New to teaching at McMaster? Welcome! To help you get started in your new role, we’ve developed the New Instructor Handbook with information on the university, your role, and teaching and learning at McMaster.
Welcome, McMaster University sessional faculty!
Embarking on a new teaching role as a sessional instructor at the University entails acquiring a wealth of information, sometimes with little time remaining before the start of the term and few course materials sent your way for the course in which you have been hired to teach.
This page is intended to provide you with valuable information about the McMaster teaching and learning context (e.g., teaching culture, policy information, resources, and supports/services), information that will serve you well as you prepare for and facilitate an exceptional student learning experience in your role as a McMaster sessional faculty member.
As the pioneer of problem-based learning (PBL, a unique, hands-on approach to learning that originated in our medical school in 1969 and has been adopted around the world), McMaster has long since been a leader in offering innovative approaches to teaching.
At present, four areas of impact are the foci of the institution’s teaching and learning objectives:
- partnered and interdisciplinary learning,
- inclusive and scholarly teaching,
- active and flexible learning spaces, and
- holistic and personalized student experience.
You can read all about these in McMaster’s Teaching and Learning Strategy. For a more in depth understanding of the McMaster teaching and learning context, consider reviewing the information and resources (e.g., Digital Learning Strategic Framework) provided on the Teaching & Learning tab on McMaster’s Academic Excellence website.
As a sessional instructor at McMaster, you are a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Local 3906, Unit 2. This Union represents all employees of McMaster University employed in Ontario as Sessional faculty, MELD faculty, and Sessional Music faculty having full or joint full responsibility for the teaching of one or more University degree credit courses.
In additional to the resources available to all New Employees to McMaster (including New Employee Orientation), the Human Resource Services website hosts sessional specific supports available via the Human Resource Services Sessional Faculty Orientation page.
While the website does include a lot of logistical information like how to log into McMaster’s administrative information system (Mosaic), how to sign up for Health and Safety Training, how to find your classroom, and sessional date and timelines, the website is also a gold mine for teaching-related how-tos. The Teaching and Learning Pathway below has been curated to help get you started.
Teaching and Learning Pathway
- Dates and deadlines for undergraduate and graduate studies;
- How to adopt course materials;
- How to access and use McMaster’s primary Learning Management System (Avenue to Learn);
- McMaster’s General academic regulations (don’t forget to also check out McMaster’s Undergraduate Course Management Policy and Graduate Course Management Policy!);
- The McMaster Student Absence Form;
- How to ensure your classroom is accessible to students;
- How to report a complaint of academic dishonesty; and
- How to access the Sessional Faculty and Hourly-Rated Sessional Music Faculty Notes document.
As a member of CUPE, Local 3906, Unit 2, you are provided with a number of benefits under your Collective Agreement, including a Health Care Spending Account, Dental Insurance, and access to a Professional Development Fund.
Importantly, you also have access to paid teaching and learning training through the Training Fund for Sessional Faculty.
Training Fund for Sessional Faculty. – $100 per member for each completed training, to a maximum of $300 per member, per year.
The fund provides limited, one-time payments for members who complete select training through the Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching (i.e., the MacPherson Institute) between September 1 and August 31 each academic year.
Payment is capped at $100 per member for each completed training, to a maximum of $300 per member, per year. The payment is open to current members of CUPE Local 3906, Unit 2 (Sessional faculty, MELD faculty, and Hourly-Rated Sessional Music faculty), who complete (or have completed) training associated with any of the following programs:
|Sessional Faculty Orientation||In this online synchronous workshop, you will learn about the McMaster teaching context and effective teaching practices, and connect with other McMaster sessional faculty (~1.5 hours)|
|The Learning to Teach Online Course||In this self-enroll, self-paced Avenue to Learn course, you will learn the foundational pieces/steps in creating an engaging online learning experience. As you move through the elements, you will also be able to build (and get feedback on) your own online course, using an online course planning guide and weekly content, activity, and assessment worksheets. (~15 hours)|
|The Instructional Skills Workshop||In this intensive workshop, you will learn about the BOPPPS model of lesson planning (including intended learning outcomes, active learning, and assessment) before designing and delivering three 10-minute lessons in a small group setting (4-5 peers). In addition to peer feedback, you will receive a video recording of each of your lessons for later viewing. (~24 hours)|
|The Course (re)Design Workshop||In this intensive workshop, you will work on designing or redesigning a course. The workshop includes facilitated sessions on course design topics (e.g., constructive alignment, intended learning outcomes, teaching and learning activities, assessment, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL)) and includes dedicated time for independent reflection/work, peer feedback, and consultation. (~15 hours)|
|The Assessment Development Workshop||This intensive workshop provides you with the opportunity to focus on the enhancement of a new or existing assessment in your course(s). Through peer feedback and guided work time, informed by facilitated sessions on relevant topics, this workshop will help you implement meaningful assessments that support student learning. (~15 hours)|
|Any of the EDUCATN courses from the Teaching & Learning Certificates of Completion Program||There are six zero-unit graduate level courses available that range in length (~12-36 hours) and format. For course descriptions and schedules, please visit the Teaching and Learning Certificates of Completion Program website. The courses include:
|Professor Hippo-on-Campus||In this online asynchronous mental health education program, you will learn about common sources of stress and distress, how to recognize warning signs of stress and difficulty, how to communicate with students in distress or difficulty, and how to create a mental health positive learning environment. (~3 hours)|
We encourage you to take advantage of this paid training opportunity so you can enhance your teaching and play a pivotal role in ensuring that McMaster students have a high-quality learning experience.
