Complex Ideas

Create effective and engaging presentations that communicate the importance of your research within your field and to funding bodies, policy makers, or the public. The following resources are designed to help you strengthen your ability to communicate complex ideas, explain your work and describe your skills effectively in all environments, including to expert and non-expert audiences.

  • Teaching Assistant Training Program

    The Teaching Assistant Training Program is a hands-on, two-and-a-half- day session taught by current Teaching Assistants (TAs) and designed for new TAs embarking on their teaching careers. Learn about fair grading practices, diversity in the classroom, lecturing, and giving students feedback on written work. Choose from concurrent sessions designed to meet your specific discipline-related teaching needs such as vocal health for lecturers or using small group discussion methods in the classroom for tutorial leaders. Get real-time, hands-on teaching experience in our unique micro-teaching sessions, where you can try out your teaching skills and techniques with a small group of your peers and receive helpful, constructive feedback. At the end of the session, you’ll receive a certificate as evidence of your commitment to the development of your knowledge and skill as a teacher.

  • Getting Published

    This seminar begins by unpacking the peer review process. We’ll address how to write to your target publication, how to incorporate citations in a manuscript, the “so what?” question, and the merits of writing for audiences beyond your discipline.

  • SGPS 9105: Collaborate for Community Impact

    The Collaborate for Community Impact course is designed to provide graduate students with the foundational knowledge to effectively collaborate with peers and community agencies to address community identified needs. Seminar topics will include foundations of community engagement, examining social inequalities and power relations, knowledge translation and mobilization, and principles of effective partnership among others. This course will also give graduate students the opportunity to experience Community Engaged Learning as a teaching pedagogy and reflect on how they can incorporate it within their professional careers. Specifically, students will be challenged to work collaboratively with an interdisciplinary team and a community partner to complete a community-based project.

  • Making the Most of the Writing Process

    Graduate students must adapt to the expectations of multiple audiences such as supervisors, committee members, publishers, grant review committees, and conference organizers. In this seminar we’ll address how to integrate writing as a practice that accompanies the ongoing development of your intellectual identity, and learn strategies such as diagramming and storyboarding to better communicate your ideas. 

  • Punctuation

    This session details the functions of different punctuation marks in academic writing, including the colon and semicolon, the apostrophe, and a special emphasis on the varied uses of commas. The session also provides guidelines on how to incorporate references to numbers in written form.

  • Refining Your Grammar Skills

    This session addresses the more prominent differences between the casual tone and syntax of spoken English and the conventions of formal academic writing. Topics covered include the role and placement of modifying words and phrases in writing, the distinction between “the” and “a/an”, as well as the correct usage of the word “which”.

  • The Language of Advanced Discussions

    Much of the discussion that takes place in classrooms, during meetings with supervisors, and in social interactions involves being able to justify why you think what you think. Articulating your opinion successfully requires a familiarity with patterns of reasoning and persuasion in English. In this program, you will learn the language for debating, managing a class discussion, and articulating your opinion. Participants will have an opportunity to apply what they have learned by facilitating a 15-minute discussion on a topic of their choice

  • Summarizing Your Research into an Abstract

    They’re short. We all have to write them. In this seminar we’ll examine what it takes to represent your research, manuscript, thesis, dissertation, or conference paper, and your academic identity, in just a few hundred words.

  • Writing Clearly and Concisely

    "I'm not sure what you're trying to say." No one wants to find those comments on a chapter submission, so let us help you learn practical strategies essential to being better understood.  A must if you're a student who enjoys securing funds, getting published, or finishing grad school.

  • Writing Effective Research Proposals

    A research proposal can determine your path through graduate studies, your potential funding, and your academic and professional future. In this seminar we’ll look at the components that make up successful research proposals.

  • The Language of Difficult Conversations

    This 8-hour program introduces international graduate students to the interpersonal and linguistic skills required to engage in difficult discussions. Participants will explore cultural differences in conflict resolution and practice strategies to engage in difficult conversations in ways that achieve positive outcomes and enhance relationships.

  • Writing Your Literature Review

    Together, these two seemingly harmless words terrify many graduate students. In this seminar, we'll demystify lit reviews by discussing the why(s) and how to(s) and make them far less scary.    

  • Writing Your Thesis or Dissertation

    In this seminar we’ll learn how to set writing goals, find out where to find resources to demystify the process, and gain insights into the expectations of supervisors and committees.  This seminar also addresses how to be active (instead of reactive) and take ownership of your work. 

