Professional Development for International Teaching Assistants and Graduate Students

TitleProfessional Development for International Teaching Assistants and Graduate Students
OtherUBC Continuing Studies
Duration1 Year
Project Summary

From 1998 to 2002, international graduate students made up 15-16% of the total graduate student population. This number has increased to 23% since 2003. UBC has a responsibility to ensure that these students are provided with the skills to effectively adapt to the Canadian academic environment and to be successful in their own graduate studies. In addition, as graduate students, some of them will be Teaching Assistants and will need to provide effective and culturally appropriate instruction to undergraduate students. For 15 years, the Professional Development for International Teaching Assistants and Graduate Students Program has provided an important and unique service to the UBC community, complementing the Instructional Skills Workshops offered by the Centre for Teaching and Academic Growth (TAG). A few departments are now requiring international TAs and international graduate students to take this program. The Earth and Ocean Sciences and Physics and Astronomy departments require international TAs, who receive poor evaluations in their first semester, to take this program as they highly recommend the program to international graduate students who wish to be considered for teaching assistant positions. Other faculties have indicated interest in establishing similar requirements to encourage international graduate students in their departments to participate in the program. The Math department will encourage current and incoming international post-doctorate fellows to participate in this program.


  • To support and strengthen UBC’s commitment to internationalization by preparing international graduate students for teaching and research assistant positions in their departments as well as in their future professional careers.
  • To build effective presentation, teaching, and cross-cultural communication skills among international graduate students to increase their ability to exchange knowledge and skills effectively.
  • To develop successful academic communication and teamwork practices among international graduate students who will be representing UBC at seminars, meetings, and professional conferences.
  • To improve the learning experiences of thousands of UBC undergraduate students, in all faculties, who receive instruction from international teaching assistants.
  • To provide a supportive community of international graduate students across disciplines.


  • Weekly interactive workshop on effective teaching, presentation, and intercultural communication skills, instructor and peer evaluation, feedback and video analysis.
  • Classroom and research laboratory observations and one-on-one coaching to build effective teaching and communication strategies to fit the Canadian educational environment and the distinct requirements of each academic field.
  • Email list-serve for discussion and follow-up as another means of support.
Funding Details
Year 1: Project YearYear 1
Year 1: Funding Year2006/2007
Year 1: Project TypeSmall TLEF
Year 1: Principal InvestigatorHelena Hensley
Year 1: Funded Amount61,500
Year 1: Team Members

Helena Hensley, Centre for Intercultural Communication, UBC Continuing Studies
Jane Hutton, Centre for Intercultural Communication, UBC Continuing Studies