Congratulations to 2015-2016 Graduate Teaching Certificate Recipients

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graduate teaching certificateThe Graduate Teaching Certificate recognizes graduate teaching assistants (GA/RA/TAs) for their participation in the development programs offered by the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. The certificate acknowledges these individuals’ commitment to effective teaching and can enhance their academic credentials.To qualify for this recognition, a graduate teaching assistant must have attended the full-day TA Orientation and at least five (5) programs of shorter duration offered by Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. You can learn more about the certificate at

In the 2015-2016 academic year, 10 individuals earned the certificate:

  • Catherine Ausland, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Steven Chun, Department of Geography
  • Brienne Durfey, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education
  • Autumn James, Department of Geography
  • Adam Lotito, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education
  • Rachel Martiniak, Department of Anthropology
  • Jay Osvatic, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Jennifer Volintine, Department of Anthropology
  • Xiaoying Zhong, Department of Anthropology
  • Yang Zhou, School of Music

It is easy to apply for the Faculty Development & Instructional Design Center Graduate Teaching Certificate! The application form is available online at If you have forgotten which workshops you have attended, or how many you have attended, you can review your workshop history at Log in with both your A-ID and Z-ID to see all of your programs (if you have used different IDs at different times).

New for 2016-2017, we are offering to provide a recommendation on recipients’ LinkedIn Profiles, to validate the recognition. This was highly valued by TAs who responded to our recent campus-wide survey.

Certificates are sent to the teaching assistants’ department to acknowledge their commitment to effective teaching and present the certificates to them. If TAs need a few more workshops to qualify for the certificate, they are encouraged to check the current schedule of TA programs on the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center website.

Results of the 2015 Teaching Assistant Campus-wide Survey

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hands typing on laptopDuring the spring 2015 semester, the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center conducted a survey of all Teaching Assistants at NIU. We send a similar survey every four years to teaching assistants, and survey all faculty and instructors every four years on an alternating schedule (so that we get significant feedback from campus every two years).

This year, 135 teaching assistants responded to the survey. Over 65% of respondents had attended our programs, and nearly 87% found the programs to be applicable to their teaching. Over 75% felt that participation in our programs was beneficial to students. While the majority of respondents knew about the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center and the Teaching with Blackboard websites and found them to be helpful, many did not know that we have a library of Program Archives, which are videos of recorded workshops. Check them out – there are hundreds of workshop recordings that you can access anytime, anywhere.

Many teaching assistants have received or are pursuing the Graduate Teaching Certificate offered by the Center. However, 51% have never heard of it. The Graduate Teaching Certificate is a recognition of your commitment to developing your teaching skill, and can be a valuable asset if you are pursuing a faculty position after graduation. Learn more about the Graduate Teaching Certificate.

Overall, we’d like to thank all of the teaching assistants who responded to our survey. The information you provided was very valuable and we will use it to improve our teaching assistant programming and resources.

2014 Teaching Assistant Orientation – A Great Day of Learning

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Over 200 graduate teaching assistants and presenters gathered in the Duke Ellington Ballroom on the morning of August 19, 2014 for a full day of learning and preparing for their role as teaching assistants. The annual Teaching Assistant Orientation provides an opportunity for new and returning teaching assistants to learn more about teaching and supporting students while networking with their fellow TAs. In the welcome, Dr. Bradley Bond, Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School, summed up the value of graduate teaching assistants by saying, “All of your contributions are important to NIU’s teaching mission and can have a profound impact on our students.”

Matt Streb speaking
Dr. Matthew Streb, Associate Profesor and Chair of the Department of Political Science, providing the keynote for the 2014 Teaching Assistant Orientation

The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center coordinated with not only the Graduate School to facilitate this event, but many other departments and support units to provide a valuable experience for new graduate teaching assistants. The annual event is always well attended and attendees consistently agree or strongly agree that this event will potentially benefit their students. If you weren’t able to attend, you can access any of the handouts and resources here.

three experienced teaching assistants on a panel
Teaching Across the Disciplines – Experienced TA panelists share valuable lessons learned

One of the highlights of the orientation each year is the Teaching Across the Disciplines panel of experienced teaching assistants. This year was no exception, and the five members of the panel shared helpful tips and strategies for being a teaching assistant. On the evaluation, one participant commented, “I really enjoyed the orientation, especially the panel discussion with current TAs. I was not required to come to the orientation by my department, but I am glad I did!”

Dr. David Changnon presenting
Providing Teaching-Related Support breakout session, presented by Dr. David Changnon, Department of Geography

The Teaching Assistant Orientation is offered, each year, to new teaching assistants to begin to develop their skills as TAs, along with introducing them to university resources that will support their work. The general session was followed by 5 breakout sessions in which participants were able to select which to attend. The breakout sessions included Providing Teaching-Related Support, by Dr. David Changnon, Using Grading Strategies to Promote Student Learning, by Dr. Stephen Wallace, Presenting / Communicating Effectively, by Dr. Joseph Scudder, and Teaching Strategies for Engaging Student, by Dr. Jenny Parker. Finally, for experienced TAs who attended the orientation, Dr. Janet Giesen offered Finding Your Teaching Style.


Thank you to all of our presenters and collaborators for their commitment to providing inspiration and direction to the graduate teaching assistants.

Matthew Streb (Department of Political Science) Sarah Klaper (Office of Ombudsperson)
Tim Paquette (Counseling and Student Development Center) Leanne VandeCreek and Larissa Garcia (University Libraries)
Jennifer Pippen (Disability Resource Center) Jason Rhode (Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center)
Brian Glick (Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct) Tyler Mitchell (Department of Mathematical Sciences)
AnDrea James (School of Music) Steven Battaglia (Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences)
Rayanne Nguyen (School of Family, Consumer, and Nutrition Sciences) Jeff Paris (Department of Kinesiology & Physical Education)
David Changnon (Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences) Stephen Wallace (Assessment Services)
Joseph Scudder (Department of Communication) Jenny Parker (Educator Licensure and Preparation)
Janet Giesen (Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center)