During my short time as a Graduate & Postdoctoral Programs at CTE, I have come to realize how outstanding CTE’s graduate and postdoctoral programs really are. Our programs support UWaterloo graduate students and postdocs in their knowledge and skill development as university TAs and current and future instructors. The three programs offered, at no cost to the student, include the Fundamentals of University Teaching and the Certificate of University Teaching for graduate students and the Teaching Development Series for postdoctoral fellows.
During my time, I have been fortunate to receive feedback on the impacts these programs have had on graduate students. Participants have described our programs as integral to exposing them to new teaching approaches, increasing their ability to self-reflect and improving their confidence and skills in teaching. Here is what one participant had to say about his experience after completing one of our programs, “When I started doing my PhD, I never really considered the teaching component, but I have to admit that I really enjoy teaching now!” This feedback gives meaning and purpose to our work here in CTE, and we continuously strive to improve our programs and encourage participant growth.
As our enrollment numbers in teaching certificate programs for graduate students continue to grow, we are searching for ways to support our graduate students as they develop their teaching and communication skills through CTE programs. One of my initiatives this term included outreach to those registered in our Fundamentals of University Teaching program. This project included checking in with all 750 registered participants to offer support and follow up on their program progress. In doing so, not only were we able to improve our record keeping, we have also seen an increase in the number of program completions this term and were able to connect with participants who are now employed in faculty roles, not only across the country but across the globe! This outreach initiative provided us an excellent means to not only encourage and assist participants in successful program completion, but also increased participation levels in our teaching workshops for graduate students (even during the busiest times of the academic term)!
A second initiative, undertaken with the help of our Graduate Instructional Developers, TA Workshop Facilitators, and Graduate Programming team as a whole, includes amendments to our Fall term offering of the Fundamentals of University Teaching program, guided by feedback from participants. We have improved the program by introducing an orientation session and additional Q&A support sessions, where participants will receive additional support from our Graduate Instructional Developers. This support will focus on developing their microteaching sessions and provide further opportunity to engage with what they’ve learned.
As the Fall term draws to a close, I am delighted to report that we continue to experience increased interest in all three of our graduate and postdoctoral programs. We are excited about this and hope to see new graduate student participants in our teaching workshops next term. Watch out for the schedule of the teaching events for graduate students coming in the Winter term!