1 Teaching at McMaster University

McMaster is a diverse and lively University with over 33,000 students and 1,500 full-time faculty across six Faculties and the Arts and Science Program. McMaster is known for educational innovations such as problem-based learning, is home to nationally recognized professors, and maintains a deep commitment to student-centered learning. Whether you are a new or returning sessional instructor, teaching-track, tenure-track, tenured professor, or have a Contractually Limited Appointment you are a part of a vibrant and dedicated community where learning deeply matters. As an instructor at McMaster, you have access to a wide variety of resources for teaching include Avenue to Learn, Microsoft Office 365, the libraries and MOSAIC for managing your details as an employee as well as course information. We discuss these resources and others in this handbook which is intended to be a quick reference for many aspects of teaching at McMaster. We hope you find this guide a useful starting place as you participate in our campus teaching and learning communities.

The MacPherson Institute

The MacPherson Institute is McMaster’s teaching & learning support centre as well as a research institute focused on teaching & learning research. We offer workshop series and events on teaching for faculty members, sessional instructors, staff, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows that give members of the teaching community opportunities to develop and enhance their skills. Whether these skills are for teaching in traditional settings, or involve teaching online or blended courses and utilizing novel teaching technologies, we welcome anyone with any level of experience from any corner of our campuses. The MI also offers research grants and supports for those interested in researching their teaching. To find out more about us, see our About Us page on our website.

McMaster Libraries

At McMaster, there are four libraries each with a focus on the needs of specific Faculties for their collections and resources: Mills Library (Social Sciences and Humanities), H.G. Thode Library of Science and Engineering, Innis Library (Business) and the Health Sciences Library. Besides their vast collections, the Libraries are available to support teaching and learning including instructional and research support,  accessibility services, course reserves and Learning Support’s sessions and workshops on research skills and tools. There are also many spaces that students can use for course work and projects including the Thode Makerspace, Lyons New Media Centre and several others. For more information on the resources and supports available, please visit the Library website.

Sessional Instructors, CUPE 3906 Unit 2

Sessional instructors form Unit 2 of CUPE 3906 (the union which also represents Teaching Assistants as Unit 1 and Postdoctoral Fellows as Unit 3). All of the regulations regarding working as a sessional instructor can be found in the Collective Agreement on the CUPE 3906 web site. The MacPherson Institute is here to support your teaching however we can. More information about your entitlements to training can be found in Article 19 of the Collective Agreement. If you would like to talk about teaching, don’t hesitate to contact us and we can meet in-person or virtually. If, however, you have any questions regarding your pay, benefits, the nature of your work (contract), seniority, etc. those should be directed to your union representatives.

McMaster Grading Scale

McMaster uses a 12 point grading scale with 12 equivalent to A+ and 0 equivalent to an F. You may hear students speak about their performance on this scale even though, generally speaking, most instructors use a traditional letter or percentage grading system for their courses. For more information on the McMaster Grading scale, see the Office of the Registrar’s page on the GPA.


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The New Instructor Handbook by The MacPherson Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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