  • The Language of Academic Job Interviews

    This 6-hour workshop is designed to help international graduate students and new residents prepare for teaching and research-focused job interviews in North America. The workshop highlights cultural differences in the recruitment and interview process and introduces specific strategies to respond to common interview questions. Participants will have an opportunity to practice responding to interview questions during their mock-interview and will receive feedback from peers and the instructor.

  • The Language of Conference/Research Presentations

    In this 6-hour program, participants learn to communicate their research and its implications to diverse audiences both in academia and industry. Participants have an opportunity to practice techniques, to organize presentations, respond to questions from peers during Q&A sessions, and emphasize the key contributions of their research.

  • Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: Assessment Strategies

    This online module addresses how to create effective assessments that help students grasp meaningful and complex ideas, challenge them, and help them learn important concepts and skills.

  • Communicating Your Research

    Good communication skills are essential to a successful research career. This short online workshop highlights the importance of communicating well and focuses on three common communication opportunities that researchers face on a regular basis: presentation skills, writing skills, and poster creation.

  • Teaching in the Canadian Classroom

    Teaching in the Canadian Classroom is a 16-hour short course designed for international graduate students who would like to explore cultural differences in the classroom and gain confidence as a teaching assistant in the Canadian academic setting. We will discuss common teaching topics, such as lesson planning, active learning, feedback, and classroom management, through a cross-cultural lens. Participants will gain hands-on experience by practicing instructional techniques in microteaching sessions where they receive constructive feedback from peers and the instructor.

  • Communication in the Canadian Classroom

    Communication in the Canadian Classroom is a 12-hour short course designed for international graduate students who would like to develop their English language skills for teaching. Workshop activities include discussions of cultural differences in the classroom, role plays involving giving feedback to students, and opportunities to practice expressing ideas concisely. Participants will develop their English communication skills in a supportive atmosphere among graduate students from a variety of disciplines and cultures.

  • Future Prof Series

    These interactive seminars for future professors and professionals provide valuable insight into teaching and career-strategies across the disciplines. The workshops in this series are constantly evolving to meet the current interests of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.

  • SGPS 9500: The Theory and Practice of University Teaching

    SGPS 9500 is a graduate level credit course on teaching and learning in higher education. The goals of the course are to deepen your understanding of foundational theory and research relevant to university teaching, and to provide an opportunity for engaging in course design and facilitating student engagement. The course begins by exploring how to devise and align learning outcomes, assessments, and active learning activities. Then, over the semester, students have the chance to develop and revise a teaching philosophy statement, receive feedback on short teaching presentations, and create a comprehensive course syllabus. In small groups, students will also develop a webpage and seminar presentation on a pedagogical topic of their choice. SGPS 9500 is an interdisciplinary course, meaning that students will engage deeply with educational theory and practice alongside instructors and peers from across academic disciplines.

  • Teaching Mentor Program

    The Teaching Mentor Program is a unique opportunity for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to receive feedback on their teaching and classroom management approaches from peers in their own teaching environment. Four to five participants will work together and visit each other’s classes, tutorials or labs* over the course of the semester.

  • Advanced Teaching Program

    The Advanced Teaching Program (ATP) is a 20-hour short course designed for advanced graduate students who would like to develop practical teaching skills for current and future teaching roles. Topics include course design strategies, active learning, authentic assessment of student learning, and maintaining a culture of respect and community in the classroom. Participants gain hands-on experience by practicing instructional techniques in microteaching sessions where they receive constructive feedback from peers and an experienced team of instructors. Participants also design a workshop on teaching in their discipline. Graduates of the program have the opportunity to submit their capstone projects for publication in the Teaching Innovation Projects Journal.

  • TA Day: Graduate Student Conference on Teaching

    This one-day conference introduces graduate students to teaching at Western and helps prepare them for their roles as Teaching Assistants. Conference highlights include a keynote presentation by an award-winning faculty member and a panel of experienced Teaching Assistants from across the disciplines. Participants choose from a variety concurrent workshops that focus on different teaching topics including: facilitating discussions, managing difficult situations, communication strategies, and more. Graduate students also have the opportunity to hear from key campus partners including Western Libraries, the Writing Support Centre, Learning Skills Services, the Wellness Education Centre, the TA Union (PSAC Local 610), and the Society of Graduate Students.

  • Writing Strategic Business Reports

    In this online module, learn how to write clear and strategic business reports that achieve their intended purpose.

  • Editing and Proofreading

    This session examines the different stages of the writing process with a specific focus on the revision stage. Strategies for identifying structural or mechanical problems in the writing are presented along with advice on such concerns as enhancing the flow of ideas in a document and avoiding the use of stilted or imprecise language.