Grad Student Round Table & Poster Sessions (on teaching)

Event Date & Time

  • May 2, 2017
    4:00 pm - 4:45 pm

Event Description

Round Table 1: Fostering community of practice to support undergraduate learning

Facilitated by: Stephanie Cheung, Laura Super, Analise Hofmann, Lachlan Caunt

A community of practice (CoP) is defined as a group of people, who share a common set of concerns or interests, engage with each other to exchange knowledge, which in turn builds a repertoire of resources (Wenger et al, 2002). It is the active “give-and-take” by the community members that stimulates the enrichment of the repertoire, causing the community to evolve as a whole. A successful example of CoP is the establishment of Wikipedia pages, an open database collectively constructed and maintained by the public. The collaborative features of Wikipedia allow users to view, cross-edit and provide feedback to each other; as a result, this review cycle allows the learning to sustain and grow (Parker and Chao, 2007). In undergraduate education, a well-developed CoP could be beneficial to student learning. CoP could be established among educators, whether it is for same or cross-discipline, for exchanging ideas and experience on teaching. It could also be set up among students, for instance the use of editing or writing “Wiki” posts as a learning tool (Wong et al, 2016). Nonetheless, the biggest challenge the community faces is the dying of CoP due to poor maintenance. In this session, we will discuss how to cultivate a CoP for students’ learning, and how to spice it up by appropriately incorporating technologies and platforms available in the 21st century in order to sustain and nourish the learning community. This workshop will be an opportunity to help participants brainstorm ideas for incorporating their own ongoing learning platforms.

Round Table 2: How important is historical context within introductory classes?

Facilitated by: Analise Hoffman, Stephanie Cheung, Amir Maleki, Laura Super

We learn from our mistakes, and with an understanding of how things were done in the past we can make advances and avoid previous pitfalls that may have been a result of predominant ways of thinking at the time. The question we want to address is, when is it appropriate to present material in the order and context of history, and when is it more appropriate to switch to the context of today? What are the pros and cons for a novice? A commentary, by Dr. Redfield (2012), on the narrative used to teach introductory genetics describes how the traditional historical context, following the order of discoveries, is obsolete and a hinderance to the learning of students within an introductory genetics class. Conversely, a more recent commentary on the topic, by Dr. Zaman in the engineering field (2016), makes the opposite argument that narrative and historical context are important for student learning. Despite the two sides of the argument, both agree that narrative is crucial for teaching content to non expert audiences whether or not it is within a current or historical context. This is a discussion not unique to one field, and a roundtable discussion would compare and contrast considerations that are made in different disciplines while deciding what type of historical narrative and context is the most useful to learners.

Round Table 3: Facilitating content connections to undergraduate students’ daily lives

Facilitated by: Laura Super, Stephanie Cheung, Sina Fazelpour & Amir Maleki

Learners in undergraduate classes may or may not use the material in a particular course again. However, often introductory courses across disciplines provide information that the students could apply to their daily lives during the course and after. How do we help students better make those connections? This session focuses on helping students and teachers make authentic connections, through activities and technologies, to foster learning in and outside the classroom in meaningful ways. For example, biochemistry students could use a mobile phone app to scan in food labels at food places they frequent (coffee shops, grocery stores, etc.), and then in class do an activity to link scans to energy use in the human body mentioned in their textbook. In a first year philosophy course, students could go on a learning trail using technology to explore at different locations on campus how the ethics they are learning in class relates to their daily life interactions (Chow et al., 2015); a possible extension is to also have a class discussion to apply ideas to current events in the news. Classroom teachers in introductory genetics could discuss ways to revamp curricula to cover topics most likely to be used by students in their daily lives (Redfield, 2012) and adopt a community of practice that stresses the whole-person (Cheung et al. 2016) in relation to applying genetics. Join this session to discuss and share these and more ideas about making relevant connections and to learn about implementing new activities in the classroom.

Round Table 4: Understanding Learners & Learning

Facilitated by: Shawn Hetherington

This round table discussion will be centered around understanding student learning in the classroom. The idea is to create discussion on methods and approaches to understanding how your students are learning (and maybe why they are/are not). The questions will include seeking input from the audience on different methods used in their teaching to understand/evaluate student learning while bringing up key methods I believe to be vital in understanding student learning.

Objective: Provide insight on how to go about understanding and building professional relationships with your students. This helps you understand the needs of your learners while also building their trust in you as an instructor. Lastly I will present ways that I have used in my teaching and the feedback I have received in an attempt to validate the proposed thoughts and methods.

I has conducted a SoTL project looking at perception of teaching/learning methods between students and instructors. This may prove a beneficial addition to the discussion depending on direction it takes

Round Table 5 :How should learners be changed by my discipline?

Facilitated by: Joseph Topornycky

This round table discussion will focus on the goals and aims of our teaching. What changes are we trying to support when we teach? Do we simply intend for students to be able to repeat content? Or is there something deeper? How do these things relate to what disciplinary practitioners (biologists, journalists, philosophers, engineers) actually do when they are engaging in professional practice? Finally, how does what we teach and the way we teach it relate back to these practices?

