Students holding a teaching assistantship (TA) will typically be assigned to teaching a small class and/or conducting tutorial sessions and/or instructing computer labs. TAs are obliged to demonstrate and maintain a satisfactory level of communication skills and teaching performance. TA duties provide a forum for ongoing development of communication and teaching skills, but presume the student has already achieved a reasonable level of proficiency.
If no problems with communication or teaching arise from student evaluations or faculty concerns, for example, then no remedial action is taken. If a problem with communication skills is detected then a language committee is formed for the student.
If a problem is detected in teaching, the Graduate Advisor deals with it, in conjunction with the faculty member responsible for TA training and evaluation.
Failure to maintain satisfactory communication and teaching can result in the reduction or cancellation of TA ships.
Moreover, the longer a student is a TA, the more is expected by the Department. In particular, by the end of a Ph.D. program a student should be able to teach a course.
During the academic year, some students receive some financial support as graduate Research Assistants. In the summer months, virtually all students are supported in the role. Research assistantships (RA's) are available from research grants and contracts held by individual faculty members. Typically, entering students do not receive an RA. However, there are ample RA opportunties once a student has demonstrated the necessary statistics, computer and communciation skills. Often RA work will evolve into a thesis or project, leading to publications. RA work is definitely not routine. It is challenging, involving the development of quite a few skills. Through the RA-ship, students learn to work independently. Thus, RA-ships are an integral part of the graduate program learning experience.Recently, students have served as RA's on a variety of research projects. In addition to research supported by individual faculty research grants, students are working with Air Care (the province's automobile emission monitoring agency), with the Environmental Protection Agency on a joint project with Harvard University, with the BC Lung Association on a joint project with researchers in Medicine at UBC, and with the Multiple Sclerosis/MRI study conducted in Medicine at UBC.