Winter Conference on Teaching

Please join us on Saturday, January 30th, 2016 for a day of workshops to continue learning about effective teaching and become re-energized for a second term in the classroom. Attend the day and receive up to three credits from the Future Professor Series towards your Certificate in University Teaching and Learning.


University Community Centre (UCC) 147 A/B

Coffee and registration - 9:45 am

Conference Introduction - 10:00 am 

The Graduate Game Plan: Strategies for Success

10:15 am - 12:00 pm, University Community Centre (UCC) 147 A/B

Join our panel of current PhD students and recent graduates to learn how to navigate teaching, research and professional development successfully during your graduate career at Western. Our panelists will share how they have prepared for their careers after graduate school, and how they benefitted from mentorship during their program and what professional development opportunities helped them grow most as scholars and educators.


Ryan Clutterbuck - Kinesiology

Andrea Di Sebastiano, PhD - Physiology and Pharmacology

Lisette Farais Vera - Occupational Therapy

Mark Filipowich - Media Studies

Agnes Herra, PhD - Modern Languages and Literatures

Concurrent A) Learning to Fit in a Virtual Space: Online TA'ing for Science Courses

1:00 pm - 2:30 pm, Weldon Library, Room 258

Facilitator: Leichelle Little, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

How does a virtual “space” affect the way a community forms? Students in large enrollment science courses may have a hard time establishing a sense of presence online and TAs can find these virtual spaces challenging to facilitate learning. This session is focussed on generating solutions for some of the obstacles that TAs may face when teaching in an online environment.

Concurrent B) Supporting Undergraduate Writing in the Humanities: Perspectives from Philosophy and English

1:00 pm - 2:30 pm, University Community Centre (UCC) 147 A/B

Facilitators: Cameron Fenton, Philosophy & Kevin Shaw, English

Cameron will share his strategies for teaching undergraduates how to read and write philosophy papers - methods that are applicable across disciplines in the humanities! Participants will learn how to help students pick out arguments, look for premises, and identify what makes an argument strong or weak. Together, the group will plan ways of demonstrating to students how writing papers helps them to develop useful skills that transfer beyond their coursework.

Next, Kevin will explore how participants can encourage undergraduate students to see writing in English as process over product, discuss overcoming student resistance to revision requests, and provide tips for making the most of office hour interactions with students seeking feedback. Participants will put these principles into practice by evaluating a draft paragraph from an undergraduate essay, and by planning the feedback they would provide to the student during office hours.

Great Ideas for Teaching: Panel Presentation

2:45 pm - 4:15 pm, Weldon Library, Room 258

Winners of the 'Great Ideas for Teaching' competition receive their awards and present their most creative teaching ideas. During the session, you will participate in three innovative active learning experiences.


Great Ideas for Teaching (GIFT) Award

Have you ever had that moment in the classroom when your students finally grasp a difficult concept and you know that all of your hard work and planning has paid off? This January, the Teaching Support Centre wants to recognize and reward outstanding Teaching Assistants for their commitment to undergraduate student learning!     

The Teaching Support Centre selects the winners of the GIFT Award from a competitive pool of proposals submitted by graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. Each proposal provides a summary of an in-class activity, creative assignment, or another strategy that supports undergraduate student learning. Great proposals describe a course- or discipline-specific teaching idea but also include thoughts on how the strategy could be modified for use in other disciplines.

Winning proposals are featured at the Winter Conference on Teaching where each awardee will present their innovative teaching method to other Western grads and postdocs from across disciplines. 


  • A teaching award looks great on a CV and Teaching Dossier - especially when applying for future teaching positions.
  • By presenting their “Great Idea” at the Winter Conference on Teaching, winners have the chance to share successful teaching methods with other graduate student instructors and add an Invited Speaker line to your CV.
  • Winners receive a $100 gift certificate to the Western Bookstore or Hospitality Services.


Prepare and submit a 1-2 page summary of your teaching idea, including the following details:

  • A description of the intended audience (e.g., discipline, department, course, level)  
  • Learning outcomes (i.e., what the students will know or be able to do at the end of the lesson)
  • A lesson outline, including required time and resources
  • An explanation of any core concepts covered in the lesson
  • Your name, department, and contact information



Submit your proposal to Karyn Olsen at by Monday, December 19th, 2016. NOTE: Winners MUST be available on the afternoon of the Winter Conference on Teaching to present their great idea!

Previous Great Ideas for Teaching Award Winners:

Previous Winning Submissions