ENGINEERS TEACHING COMMUNICATION: EVALUATING THE IMPACT OF TA TRAINING ON GRADUATE STUDENT COMMUNICATION, TEACHING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Nikita Dawe, Jeff Harris, Melanie Stevenson, Deborah Tihanyi

Abstract


The Engineering Communication Program
works with engineering TAs in the Department of
Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University
of Toronto to deliver communication instruction in core
design courses. Engineering TAs’ disciplinary expertise
affords increased credibility with students, and we have
had consistent anecdotal evidence from TAs that teaching
communication has made them better communicators.
Currently, training involves a combination of instruction
and mentorship, both from faculty and each other.
Here, we investigate TAs’ increased confidence and
skill in communication and teaching: what they find
useful, how the training has influenced their
communication and teaching practice, and what more
they would like to explore in the future. An initial survey
and discussion found that confidence was shaped by
experience, course-specific training, instructor feedback,
and peer learning. We hope to build on these findings in
future through a broader study of TAs in the Faculty and
further development of our TA training programs

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