Developing Capacity

The TI RA Program is committed to providing RAs and TI staff evidence-based resources to identify and strengthen the knowledge, skills, and abilities that RAs bring to, and gain from, their role(s). We believe this commitment to continuous improvement promotes community and communication across TI teams and projects, and fosters RA professionalism, learning, and success across workplace and academic contexts.

    Knowledge refers to an RA’s theoretical and practical understanding of theories, facts, methods, procedures, and the ability to apply information to different situations critically and creatively (Co-operative Education Program and Career Services: 2011). Both academic and workplace knowledge can be developed through coursework, workshops, research, conferences, training, and experience.

  1. Academic knowledge: Discipline or topic-specific scholarship or proficiency relevant to your project (e.g., a working understanding of educational technology, how libraries work, curriculum development and review, or the fundamentals of scholarship of teaching and learning [SoTL]).
  2. Workplace knowledge: Professional experience, or field/job-specific training and certification relevant to your project (e.g., a working understanding of education contexts, learning communities, technology, and educational processes).

    Skills and abilities refer to an RA’s capacity to choose and perform the appropriate techniques, methods, and strategies for a given task (Co-operative Education Program and Career Services: 2011). Such skills and abilities are developed through experiences that put knowledge and skills into practice, such as coursework, research projects, training, experience, assessment, and independent and team-based work (Rose, 2012: 17-18). The Canadian Association for Graduate Students (CAGS) captures four kinds of professional skills applicable to RA development (2008: 6-7):

  1. Communication skills: Collecting, synthesizing, and reporting information in a variety of situations and to a variety of audiences (e.g., oral presentations at meetings/seminars/conferences, developing web content, and writing literature reviews and proposals).
  2. Management skills: Understanding how to manage people and resources successfully in different settings (e.g., setting goals/milestones/priorities in relation to the project focus, selecting and using appropriate qualitative/quantitative methods for research or evaluation, or practicing critical reflection).
  3. Teaching and knowledge-transfer skills: Explaining concepts, selecting content, and using delivery models in various contexts and to various audiences (e.g., preparing instruction manuals, research reports, literature reviews, syntheses and summaries of research).
  4. Ethics: Making sound judgements based on an accurate grasp of basic ethical principles related to authorship, conflict of interest, intellectual property, and social, institutional, and environmental considerations (e.g., making appropriate judgment calls, maintaining confidentiality with sensitive information).


Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (2008). Professional skills development for graduate students. Accessed from:

Co-operative Education Program and Career Services. (2011). What makes up a competency? University of Victoria. Accessed from:

Korpan, C. (2011). TA professional development in Canada. Learning and Teaching Centre, University of Victoria. Accessed from:

Polziehn, R. (2011). Skills expected from graduate students in search of employment in academic and non-academic settings. Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. Accessed from:

Rose, M. (2012). Graduate Student Professional Development: A Survey with Recommendations. Accessed from: au_sujet/publications/SSHRC_Report_Graduate_Students_Professional_Skills_March_2012_eng.pdf