Teaching

As part of your education, one semester of teaching is required. Typically this involves being a laboratory instructor or section leader and should not require more than 10 hours per week. Financial compensation for this teaching is not always available, although it can sometimes be arranged depending upon the needs and resources of individual departments. You may fulfill the teaching requirement in other ways as well.

For example, teaching in the summer PEOPLE program fulfills one-half of the teaching requirement. Two summers of PEOPLE instruction fulfills the entire requirement. The PEOPLE Program runs a summer school session for underrepresented high school students from Madison, Milwaukee, Racine, and tribal schools. We coordinate a neuroscience section for both the one-week and three-week sections. You have the opportunity by teaching for the PEOPLE Program to develop your own curriculum, daily lesson plans, and evaluations in addition to hands on experience teaching local youth. You are expected to dedicate time to preparation starting at least one month before teaching begins Another way to complete your teaching requirement is by acting as a teaching assistant for a subgroup as part of the Neuroscience Seminar. You may only act as a teaching assistant for a subgroup one time and it fulfills one half of your requirement. Final approval of how you fulfill the teaching requirement is given by your Advisory Committee.

Teaching Fellows in Neuroscience (TFN)
The Program has instituted a program called Teaching Fellows in Neuroscience (TFN). The aim of the program is to allow interested NTP graduate students to obtain training in teaching while they maintain our traditional research-oriented training leading to a Ph.D. in neuroscience. TFN is designed for students who are interested in getting faculty positions where teaching is a requirement of the job, such as at four-year liberal arts colleges where teaching is the primary obligation or at primarily research universities where the emphasis is on research but teaching and mentoring students is nonetheless an important aspect of the job.

NTP graduate students who complete the TFN program will be much more effective teachers since they will have seriously considered pedagogical practices for teaching neuroscience and received mentoring training and hands-on experience as a mentor of an undergraduate in a research setting. The TFN program will provide our graduate students with a distinct competitive advantage when they complete their research training and seek a faculty position.

To implement the TFN program the Program has partnered with several outstanding programs on the UW-Madison campus, the Delta Program and WISCIENCE, that have targeted the training of graduate students and faculty in teaching.

TFN Requirements

Requirement 1: Coursework
Graduate courses are an integral component of both the Delta and WISCIENCE programs. Graduate students can fulfill the requirements for the TFN certificate by taking one Delta or WISCIENCE course. The coursework must be taken before the Delta Internship. Examples of courses recently offered by both programs include:

  1. Instructional Materials Development - Graduate students work in partnership with faculty/staff to design and implement high quality instructional materials.
  2. Informal Science Education for Scientists: A Practicum - Participants learn to effectively communicate their disciplinary research to a wide array of audiences by examining informal communication strategies.
  3. Diversity in the College Classroom - Participants consider the complex issues of diversity and how to address them effectively in their courses.
  4. The College Classroom - Participants gain knowledge in the basics of learning theory and effective teaching methods, in addition to creating a teaching philosophy and designing a course curriculum. Offered in class and online for participants across the CIRTL Network.
  5. The College Classroom: Effective Teaching with Technology - Participants learn both how to incorporate technological tools into their teaching practices and how to develop and evaluate technology-based instructional materials.
  6. Inquiry-based Biology Teaching - In this graduate-level course, students build a foundation of knowledge about teaching biology at the college level. The course is both scholarly and practical in nature: students construct an understanding of fundamental principles and sound pedagogy that they apply to their own teaching.

Requirement 2: Practical Experience
The second requirement, completion of the Delta Internship, is usually done during the semester that the graduate student is fulfilling the teaching requirement of the NTP. The Delta Internship Program provides practical experiences for participants to help them advance their training as teachers. Working in partnership with a faculty or instructional staff member, interns define a problem to be addressed (e.g. student misconceptions), and then devise and implement a solution and evaluate its efficacy for improving learning. The course aims to provide: (a) an intern learning community within Delta, (b) opportunities for peer and constructive feedback on teaching activities, (c) a chance to discuss relevant topics, and (d) a place for interns to reflect and translate their experiences into material for their teaching portfolio. Internships can include, but are not limited to:

  • Adding an evaluation component to an existing course or laboratory;
  • Curriculum (re)design and implementation;
  • Instructional material design and implementation;
  • Assistance with teaching a course.

Requirement 3: Mentor Training
The third and final requirement is to take the mentoring seminar, CBE 562: Research Mentoring Seminar, which is typically taken in concert with a real mentoring experience in the student’s research laboratory. There are many opportunities for mentoring of undergraduate students: the Biology 152 course requires sophomore undergraduate students to do a one-semester research project in a biology lab and numerous undergraduate summer research programs provide mentoring opportunities, in addition to undergraduates participating in laboratory research for independent study credit. The seminar addresses issues of effective communication and work habits, of diversity in the lab, and the use of scientific approaches to mentoring students.

To apply for the TfN, please submit the Teaching Fellows in Neuroscience Form, found on the forms page under Student Resources. Submit the document to the NTP office for review and if approved, your certificate will be awarded to you.