UBC Department of Physics and Astronomy
Teaching Assistant Professional Development Program

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TA Handbook

The TA handbook contains a wealth of information that is highly relevant to any TAs in the Physics and Astronomy department. It was created and is maintained by the coordinators of the PHAS TAPD program. Topics covered include:

  • Important contacts, resources and dates
  • Union and pay information
  • TA duties (teaching laboratories and tutorials, grading, office hours, professionalism)
  • Interactive Engagement
  • Lesson Plans
  • Solving Physics Problems
  • Formative Evaluation
  • Classroom Problems and Resolution
  • First Day Checklist

The 2014 PHAS TA Handbook is available here.
General Information for PHAS TAs

The Physics and Astronomy Department webpage contains some essential details about the department's TA positions, including workload information and important dates.

The campus TA union (CUPE 2278) website is a useful resource with regards to pay rates, your health rebate and other useful facts relating to your rights and responsibilities as a UBC TA.
The Physics Education Research Resource Library

Over the last 25 years, a growing number of physicists, educators, and psychologists have been studying just how it is that students learn physics. Research in physics education is an interdisciplinary blend of physics, psychology, and cognitive science. The main focus of Physics Education Research is to apply the tools of science to investigate what happens in our classrooms. Some of the major questions addressed by Physics Education Research (PER) are:

  • What previous conceptions do students have about the physical world, and how are these affected by various type of instruction?
  • What problem-solving strategies do students use, and how can these be improved?
  • What beliefs about physics do students have, and how do those beliefs affect their performance?
  • How can we improve the quality of physics education?


Researchers have made significant progress in finding ways of analyzing and improving physics education. Many results from PER have been incorporated into this workshop and its accompanying materials.


Our department has developed a Physics Education Research Resource Library (PERRL) and online companion of PER papers accessible by visiting here.


An excellent paper in physics education that may be of particular use as a resource for graduate teaching assistants, can be found at arXiv.org/0808.3636.

Other useful teaching and learning resources