TAR project

As researcher, you have many skills that are transferable between research and teaching. A core value of CIRTL is recognizing that teaching and learning is a dynamic and ongoing process, which can be improved in an iterative fashion, similar to your disciplinary research. Teaching as Research projects provide graduate students and post doctoral researchers in STEM at UBC with internship opportunities to apply their understanding of evidence-based teaching practices in classrooms, by working together with a UBC or local college instructor, or an outreach partner.

TAR projects are designed to give interns authentic teaching experiences, either in the classroom or in an informal science education or outreach setting.  Interested students can devise their own TAR projects, or can be created around existing Scholarship of Teaching and Learning projects (see the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund project descriptions and faculty proposed TAR projects for existing projects).

How to get started

TAR projects can be:

  • Testing the effectiveness of an activity for student learning within an existing course or laboratory
  • Developing and testing a science outreach project or component of a project
  • Instructional material design, implementation, and testing

Through the program, interns are paired with a faculty or instructional staff partner to address a challenge, in order to improve student learning in a STEM classroom. The word partner was chosen, instead of mentor, to reflect the notion that both the intern and faculty/instructional staff member can, and will, contribute to the project. For instance, the intern will come to the project with knowledge of evidence-based teaching practices gained in CIRTL Associate training, while the partner brings disciplinary knowledge and their teaching experience to the table.

The key idea is that the intern designs and implements a solution to the challenge, and analyzes the learning that occurs as a result of the solution. Interns also attend a concurrent TAR project seminar, providing a community of peers to share resources and provide feedback, and can create materials for their teaching and learning portfolio. On average, interns can expect to spend about 3-5 hrs per week during a semester. This includes meetings with their faculty or instructional partner and attendance at the program seminar.

Time and money are issues for many, and the program encourages interested students to overlap the TAR project with their other teaching responsibilities, for example their Teaching Assistant (TA). However, the TAR project is different than a TA-ship, because interns work in partnership with a faculty or instructional mentor on a teaching and learning issue in undergraduate education, informal science education and outreach, etc. Funding for TAR projects varies among opportunities, TLEF funded projects might offer a GAA and the UBC Public Scholars Initiative offers awards. In addition, the CIRTL UBC TAR graduate stipend award (GSA) of $7,000 for the graduate student’s support is available for eligible projects. The CIRTL UBC TAR GSA support projects that feature UBC STEM disciplinary research projects in the undergraduate (or upper level high school) classroom or outreach project. The goal of these awards is to both improve student learning and to highlight UBC research in the community. Please note, the CIRTL TAR GSA is a competitive awards and is adjudicated separately from TAR project proposals. Acceptance of a TAR project does not automatically include GSA. Further information and application deadlines can be found here.

Program requirements

The requirements for a successful TAR project include:

  1. Completion of CIRTL Associate status
  2. Application and acceptance to the program, including a teaching-as-research proposal, developed in cooperation with the partner.
  3. Pre-TAR planning course through UBC CIRTL or CIRTL-Central.
  4. Participation in an internship with the faculty or instructional partner(s). Students and partners collaborate to define a teaching and learning question and devise, implement, and evaluate a solution for improving participant learning.
  5. Writing a reflective statement and a final short summative report.

TAR Awards vs. Internships

All UBC graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who have the general eligibility outlined above can apply for a TAR project in collaboration with a faculty mentor. Applicants whose application are accepted will be able to conduct their project as TAR Interns. TAR Internships are not necessarily funded and can be either self-funded or else, defined as a part of another grant (see Faculty Partner Proposed Projects or the complete list of funded TLEF projects for potential projects).

In addition, there are a limited number of TAR Graduate Awards that are granted every year to high-impact TAR proposals proposed by eligible graduate students. To know more about the eligibility, application and deadlines, please see the section on TAR Awards.