K.U. Leuven (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 1017-1024
ISBN: 978-84-615-5563-5
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain
An experience which is shared by many university teaching assistants (typically PhD students with an additional teaching responsibility) is that coaching practice sessions is initially a challenging task. Moreover, support and guidance of new teaching assistants in their teaching activities is often minimal or non-existing. Therefore the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering at the Catholic University Leuven (K.U.Leuven) both introduced educational training programmes for PhD students a couple of years ago. In order to guarantee a high quality of education for all students and since practice sessions are an important step in a student’s learning process the training programmes recently became mandatory for all new PhD students.

In this paper the evolution of both programmes is discussed, which is driven by a constant search for effectiveness with an optimal balance between flexibility and feasibility. On the one hand, teaching assistants with different teaching tasks need dissimilar types of support. On the other hand, flexible and almost individual guidance is not always feasible in terms of capacity of supporting staff.
The various aspects of the programmes are elaborated such as thematical sessions, the use of real-life cases, peer review of didactical skills, observations by experienced teaching assistants, student questionnaires and feedback sessions
The authors critically evaluate and reflect on the methods used and will potentially inspire other institutions. After all, Feldon et al. (2011) convincingly demonstrated that junior researchers’ teaching experiences improve their methodological research skills, so why not improve their pedagogical skills?