Active learning, flipped classrooms, peer discussion groups…these concepts represent pedagogical techniques that are being adopted at academic institutions across the country to improve undergraduate education. It’s an exciting time to teach and there are abundant opportunities to develop pedagogical skills for trainees who are bitten by the teaching bug.
As you embark on your pedagogical training and consider a teaching career, it’s important to understand how positions differ among R1 research institutions (e.g. UCI), state universities (e.g. Cal State Long Beach), liberal arts colleges and community colleges. The amount of time you are expected to teach, conduct research and serve on academic committees differs at each institution. Student populations can vary widely between academic institutions as well. Understanding these variables can help you identify and address skill gaps during your time as a grad student or postdoc. Below we highlight teaching positions and resources to help you improve as an educator.
Descriptions of Teaching Positions
- Major research institutions hire lecturers with security of employment (LSOE)—i.e., faculty who primarily teach throughout the academic year. LSOE’s often conduct pedagogical research as well.
- Primary undergraduate universities (PUIs)* and liberal arts colleges have few graduate, PhD and professional programs. Faculty at these institutions teach ~60% of the time and conduct research ~40% of time. Research projects are primarily run utilizing undergraduate and master’s students. *Due to teaching responsibilities, time allocated to research can be very limited at some PUIs.
- Faculty at state universities have a similar 60:40 percent breakdown of teaching to research responsibilities.
- Community colleges offer adjunct and tenured track positions solely focused on teaching. Adjunct appointments are considered temporary and vary in duration.
Components of a Typical Teaching Portfolio:
- Statement of Teaching Philosophy: A concise description of how you teach
- List of Courses & Sample Syllabi: Institutions are increasingly looking for candidates who have taught their own course—i.e. served as instructor of record.
- Teaching Evaluations: Quantitative and qualitative data summarizing feedback
- Letters of Recommendation: Aim for at least one letter explicitly referring to your teaching ability.
- Diversity Statement: Often a description of your approach and contributions to promoting equity, inclusion and diversity.
- Videos: It’s rare but becoming more popular for institutions to ask finalists to submit a video of a class they have taught.
UCI resources that provide training, address skill gaps & build networks:
- TAP-STEM: A collaboration between GPS-BIOMED & the Ayala School of Biological Sciences that presents an opportunity for graduate students and postdocs to teach a UCI undergraduate course. The program pairs trainees with faculty mentors during the academic year and prepares them to be an instructor of record during the summer session. Through this formal program, trainees will gain valuable experience and become competitive candidates for academic positions.
- California Community College Internship Program (CCCIP). Provides graduate students with an opportunity to experience firsthand what teaching in a community college environment entails.
- Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation. Offers a variety of workshops, certificate programs and fellowships for grad students and postdocs to gain experience designing a syllabus or teach a course. The Pedagogical Fellowship Program is open to graduate students and provides advanced training and professional support as candidates prepare for the academic job market. The Certificate in Teaching Excellence provides extended pedagogical training and experience for graduate students and postdocs in a flexible and self-paced manner.
- The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) at UCI. Promotes excellence in STEM higher education by developing faculty committed to evidence-based teaching practices for diverse students populations. At UCI trainees can learn about evidence based teaching methods, join a learning community and conduct a Teaching as Research (TAR) project by completing:
Additional resources to address skill gaps & build networks:
- NIH IRACDA Program. Promotes consortia between research-intensive institutions (RII) and partner institutions and combines a traditional mentored postdoctoral research experience with an opportunity to develop academic skills, including teaching, through workshops and mentored teaching assignments at a partner institution. The program is expected to facilitate the progress of postdoctoral candidates toward research and teaching careers in academia.
- UPLIFT at UCLA supports postdoctoral scholars in the biological sciences who have a demonstrated interest in teaching, research, and supporting diversity in STEM fields. UPLIFT combines a traditional mentored postdoctoral research experience with pedagogical training and instructor of record teaching assignments at Cal State LA.
- Teaching Internship with Experienced Support (T.I.E.S.) benefits graduate students and professionals who are interested in teaching at the community college level. T.I.E.S. interns collaborate with full-time, discipline-specific Coast Community College District (CCCD) faculty members, who serve as formal mentors.
- Teaching at a Primary Undergrad Institution (PUI). Featured article, American Chemical Society.
- How Much Teaching Experience Do I need? Blog post featured in Chronicle Vitae.
- How to Get a Teaching Job at a Liberal Arts College. Article featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education.