Teaching as Research Internship

As researcher, you have many skills that are transferable between disciplinary 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.

TAR internships are designed to give interns authentic teaching experiences and to apply their understanding of evidence-based teaching practices in the classroom or in an informal science education or outreach setting. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, together with their teaching partner, identify a challenge to student learning in the classroom, develop new teaching resources or approaches, and test if this new approach did improve student learning.

Interested students can devise their own TAR projects, or can create TAR projects 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). Eligible teaching partners are UBC faculty or instructors, local college instructor, or outreach partners.

All UBC graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are eligible according to the program requirements outlined below can apply for a TAR project. Applicants whose application are accepted will be able to conduct their project as TAR Interns.

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

Changes to course curriculum or implementation of technology/AV materials do not usually qualify as TAR projects. For clarification, please contact cirtl.info@ubc.ca.

Through the program, interns are paired with a faculty or instructional staff partner to address a challenge, in order to improve student learning in an undergraduate classroom. The word partner, instead of mentor, reflects the notion that both the intern and faculty/instructional staff member 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.  If you are new to educational research, this resource from Queen’s University is a great starting point with a good overview of different methodologies.

The key idea is that the intern identifies a challenge to student learning in the classroom, designs and implements a solution to the challenge, and analyzes the learning that occurs as a result of the solution. Interns also attend a pre-TAR seminar, providing a community of peers to share resources and provide feedback. Throughout the TAR project, interns can create materials for their teaching and learning portfolio. On average, interns planning to become CIRTL Scholars 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. Smaller TAR projects that lead to CIRTL Practitioner typically require less time commitment.

To honor the intern’s time, the program encourages interested students to overlap the TAR project with their other teaching responsibilities, for example their Teaching Assistant (TA). TAR internships are not funded through CIRTL. However, the TAR internship is different than a TA-ship, because TAR 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, prospective TAR interns can apply for the competitive CIRTL UBC TAR graduate stipend award (GSA). Note: acceptance to become a TAR intern does not automatically grant a TAR GSA.

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 CIRTL@UBC or CIRTL-Central.
  4. Participation in an internship with the faculty or instructional partner(s). TAR Interns 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.


“I’ve had a great experience working with my PI on the TAR project so far! TAR has enabled me to approach the course from a completely different angle. I’m enjoying the opportunity to incorporate my some of my personal work experience as well as the skills I gained from FoP1 into the TAR project. I have and will continue to let others know about the TAR and FoP1 programs as excellent growth opportunities to explore teaching as a future career path.” – CIRTL@UBC TAR Intern

“This TAR project is giving me unique and valuable insights into the complexities and potential of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, and considerable opportunities that I might not otherwise have had, and certainly not been able to consider, without the TAR Internship and TAR GSA funding. This is a rare and precious opportunity as a graduate student which allows me to connect with and learn from faculty as peers in a common quest: the advancement of education.” – CIRTL@UBC TAR Intern


Learn the basics behind CIRTL’s TAR concept in this 5-minute video:
What Is Teaching-as-Research? Bennett Goldberg Explains

Hear graduate students and postdoctoral fellows reflect on how doing a TAR project helped them in this 10-minute video:
What Is Teaching-as-Research? TAR Students Reflect

Listen a full panel discussion of TAR alumni reflect on their TAR experience with focus on how TAR impacted their careers. Panelist addressed questions on the value of TAR, how TAR impacted their career plans and how they leveraged TAR when applying for jobs:
How Does Teaching-as-Research Impact Your Career?


If you are interested in becoming a TAR Intern and meet the program requirements, please email us at cirtl.info@ubc.ca. We will reopen the application form after the CIRTL UBC TAR GSA deadline. TAR internships are not funded through CIRTL, see above for possible funding opportunities. If you want to apply for our CIRTL UBC TAR GSA, please do not fill out the form below, all application documents are on this page.