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GTA Workshop frequently asked questions

Graduate School

General questions about GRAD 5004, the Graduate Teaching Assistant Workshop 

Q: What is the course about?

A: Since 1991, Virginia Tech has conducted the Graduate Teaching Assistant Workshop (GRAD 5004), a required pass/fail course designed to provide recommendations and advice from dedicated faculty, staff, and experienced graduate students and to assist GTAs in developing as teachers. The covered topics and material also help develop the knowledge base and skills of future faculty members and aspiring professional practitioners. The course can also be used towards the Future Professoriate Certificate for students intending to become university educators. More information can be found at  on our certificate webpage.

The GTA workshop consists of the following:

  • Phase I is a multi-component day-long workshop and a mandatory element for all GTA workshop participants;
  • Phase II consists of several sessions, including online-training in use of Canvas. Students are required to attend at least three of them:
    • TWO Teaching Techniques and Skills (TTS) sessions,
    • ONE Ethics (Encouraging and Enforcing Honesty in the Classroom) session, and 
  • ONE Writing assignment. This is a 400-word essay about your reflection of either a challenge you faced in your experiences as a teacher or GTA (Topic A), or the most valuable things you learned during one or more of the sessions you attended this semester in the GTA workshop (Topic B).   

Students registered for the GTA Workshop should refer to the syllabus on Canvas for details on these requirements as well as the link to sign up for Phase II sessions through Canvas's scheduler function on the GRAD 5004 Canvas site. 

Q: Who has to take this course?

A: This course is required for all GTAs, preferably during their first semester. Those funded on a GRA or GA appointment or without university funding do not need to take the course, though may elect to do so if seats are available.   

Q: What do I have to do to pass this course?

A: This is a pass/fail class.  In order to pass, a student must complete the elements listed above.  

Q: Who is the instructor and how do I contact them?

A: Dr. Kevin Edgar is the instructor of record for the course.  He organizes the sessions with the help of a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Both Dr. Edgar and the GTA coordinate the class and communicate with the students throughout the semester.  Dr. Edgar is an Associate Dean in the Graduate School and also a professor in the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials at Virginia Tech.  Contact:;  231-9404. 

Questions about GRAD 5004 Phase I 

Q: What is Phase I?

A: Phase I is a multi-component workshop that consists of a set of presentations by speakers who provide information to all GTAs on the following topics:

  • Graduate Education in the 21st Century
  • Family Education Rights and Privacy (FERPA)
  • Computer Security Issues for GTAs
  • Diversity and Inclusion in the Classroom
  • Practicing Excellence and Leadership
  • Undergraduate Honor System
  • Title IX
  • Threat Assessment and Security in the Classroom
  • Services for Students with Disabilities
  • Practicing Excellence and Leadership 

For in-person presentations, bring your Hokie ID to swipe in to verify your attendance.  

Q: When is Phase I held?

A:  In the fall semester, Phase I is held on Tuesday before classes begin; in the spring semester, Phase I is held on Thursday before classes start. Please read all instructions sent to your Virginia Tech email, because these dates and details might change. 

Q: What is Phase II?

A: For fall 2020 we anticipate that all sessions will be delivered only online, and all sessions can be accessed online. Students are required to take TWO Teaching Techniques and Skills (TTS) and ONE Ethics (Encouraging and Enforcing Honesty in the Classroom) sessions. In spring 2021 all sessions will be delivered online as well.

Q: How do I register for Phase II sessions?

A: Students should be able to view the various offerings on Canvas scheduler (under the Calendar tab).

Q: What is the written assignment in the class?

A: Since much of the class is based on attendance we would like you to be able to think about what you have learned and reflect on how this might help your teaching.  A complete description and instructions for preparing and submitting the assignment and examples are posted under Files tab (Resources, Written Assignment section) on Canvas.  You should submit your assignment in the “Assignments” tab on Canvas (not as an attachment to the instructor or GA!) any time during the semester but no later than the first week of November (for Fall semester) or April (for Spring semester).

Q: I am not a GTA or I have taken the class before. How do I drop the class?
A: If you do not have a GTA appointment and will not have one in the future, you may drop the course. 

Q: I am a graduate student who has taught before, I am a student who will be grading only, or I was a GTA in the Spring semester and did not take the class. Do I need to attend the workshop?
A: Yes. This is a required course.

Q: My department is holding its orientation on the same day of the workshop. What should I do?
A: This should not happen. Please inform your department that you must attend the workshop. They can either postpone a part of the department's orientation or finish it early. 

If you choose to attend your departmental meeting, you need to make sure you drop the GTA workshop from your study plan in that semester, and retake it in the following semester. 

Questions about GRAD 5004 Phase II 

Q: How are the points of Online Library Sessions and Securing the Human posted on my gradebook?

A: Please confirm your completion of online sessions by checking your attendance record on Canvas. 

Q: Should I complete all the three Online Library Sessions to satisfy the TTS requirements?

A: No, you are only required to complete TWO of the three Online Library Sessions’ modules. 

Q: What is the minimum passing score for each Online Library Sessions’ modules?

A: The minimum passing score is 70 percent of the total of EACH module point. 

Q: What are the maximum points assigned for each of Phase I and Phase II sessions?

A: Each of Phase I, TTS 1, TTS 2, Ethics sessions, and the Reflection assignment has 20 points. You will be expected to attend the entire session and participate fully. You will get 20 points for each session attendance or completion. If you do not attend, you get 0 (zero) point. 

  • If you do not attend Phase I, you are required to drop the course or you will end up earn an F (FAIL) grade. If you retake the course and earn a passing grade (P), your F grade will be changed to RG. 
  • If you miss one Phase II session during the semester, you will earn an I (Incomplete) grade. This INCOMPLETE grade can be changed to PASS when you complete the missed Phase II session in the following semester. 
  • If you miss two or more Phase II sessions, you will earn an F grade in the class. If you retake the course and earn a passing grade (P), your F grade will be changed to RG. 

Q: What if I was denied attendance points after attending one or some of the sessions?

A: You will be expected to attend each session in their entirety and participate fully.

Q: What if I only need to take TTS or Ethics in the following semester?

A: You should contact the GTA in charge in the following semester via e-mail.