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Why Should We Prepare Graduate Students to Teach?

For the Good of the Department/Institution:
  1. Better preparation of undergraduates: Well-prepared Teaching Assistants (TAs) provide better help for learning of undergraduate students, and improve the quality of undergraduate education thus enhancing the reputation of the department and the institution.

  2. More efficient support for faculty: The provision of departmental training in basic teaching skills ensures a certain level of competence for all TAs.

  3. Enhanced reputation of graduates: A department's reputation is based not only on the research work of its graduates, but also on their abilities to succeed at their future places of employment.

  4. Wise use of resources: TAs allow institutions to provide a high quality education to a large student body at a nominal cost.

For the Good of the Graduate Student:
  1. Building self-confidence: Preparing graduate students for their role as TAs (and perhaps as future professors) helps alleviate the anxiety associated with teaching inexperience, and increases their self-confidence.

  2. Improving efficiency: A little time spent learning the basics of teaching and how to manage it can make TAs much more efficient at the task, thus leaving them more time to work on their research.

  3. Teaching as a set of transferable skills: Teaching skills can be applied to careers in a number of different sectors in the labour market.

  4. Gaining the edge in the job search: Students who are able to show that they have had some training in teaching during their graduate years will be more competitive in their job searches.


  5. It is the right thing to do.

  • Adapted from Svinicki, M. (1995). A Dozen Reasons Why We Should Prepare Graduate Students to Teach, Journal of Graduate Teaching Assistant Development 3 (1) 5-8, Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press.

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    Last updated June 24, 1997

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