Center for Teaching and Learning

Workshop descriptions

This page provides brief descriptions of workshops offered at the 2017 TA Conference.

Note: Most workshops are offered at least twice during the Conference. So, if you would like to attend two workshops that meet at the same time, you should be able to find the same workshop offered at another time.

Types of TA assignments

Teaching in Lab Settings: First Day and Beyond

This workshop offers ways to help students learn in science and engineering lab settings. We will identify goals of lab instruction, ways to plan and facilitate effective lab sessions, and strategies for a successful first day of class.

Teaching Math, Science and Engineering Quiz Sections: First Day and Beyond

During “quiz” sections, TAs are typically responsible for helping students understand and apply concepts learned in large lecture classes. This workshop will include: setting frameworks and expectations for the section on the first day of class, an overview of TA roles in quantitative problem-solving quiz sections, aligning section content with lecture and strategies for fostering active student learning.

Teaching Modern Languages: First Day and Beyond

In this session, we will discuss feedback from UW students on the teaching methods they find helpful for learning languages. Our discussion will include different approaches to common language learning issues, as well as ways to help resolve possible differences between student perceptions of what they need and instructors’ understanding of effective language learning approaches.

Teaching One-to-One in Office Hours and Study Centers

Teaching students in one-to-one situations offers excellent opportunities for student learning. In this workshop we will examine ways to: encourage student use of office hours and study centers; use one-to-one teaching opportunities to promote student ability to work independently; and anticipate and prepare for a variety of questions, issues and challenges which may arise in office hour and study center situations.

Teaching Social Science and Humanities Quiz Sections: First Day and Beyond

During “quiz” sections, TAs are typically responsible for helping students understand and apply concepts learned in large lecture classes. This workshop will include: setting frameworks and expectations for students for the section on the first day of class; an overview of TA roles in discussion-based quiz sections; aligning section content with lecture; and strategies for fostering stimulating student discussions.

Teaching Your Own Class: First Day and Beyond

This workshop is designed to help TAs who are assuming primary responsibility for a class as part of their transition into leadership roles. We will touch on the many practical issues TAs face when they run their own class: conveying expectations and establishing authority/rapport on the first day, reserving equipment, making arrangements for students with disabilities, dealing with difficult classroom situations, grading and where to go for information on related University policies. Although we will not address course design in detail in this workshop, we will provide a list of resources to help you through this process. Note: You need not be designing a class from scratch to find this workshop helpful.

Effective teaching

Activities to Engage Your Students in Learning

This workshop will emphasize approaches for designing, leading, and assessing activities that help engage students in the learning process. We’ll discuss a range of activities — such as ungraded quizzes, “minute papers,” and group work. The workshop will focus on activities that can be used in a variety of instructional settings. Note: Using whole-class discussions to engage students will be discussed in the “Planning and Facilitating Discussions” workshop.

Dealing With Difficult Classroom Situations

This session addresses some challenging situations that TAs might face in the classroom. You will learn about strategies to prevent and/or respond to issues such as disruptive student behavior, cheating and plagiarism, or student challenges to grades.

Including All Students: Teaching in the Diverse Classroom

The research on teaching and learning tells us that inclusive teaching contributes to greater student engagement and more effective learning overall. Inclusive teaching in higher education refers to the ways in which all aspects of teaching and learning are designed and implemented to engage students in learning that is meaningful, relevant and accessible to all regardless of social differences such as race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, class, sexuality, disability/ability, religion, nationality, age and military status (Hockings, 2010). Participants in this workshop will learn about inclusive teaching, including specific strategies to effectively engage all students.

How Students Learn: Applying the Principles of Learning to Teaching

The first step in designing teaching strategies that make coursework doable, meaningful, and enjoyable for students is to understand what helps them learn. In this workshop, we will discuss teaching strategies that are grounded in research on how students learn. Relevant for teaching in all settings.

Planning and Facilitating Discussions

Classroom discussions can be the most exciting — and challenging — part of teaching a class. In this workshop we will be addressing strategies for planning different types of discussions and for developing effective questions and follow-ups that provoke students’ interest. Note: Small group work is covered in “Activities to Engage Your Students in Learning” and problem-solving sessions are addressed in “Teaching Math, Science and Engineering Quiz Sections”

Presenting Information Effectively In the Classroom

In this workshop, we will examine aspects of effective presentations such as: organization, examples, visuals, pacing and delivery. We will discuss ways to overcome the fear of public speaking and to assess the effectiveness of presentations. Although our primary focus will be on presenting information in the classroom, these skills can also be useful in other presentation formats.

Assessing student work

Assessing Student Work in the Fine Arts

This workshop will explore ways of assessing student work in disciplines like art, music, drama, dance, creative writing, etc. We will examine strategies for clearly communicating to students 1) how they are being evaluated before they complete assignments, and 2) why their work does or does not meet instructor expectations. We will discuss how to develop a list of expectations and evaluative criteria, assign grading value to those items, and build a grading matrix based on that information.

Grading Short-Answer Questions on Homework, Exams or Lab Reports

This workshop presents important considerations for assessing short answers and short essays (a couple of paragraphs or less), including: grading consistently, communicating your grading criteria to students, giving constructive feedback and managing your time when grading large amounts of student work. Because grading practices vary widely, we will also discuss strategies for learning more about grading in your specific TA assignment. Note: Grading essays or other extended writing assignments is addressed in “Responding to Longer Student Essays and Assigning Grades.”

Responding to Longer Student Essays and Assigning Grades

TA responsibilities in many departments involve responding to lengthy written work by students. In this workshop, you will learn strategies for responding to essays and other extended writing assignments in ways that are helpful to students and time-efficient for instructors. We’ll talk about how to tailor feedback to an assignment, tips on preventing plagiarism and on-campus resources to help students hone their writing skills. Note: Grading short-answer questions and shorter essays is addressed in “Grading Short-Answer Questions on Homework, Exams or Lab Reports.”

UW-IT Learning Technologies workshops

UW-IT Learning Technologies will offer two workshops during each session at the Conference.  Workshops will focus on Canvas (UW’s learning management system) and on other UW support learning technologies.  Workshop titles and descriptions will be here as soon as they are available.


International TA Program workshops

These sessions, which will take place on the afternoon of Monday, September 18, are required for all first-year TAs who are not native speakers of English. For more information, see Information for TAs who are Not Native Speakers of English.

For additional information and resources for international TAs, see the International TA Program webpages.

Getting to Know UW Students: Overview for International TAs

This workshop will have two parts: we will discuss the make-up of the student body at the UW and implications for teaching.  We will also provide an overview of the ITA Program and ways the Program can help support you as a TA.

Panel Discussion With Experienced International TAs

In this question and answer session you will have the opportunity to hear from international TAs about their experiences learning to be effective teachers at the UW.