Certificate of College Teaching

The Department offers a special program for graduate students designed to give them extensive training and experience in teaching at the college level.

Up to six students are selected for the program each year. Each of these students normally serves during the academic year as a lead TA in an introductory physics or astronomy course. As a lead TA, each student works closely with the faculty mentor/instructor in charge of the course, and has additional responsibilities which may include giving review sessions or serving on occasion as a substitute lecturer. After serving as lead TA in one of these courses, the program culminates with the student teaching on his/her own the corresponding course (or a closely related one) during the University's summer session.

Students successfully completing the program are awarded a Certificate of College Teaching in Physics or Astronomy, to be presented during the graduation ceremony in May. The requirements for the certificate are:

  1. service as a TA for at least two semesters, with above-average performance, as determined by feedback from the course instructors, and information from mid-semester TA evaluations.
  2. preparation of a teaching portfolio during the teaching of a summer course, or during a preceding semester. The teaching portfolio should be prepared under the mentorship of a faculty member. Usually, the faculty member will be teaching the same course that the graduate TA is preparing to teach in the summer session. The teaching portfolio should include:
    • A complete syllabus for the summer course stating what will be covered during each lecture. Since the summer course covers a whole semester in a 6 week period, this should be done by consultation with instructors who have taught courses in previous summers. The course schedule should include the schedule of labs.
    • A complete set of homework assignments and solutions for the summer course.
    • A complete set of exams that will be given during the summer course.
    • A course information sheet listing course policies, grading scheme, office hours etc.
    • Copies of undergraduate student comments and evaluations from the two semesters that the graduate student served as a TA.
  3. During the summer course, evaluations of the instructor and of the course will be obtained in three different ways:
    • The standard department mid-semester TA evaluations will be used for the course instructors, but at the end of the summer semester.
    • The Small Group Instructional Diagnostic procedure will be used in the middle of the semester. One or two instructors of the summer courses will rotate through the courses and evaluate each other's courses.
    • Participants in this program are to be videotaped either during the academic year (while being a TA) or during the summer. Review of the tapes serves as part of the self evaluation process.
  4. After completing the summer course, each graduate instructor will be asked to prepare a one hour presentation on a topic related to the teaching of physics (to be approved of by the TA training committee) to be presented as part of the Graduate Research and Teaching Seminar Series (PHY 597). In addition, participants in this program are expected to play a major role in the "TA Training Program" for the following academic year, helping in the training of new first year TA's.

For further information contact:

Linda Case
Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of Physics & Astronomy