Teaching and Learning Supports and Services
- Teaching Refinement – With this service, the MacPherson Institute will help you collect feedback from your students mid-way through your course. Following a consultation to identify areas of focus, a MacPherson Institute staff member will facilitate a full-class discussion during a class visit. Thereafter, they will consult with you a second time to discuss the key themes that emerged and support you in identifying next steps to enhance your teaching and the course. To apply for a refinement, please request one via the MacPherson Institute Request Form.
- Teaching Observation – With this service, you will receive feedback on your teaching from a staff member at the MacPherson Institute. Following a consultation to identify areas of focus (e.g., you might be interested in feedback on your engagement strategies, presentation style, content organization, or integration of educational technologies), a MacPherson Institute staff member will observe one of your classes of your choosing. Thereafter, they will consult with you a second time to discuss their observations and support you in identifying next steps to enhance your teaching and the course. To request an observation, please use the MacPherson Institute Request Form.
- Teaching and Learning Consultations – The MacPherson Institute offers one-on-one and teaching team consultations on a range of topics. To request a consultation, please use the MacPherson Institute Request Form.
Teaching and Learning Resources
- The New Instructor Handbook includes information on the university, your role, and teaching and learning at McMaster. Topics include:
- McMaster’s course policies
- Institutionally supported teaching technologies
- Considerations for university teaching
- Accessibility and accommodations
- Working with a teaching team
- The Teaching Development Planning Tool has been designed to assist new faculty members in planning relevant and appropriate teaching development opportunities over four years of their teaching practice
- The Learning Catalogue is a comprehensive repository of educational resources to enhance your teaching practice
- A list of valuable resources available from other McMaster support units can be found on the Teaching and Learning Resources tab of this website.
MacPherson Institute Faculty Liaison Contacts
Each Faculty has a designated MacPherson Institute Educational Developer who serves as a Faculty Liaison Contact. You can contact your Faculty’s Contact for things like:
- Guidance or feedback on teaching portfolio development, including teaching philosophy statement and evidence of teaching effectiveness.
- Consultation and resources on specific teaching methods and course design
- Department- or Faculty-specific professional development in teaching training
Faculty and Department Supports
Beyond supports from the MacPherson Institute, there may also be supports available in your Department or Faculty – reach out to your Department Chair to find out. You may even be invited to attend a Faculty- or Department-specific New Sessional or New Faculty Orientation.
Once again, congratulations on becoming a sessional faculty member at McMaster University and thank you for all that you do to offer an exceptional McMaster student learning experience!
Date: Thursday August 17, 2023
Time: 12:30 – 1:30 PM EST
Location: LR Wilson Hall Lobby
- Campus Classroom Technologies
- CUPE 3906
- Equity and Inclusion Office
- Faculty Development (FHS)
- INSPIRE Office of Flexible Learning
- MacPherson Institute
- McMaster Continuing Education
- McMaster Libraries: Access Services and Content, Access, and Open Licensing
- McMaster Libraries: Archives and Research Collections
- McMaster Libraries: Teaching and Learning & LinkedIn Learning
- McMaster Libraries: Sherman Centre, Digital Resource Commons Pilot & Research Data Management
- McMaster Libraries: Health Sciences Library
- Office of Community Engagement
- McMaster Okanagan Office of Health & Wellbeing
- McMaster Research Ethics Board
- School of Graduate Studies
- Student Accessibility Services
- Student Success Centre: Writing and Academic Skills
- Workplace Health & Well-being
- University Technology Services
New Faculty Orientation
Date: Thursday August 17, 2023
Time: 9:00 am – 1:30 PM EST
Location: LR Wilson 1056
New Faculty Orientation is a half-day event that offers an opportunity to connect with senior administration on campus to hear of the wider university goals regarding teaching, a venue to connect with experienced faculty, and a space to reflect on your teaching experiences during your first few weeks on campus.
Attendees will also have the opportunity to connect with various partners on campus and familiarize themselves with the available teaching-related resources, departments and facilities during the Resource Fair.
This year’s event will be Thursday, August 17, 2023. Find all of the registration details on our event page.
2023 Sessional Faculty Orientation
Date: Tuesday, August 29, 2023
Time: 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM EST
New this year, the Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching (the MacPherson Institute) is offering a 1.5-hour online synchronous Sessional Faculty Orientation.
At the orientation, sessional faculty will learn about the McMaster teaching context and effective teaching practices, and connect with other McMaster sessional faculty.
