TA Orientation


Nearly every undergraduate student at Hopkins interacts at some point with a teaching assistant (TA) who functions in an instructional capacity, and many Hopkins TAs are the full-time faculty of the future.  The mission of the TA Training Institute is to enhance the instructional experience of undergraduate students and to introduce Hopkins TAs to good instructional theory and practice.


Schedule of TA Orientation

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

8:45 AM - 10:00 AM (Bloomberg Auditorium)

Opening Remarks
Matthew Roller, Vice-Dean of Graduate Education, KSAS
Ed Scheinerman, Vice Dean of Graduate Education, WSE
Mike Reese, Associate Dean, CER

Academic Assistance for Undergraduates
Jim Fry, Assistant Dean, Academic Advising

Dealing with Students with Disabilities
Brent Mosser, Academic Support & Disability Services

Relating to Your Students
Leslie Leathers, Staff Psychologist, Counseling Center

Ethics and Academic Integrity
John Toscano, Vice-Dean of Science & Research, KSAS

Faculty Expectations of a Teaching Assistant
Richard Shingles, Director, TA Training Institute

10:15 AM - 10:45 AM
"Preparing for the first day"

A1. Preparing for the First Day: Humanities and Social Sciences (Bloomberg 168)

A2. Preparing for the First Day: Engineering (Bloomberg 274)

A3. Preparing for the First Day: Sciences (Bloomberg 272)

10:50 AM - 11:20 AM
"Supporting a course"

B1. Support for International TAs (Bloomberg 278)
This workshop will address issues of specific concern to international TAs and review sources of support for increasing effective communication and cross-cultural understanding.

B2. Leading Discussions (Bloomberg 168)
This workshop will help participants identify strategies for fostering productive class discussions, such as how to ask questions effectively, engage reticent students, and manage challenges that typically arise in the course of discussions.

B3. Leading Labs: Sciences and Engineering  (Bloomberg 272)
This workshop will instruct TAs on how to create experiential learning environments in laboratories, including attention to common procedures and various instructional styles. We will also address responsibilities, preparation, teaching techniques, engaging students, common difficulties and misunderstandings, leading discussions, problem solving, data issues, and using the blackboard.

B4. Active Learning in Practice (Bloomberg 274)
Come and experience live Active Learning Exercises (ALEs). Find out about tips and tools used in ALEs and how to manage an active classroom.

11:30 AM - Noon
"Evaluating a course"

C1. Using Blackboard (Bloomberg 272)
This workshop will introduce TAs to BLACKBOARD, which is available for every course. An explanation of the various tools and functions of Blackboard that may be useful in TA-led sessions will be given. TAs will be shown the communication tools available and how to use the Gradebook.

C2. Evaluating Writing Assignments (Bloomberg 278)
This workshop will cover the use of rubrics for consistent grading and ways of providing constructive feedback when assessing writing assignments. Fostering correct citation skills and detecting plagiarism will be addressed, and resources for students who need assistance with their writing will be identified.

C3. The Art of Problem Solving Instruction (Bloomberg 168)
This session will be most applicable to TA’s leading sections involving a lot of problem solving. Learn how to conduct such sessions, identify student difficulties and how to evaluate students.

C4. Grading STEM classes (Bloomberg 274)
The STEM TA's most vexing duty is grading problems, and the unprepared are far more likely to make mistakes. Learn tips to grading professionally: the right philosophy and a robust rubric will save you time and safeguard your sanity.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM (Bloomberg 2nd floor Lobby)

During lunch, wander over to the information table for an informal chat with CER and library staff on various topics related to teaching and technology. Worried about not knowing how to answer a question? Concerned about public speaking? Don’t know how to manage a class? Scared of being inadequately prepared? Talk to “seasoned” faculty and TAs about concerns you have for your class.

Some of the resources and services offered by the Center for Educational Resources (CER) and the Library (MSEL) staff include:

  • Blackboard CMS - Amy Brusini
  • Cloud Storage Solutions - Brian Cole
  • Turnitin - Brian Cole
  • JHU Teaching Academy - Kelly Clark
  • Teaching with Library Resources - Stephanie Gamble
  • Teaching Tips & Tricks - Richard Shingles



Resources for Teaching Assistants

Teaching Assistant Manual
The TA Training Institute has developed a manual for TAs called “Making the Difference.” The manual lists general teaching resources available at Hopkins – e.g., TA-specific services offered by the library, services offered to students with disabilities, faculty responsibilities in working with such students, etc. Printed copies of the TA Manual are distributed at the TA Orientation in September and are available from the CER throughout the year.

Teaching Assistant Training Videos


CER has worked with the GRO to ensure its members are informed of all changes to the TA Training program. CER has met with the GRO board to discuss items to go into a TA Training section of the Graduate Student Portal. The GRO website links to the CER website, which in turn, links to TA Training. The GRO also distributes TA training-related information through its list-serv.