Tutorial Training for TAs
Teaching Assistants (TAs) who have been assigned to lead a tutorial or lab/practical must receive training that aligns with the instructional focus of the tutorial or lab. Depending on the category, students are expected in tutorials to discuss, practice, use, apply and review the learning that happens in the main lecture, and TAs are to facilitate this active learning in the tutorial.
The University of Toronto has designated 4 categories of tutorials:
These activities are not mutually-exclusive and we acknowledge that any one tutorial may involve a range of them based on the established learning objectives. The categories are intended to denote the one primary activity of a given tutorial session.
Discussion Based Sessions
These sessions provide opportunities for additional, or more in-depth, discussion of course content and may involve small-group activities. TAs would lead these sessions and facilitate discussion and learning activities.
Activities in these sessions might include opportunities to practice various skills such as language acquisition, use of computer programs, problem sets, etc. TAs would help to facilitate the activities during these sessions and would provide formative feedback to students on progress.
Laboratories are typically identified as “Practicals” in ROSI (not as Tutorials), and they provide opportunities to run experiments or tests in a lab setting. Problem-solving/ Practice sets are common to engineering, math, and science tutorials and they provide opportunities for students and TAs to practice and review.
These sessions allow students to ask questions about course content and assignments. They are typically offered several times during the year prior to major course deadlines and are normally optional. TAs would respond to student questions, clarify course content, and provide information on course assignments in these sessions. As relevant, these sessions also provide opportunities for review of key course content in preparation for exams, tests, or quizzes. Students may also be provided with information about the format of tests/exams/quizzes and the expectations with regard to performance. TAs would lead the review and respond to student questions in these sessions. This type of tutorial might also include film screenings where films discussed in a course may be screened in a separate session. In these sessions, TAs may be assigned to respond to questions from students.
First-contract TAs, as well as returning TAs, can also request training in how to scale their learning activities appropriately to suit the number of students in a tutorial if they have been assigned to a tutorial with an enrolment that exceeds the training “thresholds” referenced in the report of the Report of the Joint Working Group on Undergraduate Tutorials (see p. 32). Please note that the TATP will be including information on facilitating learning with different numbers of students in training sessions for all 4 tutorial categories. The TATP will also be offering “Adapting Teaching Techniques” (ATT) workshops that will address how to scale your learning activities appropriately. Departments are responsible for determining whether or not a TA requires additional specific training in adapting teaching techniques to different sizes of tutorials.
In the first year of implementation, instructors are encouraged to speak with the appropriate designate in their department or unit to identify the proper process for categorizing their tutorials. In consultation with this designate, instructors will indicate the tutorial category for which a TA requires training in relation to their course.