Training and Supporting Graduate Teaching Assistants in Physics

University of Durham,
Conference Room, Ogden Centre, Department of Physics
29 February 2012

This meeting was aimed at those with interests and responsibilities in working with PhD students and Research Staff who are contributing to teaching programmes. This often takes the form of tutoring and demonstrating.

Such personnel have research as their main responsibility, but can bring useful skills and attitudes to undergraduate teaching.  

  • How can they best be helped to prepare for these teaching responsibilities in a time-efficient manner?  
  • How can they best be supported to undertake the sometimes challenging work of supporting learners in labs and tutorials?   

Our invited speakers gave us the benefit of their experience of institutional and departmental programmes, and included a perspective from a graduate teaching assistant.  The meeting was organised by the Higher Education Group of the Institute of Physics in collaboration with the Higher Education Academy

Report on the meeting (PDF, 288 KB)


10:45-11:15Arrival and Coffee
11:15Welcome, Bruce Sinclair, University of St Andrews
11:20-11:50Setting the Scene, from an Institutional Perspective (PDF, 95 KB)
Lowry McComb, Durham University, Director of Researcher Development in the University, and member of the physics department
11:50-12:10Reflecting on the outcomes of the Durham teaching skills programme (PDF,139 KB)
Daniel Bright, Durham University former Physics PhD student, now research staff
12:10-12:40Teaching for Researchers Programme: A Blended Learning Approach (PDF,1 MB)
Lynn Clark, University of Manchester
12:40-13:00Introducing teaching assistants to threshold concepts (PDF, 2 MB)
Ray Land, Durham University
14:00-14:30Managing expectations of demonstrator training (Interactive session) (PDF, 246 KB)
Ruth Mewis, Higher Education Academy, formerly HEA Physical Science Centre
14:30-15:00More than paid help: the professional development of physics teaching assistants (PDF, 228 KB)
Karon McBride, University of Edinburgh School of Physics and Astronomy
15:00-15:30Training and Support of Lab Demonstrators at Imperial College, London (PDF, 654 KB )
Roland Smith, Imperial College
Presentation with audio available on YouTube - Part 1 Part 2
15:30-16:00Training graduate teaching assistants: approaches and resources (PDF, 1 MB)
Paul Yates, Higher Education Academy Discipline Lead in Physical Sciences