Attending a class in a Canadian university is an amazing experience. For a student entering this system for the first time, it may be overwhelming! Here are some tips to help you out.
System of Teaching and Learning
You may have heard that universities in Canada focus on application-based learning rather than theory-based learning. This means that professors teach concepts using a mix of case studies, field research, and real-life applications rather than just using the textbook for information. With application-based learning, students will likely have a more rounded and wholesome understanding of the topic taught. Professors use an online portal, which has all lecture notes, homework, and practice questions and answers. Students have access to lecture notes in advance, as well as answers to past assignments and quizzes, and ways to contact the professors and teaching assistants. Online portals are an efficient tool for professors and students. Online submissions are automated, all the course information is kept in one place for easier organization, and much less paper is used!
Addressing the Professors
In Canada, students do not usually address professors and staff using “sir” and “madam” as they would in India. Instead, professors and staff have preferred names which they would communicate to you on the first day of class. Some professors like to be addressed as “Dr. –Last name-”; others would be fine with just their first name.
Assignments and project work
Depending on which course you are taking as well as your professor’s teaching style, assignments can range from essays to practice questions to field research to lab reports. Each assignment counts towards your final grade, and the weight of these assignments will be communicated to you during the first week of class.
Many courses also focus on group assignments in which students in groups of various sizes are required to complete a project such as a research paper or presentation. Group work may sound intimidating, and it’s definitely not a walk in the park coordinating meeting times, but it is an opportunity for you to get to know more students in your particular field and build connections that way.
Teaching and research assistantship
As a graduate student, you can take up a teaching assistant or research assistant job within your department. The policies and application process may differ in each school and within each field, so check with your academic advisor for details.
In a Teaching Assistantship, students spend about 12 hours a week in preparation, lecturing or laboratory instruction for a particular course.
Research assistantships may be a part of a graduate student’s degree requirements. The work activities, responsibilities, and stipend rely considerably on the department and particular project that the student is undertaking.