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Centre for Teaching & Learning

Centre for Teaching & Learning

Graduate Teaching Certificates

Graduate Teaching Certificate Program 2018-19


The Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Trent University welcomes graduate students to enroll in the Graduate Teaching Certificate (GTC) program. Often, graduate students come into their role as a teaching assistant (TA) without any formal training or experience. This can make their initial experience a point of significant stress and difficulty. The GTC was developed to help transition Graduate TAs into their role by providing an opportunity for developing professional teaching skills and expanding pedagogical knowledge. This is a free program facilitated by the CTL and members of the Trent University teaching community.

CTL Face-to-Face Session Schedule: Winter 2019

Understanding the Art and Science of Teaching

Facilitator: Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

Tuesday January 8th, 2019, 10:30 – 12:00 pm

Bata Library, Deborah Berrill Design Studio Room 206

This session opens the discussion about the balancing act of knowing what to teach and how to teach it. We will explore theoretical frameworks and practical applications for successful collaborations between pedagogy and student learning. Participants will be learning about research findings on effective teaching strategies and student engagement while discussing how these principles can be applied to their own teaching practice. Evidence based practices and measurable classroom changes will be reviewed.

Register here

Using Blackboard

Facilitator: Nick Rogoza

Wednesday, January 23, 2019, 10:00 – 12:00 pm

Bata Library, Deborah Berrill Design Studio Room 206

Blackboard is a powerful application that is designed to cater to many possibilities and use-cases. However, many people can find it challenging to use in a way that maximizes student engagement and effective communication. This session will introduce graduate students to the LMS and include topics such as: how to navigate a course, grading using grade center, grading tests or assignment, and how to include feedback on assignments.

*Please bring a laptop or tablet to participate in this interactive session*

Register here

Academic Integrity

Facilitator: Dana Capell, Academic Skills Instructor

Thursday January 24, 2019, 10:00 – 11:30 am

Bata Library, Deborah Berrill Design Studio Room 206

Academic integrity is at the heart — the core value — of the academic enterprise. Achieving it requires an ongoing commitment by all levels of the university community. This presentation will provide an overview of the extent and types of academic misconduct university students report engaging in, TA and faculty views of this behaviour, and possible explanations for why academic misconduct is occurring. Information about the AI processes at Trent will be reviewed, and how TAs can navigate these processes to support students and faculty.

Register here

Teaching Portfolios

Facilitator: Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

Thursday January 31st, 2019, 10:00 – 11:30 am

Bata Library, Deborah Berrill Design Studio Room 206

Our teaching portfolio is evidence of our teaching philosophy, pedagogy and practice. This session will introduce the different types of teaching portfolios and their strengths and uses. We will also provide participants with criteria for: collecting resources and material for your teaching portfolio, selecting the most relevant evidence, and writing brief reflections to frame those samples. Discussions regarding the collection, selection and reflection of samples will focus on teaching, but will also address evidence of research abilities.

Register here

Facilitating Classroom Discussions & Engagement

Facilitator: Michael Jorgensen, Psychology Instructor

Tuesday February 5th, 2019, 1:00 – 2:30 pm

Bata Library, Deborah Berrill Design Studio Room 206

Often, Teaching Assistants are responsible for facilitating discussion and promoting student engagement during seminars, workshops, and labs. This session will outline strategies for effective facilitation including knowing when to lead and when to listen. Additionally, this will be an opportunity for open-ended discussion about common issues incoming TAs may have regarding student engagement.

Register here

Assessment Practice and How to Give Feedback

Facilitator: Erin Stewart Eves, Academic Skills Instructor

Thursday February 7th, 2019, 12:00 – 1:30 pm

Bata Library, Deborah Berrill Design Studio Room 206

Assessment of student learning is a core role for the graduate teaching assistant, and it requires a set of competencies rarely developed in undergraduate learning, which can cause novice TAs some distress. This session has been designed to introduce tools for consistent and meaningful assessment of student learning and to provide strategies for TAs to support students as they complete their first assignments in the term.

Register here

Decolonizing the Academy

Facilitator: Mitch Huguenin, Indigenous Pedagogy Designer

Thursday March 7, 2019, 10:00 – 11:30 am

Bata Library, Deborah Berrill Design Studio Room 206

Please join us for an interactive session about the best practices for incorporating Indigenous Knowledge in non-Indigenous courses and to learn more about other initiatives to enhance Indigenous reconciliation at Trent.

Register here

Making Space for Difficult Debates: Critical Inquiry, and Best Speech

Facilitator: Professor Gillian Balfour, Associate Dean, Teaching & Learning

Wednesday March 13th, 2019, 10:00 – 11:30 am

Bata Library, Deborah Berrill Design Studio Room 206

The topic of critical debate of controversial issues from climate change to gender politics, is one that has gained recent attention, particularly within academic institutions. As a result, graduate TAs often feel uncertain of how to best explore difficult topics and engage students in critical inquiry. This session focus on how to facilitate authentic classroom engagement that is rooted in intellectual autonomy.

