Jun 13 – 19, 2015
University of Alberta
America/Edmonton timezone
Welcome to the 2015 CAP Congress! / Bienvenue au congrès de l'ACP 2015!

The University of Calgary Instructor of Record mentorship program: helping graduate students make the transition to becoming effective instructors

Jun 17, 2015, 2:30 PM
CCIS L1-160 (University of Alberta)

CCIS L1-160

University of Alberta

Oral (Non-Student) / orale (non-étudiant) Physics Education / Enseignement de la physique (DPE-DEP) W2-8 Labs and/or undergraduate research experiences (DPE) / Expériences de recherche en laboratoire et/ou au premier cycle (DEP)


Michael Wieser (University of Calgary)


For most graduate students, the only exposure to undergraduate teaching comes from interacting with students in a junior teaching laboratory or tutorial, or perhaps giving an individual lecture to cover the absence of a faculty member. When graduate students eventually become instructors, they are given the challenging task of teaching a lecture section without much experience and with virtually no formal instruction in this very different learning environment. In this situation, junior instructors are faced with preparing coherent lectures and leading a large group of students in the discovery and understanding of basic Physical concepts. In order to help select graduate students gain experience, the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Calgary is pioneering its own mentorship and instructional experience program, which enables PhD students who are in the final stages of their degree to assume the full responsibility for a lecture section of a first-year introductory Physics course (to date an introductory course on mechanics). Under the guidance of experienced faculty members, the graduate student is responsible for the preparation and delivery of a full set of lecture sessions for one term. In collaboration with experienced physics instructors and broader experts in teaching development, the graduate students receive ongoing mentorship throughout the term and feedback on their lectures twice during the semester. This provides them with the opportunity to try different teaching strategies in the classroom and receive constructive criticism on the effectiveness of their work. After two years, and four graduate student instructors of record, the feedback from participants has been highly positive. Classroom observations reveal that the young instructors are receptive to suggestions to improve their instruction and quickly develop important teaching skills that help them become successful teachers. This presentation will provide an overview of the evolving structures and processes used in this program, as well as a discussion of the strengths, successes, and challenges that we found over its now two years of operation.

Primary author

Michael Wieser (University of Calgary)


Dr Andrew Yau (University of Calgary) Dr David Feder (University of Calgary) Dr Jason Donev (University of Calgary) Dr Leslie Reid (University of Calgary) Dr Thompson Robert (University of Calgary)

Presentation materials

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