Virginia Tech® home

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:

There are 7 course requirements that must be completed. Final deadline for completion will be communicated at the start of the course but will be before the official end of the semester, due to the evaluation requirements for such a large enrollment course.

  • Phase I consists of an all day workshop, generally offered about a week before the semester starts
  • Phase II consists of several sessions, some required and some chosen from a menu. Students are required to attend all of the following:
    • TWO Teaching Techniques and Skills (TTS) sessions chosen from a menu,
    • ONE required Ethics (Encouraging and Enforcing Honesty in the Classroom) session, and 
    • ONE required online Canvas training session.
    • ONE required online Computer Security for GTAs quiz

There is also ONE Writing assignment, a 400-600 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).   

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 they may elect to do so.     

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 7  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 Graduate Teaching Assistants. Both Dr. Edgar and the GTAs 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 one-day, multi-component workshop that consists of a set of presentations by speakers who provide information to all GTAs, most recently including the following topics:

  • Graduate Education in the 21st Century
  • Family Education Rights and Privacy (FERPA)
  • Accessible Technologies
  • Graduate Student Panel
  • Services for Students with Disabilities
  • Diversity and Inclusion in the Classroom, Campus and Beyond
  • Turnitin: Plagiarism Framework and Undergraduate Honor System
  • Title IX and VAWA
  • Mental Health and the Pandemic
  • Campus Safety and Security in the Classroom
  • GRAD 5004 Expectations and Requirements

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 the Tuesday before classes start; in the spring semester, Phase I is held on the Thursday before classes start. Dates for upcoming workshops can be found by entering “GTA Workshop” into the search engine on the Graduate School website; registrants will be informed of any necessary changes in Phase I date by e-mail, so do register and do pay attention to your e-mail. 

Q: What is Phase II?

A: It consists of a required Ethics session plus two others chosen from a menu, in addition to the online Canvas and Computer Security trainings. For fall 2022 we anticipate that all sessions will be delivered in person, with a Zoom option available for those who are unable to attend in person. In addition, most sessions will be recorded and the recordings will be available for asynchronous viewing from the course Canvas site. If you complete a session by viewing a recording, you will need to successfully complete a short quiz on that session to get credit for it (no quiz required for synchronous attendees, whether in person or online). 

Q: How do I register for Phase II sessions?

A: Once you are enrolled in the course, you will get access to the course Canvas site; you can pre-register for in-person sessions there, by a process that is well-explained in the main page. Session scheduling for Phase II will be available within 1-2 weeks after Phase I (it takes a little time to schedule and coordinate the multiple instructors). Phase II sessions are offered over Zoom as well; instructions for Zoom participation will be shared on the Canvas site.

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 on the course Canvas site. You will submit your assignment in the “Assignments” tab on Canvas (not as an attachment to the instructor or GTA!) any time during the semester up until the assignment deadline, which will also be communicated via Canvas.

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 as you would any other 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 for all Virginia Tech GTAs.

Q: My department is holding its orientation on the same day of the workshop. What should I do?
A: Since GTA workshop is always held the Tuesday before fall classes start and the Thursday before spring classes start, and the requirement is known to all departments and programs, this sort of scheduling conflict should never 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. 

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. It takes up to two weeks to update your attendance grade on Canvas. If your attendance is not updated after two weeks, reach out to the course GTAs. 

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

A: No, the first component is mandatory, however you choose one of the other two components. Thus, you will complete 2 components of this training module for it to be considered complete. 

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

A: The minimum passing score is 80 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: The point values of each assignment are communicated on Canvas. You will be expected to attend each entire session and participate fully. You will get full points for each session attendance or completion. If you do not attend, you get 0 (zero) points. 

  • If you do not complete Phase I, you are required to drop the course or you will end up earning an F (FAIL) grade. If you retake the course in another semester and earn a passing grade (P), your previous 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 in another semester and earn a passing grade (P), your previous 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. We recommend that you record each session you completed, and the date on which you completed it; keep that record until the course is complete.

Q: What if I only need to take one Phase II session to resolve an incomplete in the following semester? Should I register for GRAD 5004 again?

A: If you have only one session to attend to resolve a past incomplete, DO NOT register for the course again. You should contact the GTA in charge in the following semester via e-mail to be added to the course Canvas site for that semester, so that you can complete the one missing element and resolve the incomplete. Once you have completed that element, you should then inform the GTA that you have done so; the instructor will arrange to resolve the incomplete.