Teaching postdocs-2

Fri Jan 5 13:39:47 EST 1996

At the time I was a doctoral student at UWis, Madison, all PhD students in 
botany were required to have at least one semester of teaching experience. One 
of my peers was on a research assistantship for the duration of her doctoral 
studies, but she was still required to teach a lab in Intro Botany. Thus while 
she was supported as an RA, she did TA duties for the semester.

Madison has paid considerably more attention to undergraduate instruction 
over the near past. They provide (I beleive) a required course in teaching -- 
not from the education department, but (again I believe) from a group of 
diciplinary professionals dedicated to undergraduate teaching. There is also 
now a spoken English requirement at Madison, due to complaints in the past by 
students having problems understanding their recently arrive foreign TAs.

At my former institution (a comprehensive four year offering a MS in Biology, 
among other disciplines), I taught a graduate course required of all students, 
on teaching biology. I used the book created at Madison, although much of the 
book seemed kind of hokey (the perils of having sex with your students, etc.). 
In my course we talked about the goals of teaching, methodology and 
assessment, lecture/quiz construction, lab practical construction, etc. It was 
a graded course (I recall one grad student who never forgave me for assigning 
him a B and another who threatened lawsuit because the B she got might keep 
her out of med school). I also observed these teaching students in the 
classroom (they each taught one or more labs of our large intro biology 
course, and I taught lab sections as well), looking for recognized sound 
teaching behaviors more than the correct information being provided. We 
watched a *really* hokey video once showing a TA sitting with his feet up on 
the desk reading a newspaper, obviously not wanting to be bothered by 
students. (Unfortunately, I had one faculty colleague that could have profited 
by seeing that video!)

I did not see any other posted responses concerning "teaching post docs." I'd 
like to see what those responses were, if they can be shared. This one may be, 
if useful.

Jim Perry
UW Fox Valley

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