Over the past three years, the NMSU-HHMI program has provided graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with training in scientific teaching. The Scientific Teaching Fellows (STFs) participate in a year-long program designed to introduce the next generation of science faculty to modern approaches to teaching science.
Why is this kind of training needed?
Many new faculty start their positions with only limited teaching experience, often restricted to laboratory teaching assistantships in graduate school. Many graduate teaching assistantships do not provide opportunities to develop learning goals and outcomes, to design active learning activities or to independently assess student learning. Without this experience, early teaching experiences can be challenging for both new faculty and their students.
What does the program involve?
• Weekly group meetings with the STFs and the program facilitator provide time for discussions, reflections and feedback. The small group size ensures that each STF receives individualized feedback.
• In the fall semester, the STFs begin to develop a theoretical background for different pedagogical approaches, carry out extensive classroom observations and teach a short unit (“tidbit”) in an undergraduate class.
• In the spring semester the STFs co-teach a course with a teaching mentor and develop a teaching philosophy and portfolio.
• Monthly Science Teaching Toolbox meetings provide an opportunity for the broader NMSU community to participate in interactive presentations by the STFs on specific teaching strategies.