Register here

Online Pedagogy & Teaching

Facilitator: Senior eLearning Designer

Thursday March 14th, 2019, 10:00 – 11:30 am

Bata Library, Deborah Berrill Design Studio Room 206

How do online courses differ from those offered face to face? What does the research suggest best teaching practices are for online courses? How does the role of the TA differ in an online course and how can they best support faculty and students? These are the questions that will be explored during this session. The structure will be informative and discussion based. The aim will be to address specific questions that incoming TAs might have about working with an online course.

Register here

Professionalism & Explicit Articulation for Job Readiness

Facilitator: Michael Jorgensen, Psychology Instructor

Tuesday March 19th, 2019, 1:00 – 2:30 pm

Bata Library, Deborah Berrill Design Studio Room 206

Being a teaching assistant can be difficult and time-consuming, but also an incredibly rewarding experience. Working as a TA helps to prepare grad students for future employment by developing personal and professional skills. This session will discuss the professional expectations of the TA, and how one can articulate their experience and skills toward future employment opportunities.

Register here

About This Program

The development of the GTC program was informed by the Framework for Teaching Assistance Competency Development, created by the Teaching Assistant Graduate Student Advancement (TAGSA) group of the Society of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) (Korpan, Le-May Sheffield, & Verwoord, 2015). This framework has identified competencies that articulates what being a capable TA looks like in terms of skills, performance, and responsibilities.

Diagram displaying the framework for Teaching Assistance Competency Development

Reference: Korpan, C., Le-May Sheffield, S., & Verwoord, R. (2015). Teaching assistant competencies in Canada: Building a framework for practice together. CELT, 7, 219-230.

Program Goals

The purpose of the Graduate Teaching Certificate (GTC) is to provide graduate students with an opportunity to develop professional teaching skills and pedagogical knowledge. In successfully completing the certificate requirements, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify their values, goals, and responsibilities as a TA within your discipline.

  2. Gain effective teaching experience and create a teaching portfolio of this experience.

  3. Seek out knowledge about pedagogy and teaching strategies that enhance your TA work.

  4. Cultivate a positive learning environment that accommodates the learning needs of students.

  5. Engage in reflective practice and recognize how this and other forms of feedback can inform your approach to TA work.

  6. Develop professional teaching skills including interpersonal communication, time management, and conflict resolution.


Participants in the Graduate Teaching Certificate (GTC) are required to fulfil three components: Online Modules, In-Person Sessions, and a Capstone Project. The certificate will require a total time commitment of 36 hours (in line with university recommendations for an academic course). Specific requirements for each component are highlighted below:

  1. Lynda Online Modules
    • Focus: Professional teaching skill development
    • Platform: Lynda.com
    • Requirements: 6 out of 10 modules
    • Duration of Sessions: 1-2 hours
    • Total Time Requirement: 15 hours
  2. CTL Sessions:
    • Focus: Professional teaching skill development
    • Facilitator(s): CTL, faculty, and staff at Trent University
    • Requirements: 6 out of 10 sessions
    • Duration of Sessions: 1-2 hours
    • Total Time Requirement: 12 hours
  3. Capstone Project:
    • Focus:
    • Facilitator(s): Independent work with help from CTL as needed
    • Requirements: One (1) demonstrable piece of high impact practical work and a one (1) page reflection.
    • Total Time Requirement: 5-10 hours

The Capstone Project

What is a Capstone Project?

A Capstone Project is an experiential education opportunity. It allows Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) to take the skills they have developed and refined over the duration of the certificate and apply it to an area of interest. Specifically, all GTAs will engage in a high impact practical exercise and write a brief reflection of their experience completing it. Examples of this practical exercise include: pedagogical research (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning - SoTL), developing a teaching dossier, presenting a teaching communication (e.g., present at a conference), and engaging in collaborative teaching practice (e.g., designing a tool, assessment, or lecture). The responsibility of the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) will be to provide support and guidance in the completion of the project. However, this will be primarily independent work.

Capstone Reflection Submission Requirements

Please complete the capstone reflection assignment. Your submission is to be min. 1500 to max. 3000 words, in APA or MLA format. Submit your paper to teaching@trentu.ca with CAPSTONE Reflection in the subject line. This assignment is the final stage of the Graduate Teaching Certificate program.

Pick an event or an experience that you can reflect upon to demonstrate your learning that has occurred while you have been working within the GTC program. Please contact robynehanley@trentu.ca if you want to discuss your assignment.

Consider the following questions.

  • What? What happened? What did you learn? What did you do? What did you expect? What was different? What was your reaction?

  • So What? Why does it matter? What are the consequences and meanings of your experiences? How do your experiences link to your academic, professional and/or personal development?

  • Now What? What are you going to do as a result of your experiences? What will you do differently? How will you apply what you have learned?

Next, please complete the questions below and include your answers in the body of the email with your capstone reflection submission. We will be using this information to showcase GTC related capstone projects on the CTL website. Please indicate if you would like your project summary to be posted anonymously, otherwise your first name, and last initial will be posted. Reflections will not be posted – only the Name, Program, Title, & Summary statements.