Poster 1: Connecting the Dots: A Practical Approach to Transforming Lesson Design

Presented by: Mabel Ho & Jens Vent-Schmidt

As facilitators for diverse teaching and learning workshops, we work with faculty and graduate students across many different disciplines. We witnessed many workshop attendees struggling with the application and alignment of all lesson components, which were often seen as discrete rather than interconnected.
Educational researchers (Ambrose et. al, 2010; Herrington et. al 2014; Kolb, 1984; Major and Palmer, 2006) emphasize the importance of designing lessons that

• continuously motivate learners
• have clear learning objectives
• use well-aligned experiential learning techniques that enable learners processing their learning through different stages
• create spaces for students to reflect on their learning, for example through well-aligned assessment techniques

To address this lack of appreciation of interconnectedness, we developed and facilitated a lesson planning workshop that centred on creating authentic learning experiences using a design thinking approach. In this workshop, participants shared their lesson design practice and developed a toolkit of how to generate meaningful learning experiences.

With this poster, we report our lessons learned from this workshop and reflect on future iterations in diverse settings.

Both authors contributed equally to this work.

Poster 2: Sociology TA Training Program

Presented by: Dr. Silvia Bartolic

Poster 3: BioTAP: Biology Teaching Assistant Professional Development Program – Building a teaching community

Presented by: Dr. Kathy Nomme

BioTAP offers a series of seven workshops to graduate student teaching
assistants through which they develop their teaching skills and are
introduced to best practices in pedagogy. Senior TAs serve as facilitators
and informal mentors.  Similarly Instructors are invited to share their
wealth of teaching experience with novice TAs.  The result is a network of
TAs (novice and experienced) and instructors that support each other in
the delivery of quality undergraduate learning experiences.

Poster 4: TA Professional Development in UBC Physics and Astronomy

Presented by: Deborah Good, Jeff Bale & Dominik Neuenfeld

The Department of Physics and Astronomy Teaching Assistant Professional Development program consists of three main components: a two-day workshop for incoming TAs, a Mentor TA program, and a course-specific training program led by course-specific Head TAs in large first year courses. Four graduate student coordinators manage, implement, and ensure proper realization of these elements. All new TAs participate in the core workshop and it serves as the foundation of their professional development as educators. The workshop is structured to help TAs gain exposure to effective classroom pedagogies, such as Socratic questioning, to develop the general teaching skills and competencies, and to introduce them to a learner-centred teaching philosophy. The Mentor TA program gives new TAs the opportunity to have one-on-one discussions with and to get feedback from a more experienced TA in an informal and comfortable setting. The course-specific training program supports early-career TAs and provides more directed training resources.

This event is part of the Grad Mini Conference. See below for a full outline of events.

Grad Mini Conference Schedule

Day 1: 9:15-4:45

9:15-9:45 OPENING: Dr. Joseph Topornycky, Manager of Graduate Student Programs, CTLT, UBC
9:45-10:45 60 min Participatory session: Breaking the Ice: Exploring Icebreakers and their value
(Arnab Ray & Katharina Rothe)
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00 – 12:00 60 min Participatory session: The Fundamentals of Developing Effective Learning Outcomes
(Gurprit Randhawa)
12:00-12:45 Lunch Break
12:45–2:30 Icebreaker/ energizer (Jens Vent-Schmidt)
90 min participatory session: Designing Classrooms that Promote Learner’s Awareness
(Mabel Ho, Arnab Ray & Jens Vent-Schmidt)
2:30-2:45 Break
2:45-3:45 60 min participatory session: Guidelines for Developing an Impressive Teaching Dossier/Portfolio
(Gurprit Randhawa)
3:45-4:00 Break Poster session:

  1. Connecting the Dots: A Practical Approach to Transforming Lesson Design (Mabel Ho & Jens Vent-Schmidt)
  2. Sociology TA Training (Silvia Bartolic)
  3. BioTAP: Biology Teaching Assistant Professional Development Program – Building a teaching community (Kathy Nomme)
  4. TA Professional Development in UBC Physics and Astronomy (Deborah Good, Jeff Bale & Dominik Neuenfeld)




Round tables:

  1. Fostering community of practice to support undergraduate learning (Stephanie Cheung, Laura Super, Analise Hofmann & Lachlan Caunt)
  2. How important is historical context within introductory classes? (Analise Hofmann, Laura Super & Stephanie Cheung)
  3. Facilitating content connections to undergraduate students’ daily lives (Laura Super, Stephanie Cheung, Sina Fazelpour & Amir Maleki)
  4. Understanding Learners & Learning (Shawn Hetherington)
  5. How should learners be changed by my discipline? (Joseph Topornycky)
(Break and Rotate)

Day 2:

9:30-11:15 Icebreaker/ energizer (Mabel Ho)
90 min participatory session: Creating Inclusive Classrooms: Universal Design for Learners
(Deborah Chen & Mabel Ho)
11:15-11:30 Break
11:30-12:30 60 min participatory sessions: Integrating Reflection into your Teaching Practice
(Jason McAlister)
12:30-1:15 Lunch break
1:15-1:45 30 min Presentation: Students as Public Scholars In Training
(Madeleine Ransom)
1:45-4:00 Panel:
Dr Glenn Deer, English Department, UBC
Dr Silvia Bartolic, Sociology Department, UBC
E. Jean Buckler, PhD Candidate, School of Kinesiology, UBC
Christine Sumner, PhD Candidate, Animal Welfare, UBC
4:00-4:30 CLOSING


Venue Website:

1961 East Mall V6T 1Z1, Vancouver


formerly Lillooet Room.