Teaching Assistant in Residence: A Novel Peer Mentorship Program for Less Experienced Teaching Assistants

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Each semester approximately 80 graduate teaching assistants (TAs) support the delivery of the undergraduate computer science program at The University of Calgary. While these teaching assistants provide an essential service to the undergraduate program, in past years the department has invested little effort in ensuring that teaching assistants have the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to tackle these duties effectively. During the 2012-2013 academic year, a novel TA mentorship program was initiated. An experienced teaching assistant with a demonstrated record of excellence in teaching was hired to serve as the TA in Residence. This graduate student provided training and advice to new teaching assistants, including classroom visits where the TA in Residence observed TAs in action. TAs that participated in the program generally reported that the advice provided by the TA in Residence was helpful, and all of the TAs that responded to the survey question believed that it would be worthwhile to continue the mentorship program in the future. As a result, we continued the TA in Residence program in subsequent years. This poster provides an overview of the TA in Residence program, its benefits, and the challenges that the TAs in residence have faced and overcome. The revisions that we have made to the program since its inception are also described, which will allow other departments interested in developing a TA in Residence program to avoid some of the pitfalls that we initially encountered.