  • Your Name
  • Your Department/Program
  • Title of Capstone Project
  • Summary (4–5 sentences)

Let’s take a look at the different types of projects one might complete:

  1. Pedagogical Research (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning - SoTL): The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) has been defined as “a broad set of practices that engage teachers in looking closely and critically at student learning in order to improve their own courses and programs, and to share insights with other educators who can evaluate and build on their efforts.” (Hutchings, Huber, & Ciccone, 2011, p. xix). When individuals engage in activities like these, and do so with intent to explore and evaluate student learning, they are beginning to conduct SoTL. An important goal of SoTL is to enhance and augment learning amongst and between individual learners by investigating the many features of discipline specific expertise and best pedagogical practice (McKinney, 2006). As McKinney (2006) describes, “the scholarship of teaching and learning … involves systematic study of teaching and/or learning and the public sharing and review of such work through presentations, performance, or publications” (p. 39). Therefore, a Capstone Project conducting SoTL could be involve conducting a small research project on one’s teaching practices. For more information or direction regarding a potential SoTL project, please contact the CTL.

  2. Developing a Teaching Dossier: A teaching dossier is a professional document that provides an overview of one’s teaching philosophy, experience, and abilities. Most professional teaching positions require a document such as this as part of the application process. Some items that may be included in a teaching dossier are: teaching philosophy, teaching responsibilities, examples of educational administration and leadership, and feedback from students and colleagues, to name a few. The purpose of developing a teaching dossier to provide a representation of you and you work by documenting your experiences and strengths as an educator by presenting facts, evidence, and self-reflection. The CTL hosts a session for graduate students on how to develop a teaching portfolio. The session will introduce the different types of teaching portfolios and their strengths and uses. We will also provide participants with criteria for: collecting resources and material for your teaching portfolio, selecting the most relevant evidence, and writing brief reflections to frame those samples. Attending this session is very beneficial to those who choose to develop a teaching dossier for their capstone project.

  3. Present a Teaching Communication (e.g., present at a conference): Presenting a teaching communication such as a poster, presentation, or paper at a conference, is another way for graduate TAs to engage in a high impact practical exercise. As McKinney (2006) describes, “the scholarship of teaching and learning … involves systematic study of teaching and/or learning and the public sharing and review of such work through presentations, performance, or publications” (p. 39). Seeking out opportunities to share your experience as a TA is not only beneficial to your own professional development, but the development of other TAs. What part of your TA experience went well and why? What didn’t go well? How could you improve? By reflecting on your experience and sharing this with others, you contribute to the development of teaching in higher education. If you are interested in this for your capstone project, the CTL is available to support you (such as ideas for possible conferences, or support developing the communication piece).

  4. Collaborative teaching practice (e.g., designing a tool, assessment, or lecture): As a TA, you will be working alongside teaching faculty to present a course to students. During this time, you may have a chance to collaborate with teaching faculty to develop a piece of work used in the course. Examples of this might include an assessment (e.g., assignment rubric and outline) or a guest lecture. The collaboration with the teaching faculty will provide TAs with an opportunity for feedback and guidance.

CTL Sessions for Graduate TAs

What are the CTL Sessions?

The CTL hosts a series of in-person workshop sessions for graduate teaching assistants. Topics include using blackboard, giving effective feedback, navigating difficult discussions, and more. These sessions range from informative to activity and discussion based depending on the session topic. Each session is offered once per semester (see schedule on CTL website for details). There are 10 sessions offered specifically for graduate teaching assistants. As per the requirements of the Graduate Teaching Certificate (GTC), six of these must be completed to obtain the certificate. Students may attend these sessions even if they are not enrolled in the GTC.

Lynda Online Modules

What are the Lynda Online Modules?

To complement the in-person CTL sessions and the Capstone Project, the CTL has collaborated with Lynda.com to provide a series of online videos tutorials. These include key topics relevant to graduate students in their role as teaching assistants and beyond, as they progress into other areas of professional employment. Some topics include conflict resolution, public speaking, teaching complex topics, professionalism in the classroom, and more. There are 10 modules included in the playlist. As per the requirements of the Graduate Teaching Certificate, completion of eight of these modules is required to obtain the certificate.

Program Registration

In order to register for the Graduate Teaching Certificate, you must complete the following steps:

  1. Application Process
    • Send an email confirming your interest in the GTC to Brandon Remmelgas (Administrative Coordinator, CTL & Trent Online) at teaching@trentu.ca

    • You must include your Trent email and student number, as this is required to give you access to Blackboard and Lynda.com

  2. Blackboard Access

    • Once your registration has been confirmed by Gillian Ferguson-Martin you will be given access to the Blackboard course where you will find additional information including how to access the Lynda.com modules, the schedule for CTL sessions, and the Capstone Project submission.

    • All progress tracked by the students through Blackboard.

If you participated in the certificate program before and have partially completed some of the requirements, please send an email to teaching@trentu.ca to learn more information about how to transfer any previously earned credits.

» Download the 2018/2019 Graduate Teaching Certificate handout.

If you have ideas for a workshop, event, presentation, panel discussion or other event, please feel free to email the Centre for Teaching and Learning

For more information about the Centre for Teaching and Learning or events, please contact teaching@trentu.ca.