectures and quizzes on various topics. One can also tap into online tutorials to setup real-life experiments, demonstrations or simulations on the computer to engage the students. We shall discuss effective utilization of technology to improve the classroom learning experience.

Fall 2014

Friday, November 21: "Assumptions that Affect Teaching in the American Classroom"
Facilitated by Saurabh Sahu

Teaching assistants are a key part of the education system. Many times students feel more comfortable interacting with their TA’s rather than the professor. As most TAs are international students, they might feel awkward at first the way American classrooms are conducted and how students respond/behave with them. So, it’s important for an international TA to understand the American classroom culture and what to expect from the students.

As part of the workshop, I will talk about the different academic background that the students might have due to the education system here, how our American colleagues expect students to learn, the relationship between faculty, teaching assistants and students and what strategies we as a TA can follow so that the classroom becomes a better learning environment.

Monday, November 10: "The Importance of Student Participation in the Classroom"
Facilitated by Alborz Alavian

All of us remember moments when our contributions in class helped shaped some part of the lecture. Student involvement is an important part of learning - indeed, it can help them understand and retain high-level concepts. In this workshop, we will offer different methods – direct and indirect – that can be used to encourage participation and keep students involved in the course material. We will discuss how and when participation can make this goal achievable.

Thursday, November 6: "Learning is a 2-way Street"
Facilitated by Abhijit Valluri

Many might wonder as to the benefits of being a TA, academically and professionally. Sure, being a Teaching Assistant pays for the bills and keeps the light on, but it isn’t our primary job. And while we put in a significant effort into it, there doesn’t seem to be an immediate or tangible benefit that can make us better researchers. Or so it seems. Join me to discover the hidden benefits of being a TA, how it can help you both academically and professionally by teaching you some valuable life skills. Together, we shall learn that learning is a 2-way street – you can take away from this experience just as much as you impart to your students.

Thursday, October 30: "Receiving Feedback and Constructive Criticism"
Facilitated by Bhaskar Ramasubramanian

Soliciting feedback from one’s class is one of the more important exercises that will help understand and improve one’s performance as a TA. While asking the class for feedback, it is important to understand how to carry out such an exercise and interpret comments given by the class. It is also equally important to realize what IS NOT feedback. This workshop will try to provide answers to these questions, and also provide pointers on ways to respond to feedback. Participating TAs will be asked for their opinions on how they think such an exercise could be carried out, and the facilitator will put forth his ideas, and a discussion will follow to settle on an ‘ideal’ way to carry out such an exercise

Wednesday, October 22: "Teaching Students According to Their Individuality"
Facilitated by Ren Mao and Sohil Shah

Student from different countries and culture have different backgrounds, objectives and aptitudes for studying the course material. Keeping this diversity in mind, language barrier as well as assimilative power of every individual, a best possible way for TAs to guide students to learn well would be to teach them in accordance with their individuality. This may require one to understand specific cultural variations which may influence the students perception/behavior inside and outside the classroom, especially when you are interacting during office hours and lab sessions. In this workshop, we will highlight the difference in educational norms across various cultures, discuss how one can learn to match student’s learning style and guide their students to achieve their academic goals.

Thursday, October 9: "Teaching a Subject Outside Your Expertise"
Facilitated by Long Nguyen

Sometimes graduate students find themselves tasked with providing assistance in a course which they are not familiar with. Dealing with new material effectively with pressure from both instructor and students can be stressful. This workshop serves to facilitate a discussion through which TAs will be prepared to face this situation or similar challenges.

Friday, October 3: "Encourage Creative Thinking in Discussions"
Faciliated by Devanarayanan Ettisserry

A good teaching assistant needs to be aware of various thought processes exhibited by students in problem solving. It is important to stimulate divergent thinking in students and enable them to think out of the box. Another related aspect is the accurate assessment of creativity. In this workshop, we will focus on ways to encourage divergent thinking during discussions and on careful grading of creative solutions.

Wednesday, September 24: "Preparing for and Conducting Laboratory Sessions"
Facilitated by Po-Chun Huang & Bathiya Senevirathna

Students are excited about applying theory into practice in the lab and they may run into different levels of difficulties in their experiments. One of the most important missions of a lab class TA is to customize the learning experience of each student.  However, teaching a lab course has particular challenges different from those in a standard discussion class. In this workshop, we will discuss strategies for preparing an effective learning environment to help students get the most out of laboratory classes.

Wednesday, September 17: "Giving Recitation - Effectively and Adaptively"
Facilitated by Zhung-Han Wu and Shuoxin Lin

Recitation plays an important role in the overall cycle of teaching. The goal for recitation includes reviewing the ideas in the lecture, getting the hands-on feel of solving problems and clearing up students' questions. Different students with different learning styles pose another challenge for meeting the recitation goals. As a result, organizing the one hour recitation effectively and adaptively to meet all the different recitation goals is essential to enhancing the overall learning experience. In this workshop, we will discuss different ways to organize the recitation and how to communicate effectively and adaptively using several strategies with the students.

Thursday, September 11: "Class Act: Building Character in the Classroom"
Facilitated by Jeff Casarona

Classrooms can often feel dull or boring, and can easily become a one-way street of information from the lecturer to the student. This presentation will explore the fundamentals of teaching to your strengths, making the classroom an exciting and unique learning environment for you and your students. We will cover core concepts to get your students paying attention, asking questions, and participating.