Posts Tagged teaching

ON-TRAC Prepares Grads to Teach

In a recent commentary in The Chronicle (Nov. 2013), Derek Bok opines that a “most glaring defect of our graduate programs…is how little they do to prepare their students to teach.”  Bok throws out scary numbers; 40% of doctorates fail to earn degrees in TEN YEARS and states that some advisors go as far as to tell a graduate student NOT to focus on teaching duties less it take away from research.


UT Arlington is a member of the CIRTL Network – a network that spans the country and involves over 20 schools’ resources to improve STEM teaching skills in graduate students.  The program at UT Arlington is appropriately named “Organizational Network for Teaching as Research Advancement and Collaboration,” but fondly called ON-TRAC (so we at least avoid people referring to it as that teaching thing).ON-TRAC now hosts bi-weekly, community meetings and online seminars.  It is a great time to get involved.  Download an informational CIRTL ON-TRAC Flyer and find out more! Contact to get on the events listserv.

Teaching-as-research can take your academic career to a competitive level.

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Faculty Focus: A Teaching Resource

If you are a Graduate Student 1.) teaching classes 2.) planning on a future professorship 3.) Mentoring other students 4.) Wanting to know more about teaching in general – Faculty Focus should be on your radar!

Faculty Focus is an easy-to-read, daily, free newsletter about teaching (aghhh, every day!?!?!?). Don’t worry – you don’t have to sign up and receive a billion emails. I do recommend, however, frequenting the site to learn from those who have been in the field, fighting the good fight.

Posts are searchable by topic.  A single post is made available each day by a different educator or related professional so the perspectives on teaching and education one can gain from a quick read of this site are delightfully diverse.  Recent posts include topics like, “Motivating Students with Teaching Techniques that Establish Relevance, Promote Autonomy,” and, “Tips for Humanizing Your Online Course,” (although I do have an affinity for robots). Check it out!

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Center for the Integration for Research, Teaching and Learning – ONLINE COFFEE HOUR!

Developing a work-life balance for sustaining a productive career and your sanity.

Brew of cup of java and attend the CIRTL online coffee hour on Feb. 27th from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm (register and attend through the link above).  You’ll need headphones and a mic if you would like to share – or just log on and listen to the chat if you want to know more about the subject but aren’t ready to contribute.   This session will be hosted by Rique Campa, Professor of Ecology  and Associate Dean of the Graduate School at Michigan State.  Dr. Campa will also be blogging daily (and has been doing so since Feb. 11) on this topic, including how he organizes his day and why he does it.

Coffee hours are held regularly so check back on the site to see upcoming topics.

HEADS UP! Attending these online coffee hours are part of a certification program for STEM Ph.D.’s here at UTA called ON-TRAC.  There are currently three levels of achievement and because this program is teaching focused – it is a GREAT resume builder.  Interested?  Get more info at an ON-TRAC informational meeting on March 6th at noon.  Email for details.

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Digital Humanties – an Expensive Word

The Feb. 18th article in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled,Stop Calling it ‘Digital Humanities,‘” is a great article encouraging small colleges and liberal arts schools to take part in the digital humanities (DH) movement.  The first suggestion:

“A persistent criticism of the digital-humanities movement is that it is elitist and exclusive because it requires the resources of a major university…Academics and administrators at small liberal-arts colleges may read about DH and, however exciting it sounds, decide that it ill suits their teaching mission.” The Chronicle – Feb. 2013

The article goes on to list several reasons why small schools have an advantage over large schools with big budgets when it comes to the DH movement.

“How does this help me?” the liberal arts major asked, clearly communicating a jaded and dim outlook on the job market.

For starters – not all small schools know they have an advantage.  For the liberal arts major this means OPPORTUNITY! If a small college has a posting for a teaching position, you now have an edge on the competition.  Stating how you can bring the DH movement to a small school in a big way will definitely get the attention of an employer who has decided, “No thanks, to expensive.”

Further, you can show how DH can bring faculty together in their research efforts, a task that is notoriously difficult.

A small college may not have many people who are openly experimenting with the digital humanities, but there are likely to be many who are interested in some aspect of it, especially the ways it can enhance teaching and learning. In particular, reach out to the library staff and the information technologists….Departments such as communication, computer science, and education often include potential allies as well, because they are interested in new media and social media, coding and Web design, instructional technology, hybrid pedagogy, and assessment.”
The Chronicle – Feb. 2013

One of the best ways to get a job is to show that not only are you the best person for it, but that you will add to the success of the institution overall.

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#Alt-ac – Why You Need to Know About It

Want to teach?  Want  tenured-track position?  Want to do your research at a top tier university?  Post-docs are applying by the droves (900 applications per position is apparently not uncommon) to get their foot, hand, leg, whatever, in the proverbial door of the house that research built.  Don’t freak.  You can still get a satisfying position at a university. 

The recent emergence of Alternative Academic positions allows the best and brightest to use their teaching and research skills in specialist positions.  The term ”specialist” at the university level often gets a bad wrap for being strictly administrative.  WRONG! In today’s university culture, that is not always so.  Specialist positions encompass diverse tasks, including researching, assisting students, teaching and hosting workshops, and even fancy award dinners here and there.  Learn a lesson from a pro:

“#Alt-ac scholars interested in pursuing intellectual work that incorporates academic and professional citizenship is a positive trend.
                       - Tanya Clement Assoc. