The third TA orientation conference of the JI Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT-JI) was held on May 12, 2012.  The purpose of the conference is to provide intensive training for the teaching assistants who are going to teach in the summer semester.  Upon completion the TA’s will be prepared to help the students learn effectively and uphold the quality of teaching at the JI. The participants include Peisen Huang, Associate Dean of Education, Rachel Wang, Director of CLT-JI, a dozen of JI and UM  faculty members, staff members, 46 teaching assistants, and several student volunteers.

Prof. Peisen Huang gave the opening speech.  He recognized the innovative role of CTL-JI which has organized many practical and interesting training sessions to promote teaching excellence at the JI.  He emphasized the important role of TAs who serve as a bridge between the students and the instructors and are a critical link in the teaching process.

The morning sessions consisted of workshops and seminars. Topics included were use of the Sakai system, grading of homework and exams, teaching strategies and techniques. TAs attended the sessions based on their interests and needs.

Over 12 JI instructors took part in the faculty Q&A panel concerning “TA’s Roles and Responsibilities”. During the exchange, the faculty members shared their expectations of good teaching assistants based on their experience and gave many helpful suggestions and tips.
The first annual Outstanding TA Awards Ceremony was held during the lunch hour. The award was established this year to encourage teaching excellence and to recognize the contributions of those dedicated TAs over the years. The four winners are Chen Xi, Long Dan Bing, Gao Jian, and Wang Xianglong, each awarded a plaque and 1000 RMB. Ten of the 14 award nominees came and shared useful tips with new TAs.
The afternoon training involved team competitions in case studies of practical situations. TAs were divided into groups to tackle three “sticky” scenarios, i.e., ”how to meet the needs of students of different levels,” “how to organize English self-study courses,” and “what to do when students ask for higher grades.”  Three winning teams and five individual winners were selected.

Finally, Dr. Rachel Wang gave out awards to the winners of the competition and recognized the contributions of speakers and volunteers.

A survey was conducted at the end of the conference. Based on the anonymous feedbacks, the third TA orientation conference was well received by the TAs, with 95.3% rating it as “excellent” and “superior.” A TA commented, “This conference provided the top opportunity for TAs to communicate with the professors and New TAs. The content is very pragmatic and helpful. I enjoyed this conference.”

Background Information

·         In fall 2010, the UM-SJTU Joint Institute (JI) took the initiative to establish a Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT-JI). Adapting the successful programs and services developed at the CRLT at the University of Michigan, the CLT-JI has provided innovative professional development programs for faculty and teaching assistants at the JI.
·         JI has a total of 80 TAs for the 2012 summer semester, among whom 17 are SJTU students, 1 is a UM student, 62 are JI students (3 JI grad. students and 59 JI undergraduate students).
·         These TAs support 45 courses (48 sections, a few courses have 2 or more sections), taught by a total of 43 instructors, including summer part time faculty.