Training Fund for Sessional Faculty
This orientation is one of several teaching development opportunities for which current members of CUPE, Local 3906, Unit 2 (Sessional Faculty, MELD Faculty, and Hourly-Rated Sessional Music Faculty) may be compensated via the Training Fund for Sessional Faculty.
The Training Fund for Sessional Faculty provides limited, one-time payments for members who complete select training through the MacPherson Institute September 1st and August 31st of each academic year. Payment is capped at $100 per member for each completed training, to a maximum of $300 (i.e., to a max of 3 completed training opportunities) per member, per year. Please see the Training Fund website for more information regarding eligibility, the submission procedure, and the submission deadline.
Resources to Expand your Teaching and Learning Knowledge
Each Faculty has a designated key contact from the MacPherson Institute. You can contact these Educational Developers for:
- guidance or feedback on teaching portfolio development, including teaching philosophy statement and evidence of teaching effectiveness
- consultation and resources on specific teaching methods and course design
- opportunities for classroom observation (being visited by us or visiting an experienced teacher’s class) and instructional skills training
- evaluating and improving course design/delivery through the MacPherson Institute’s course refinement service (many of our leading teachers have taken advantage of this service)
We also offer a number of programs, including intensive workshops and the Teaching and Learning Certificates of Completion Program, which provide a strong foundation in different pedagogical approaches, as well as the opportunity to practice your instructional skills and access supportive networks.
Within the MacPherson Institute accordion, add the following text below the existing text:
You can use the Teaching Development Planning Tool to help you plan relevant and appropriate teaching development opportunities over the first four years of their teaching practice. Educational developers are also available to help with articulating your teaching goals and identifying appropriate teaching and learning activities.
McMaster Continuing Education has partnered with Ed2Go to provide professional development activities for instructors! Take a look at their course offerings here, which include “Creating the Inclusive Classroom” and “Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities.”
As well, McMaster Continuing Education has a partnership with You Got Class, which offers three courses to help instructors develop online courses: Designing Online Instruction, Advanced Teaching Online, and Fostering Online Discussion.
UTS is the central IT services unit at McMaster. They provide support for several IT tools and services that are essential for all campus community members, including MacID, email, and productivity tools. In addition: they offer many new services that have been rapidly introduced to help instructors teach and engage students in the remote learning environment.
The Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship supports a wide range of research and teaching activities across campus. Sherman Centre staff and affiliates consult with researchers on projects and grant applications, at any stage of development, by helping expand methodologies to include digital approaches.
The Centre offers curriculum development by collaborating with instructors to integrate digital tools and methods into undergraduate and graduate classrooms. And their annual Do More With Digital Scholarship workshop series (open to students, researchers, and instructors) provides introductory training on a variety of digital tools in an interactive, hands-on learning environment.
Contact email@example.com to inquire further or to book a consultation session.
Resources to Improve the Student Experience
The McMaster Equity and Inclusion Office has a wealth of programming and resources available on their website linked here. These resources provide more information on how to ensure educational experiences are equitable and inclusive. In addition, the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office’s website is a great resource for instructors looking for prevention education and response training.
Education needs to be accessible to all students, but many instructors voice concerns about how to make sure content is accessible. The Accessibility Hub’s Training page here contains a wealth of resources on this subject, including Accessible Education Training for Instructional Staff, available here.
Free for McMaster employees, Mental Health First Aid Training is a great way to ensure you are well prepared to support students’ whole persons. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a two-day interactive course with a focus on adults with mental health problems. Practical skills are taught using a model that is easy to apply in real life settings. Previous experience dealing with mental health issues is not required.
Professor Hippo-on-Campus was created by a team at McMaster to support instructors interacting with students in varying conditions of mental health. As demand for student mental health support and services is increasing, it is important that instructors feel prepared and are comfortable addressing student needs in ways that are consistent with and appropriate to their roles. The Professor Hippo-on-Campus program has been designed and tested to help accomplish this goal in an accessible and engaging format.
The Student Support and Case Management Office (SSCM) provides support to students throughout their time at university, providing resources to manage issues as well as crisis prevention and intervention for students who may be having trouble on campus. The SSCM has two primary areas of focus: administering the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities (the Code), and providing support to students through Case Management services. The SSCM is available for consultation and can assist if you are concerned about a student’s behaviour within the learning environment (in-person or online) and/or are concerned about a student who may be experiencing multiple barriers and/or challenges.
Resources to Share with your Students
New faculty members face a balancing act in their new jobs and enter our programming with a variety of learning needs. To help navigate this situation, we can help new faculty map out relevant teaching development opportunities for themselves over the first five years of their teaching practice.
Prior to the consultation, faculty will be asked to reflect on their teaching values and beliefs, identify immediate and longer-term teaching development goals, and describe prior knowledge about teaching and learning in higher education
In the consultation, the faculty member will work with an educational developer to develop a suggested timetable for the achievement of both short- and longer-term teaching goals.
To request a Teaching Development Plan consult, get in touch with your Faculty’s key contact.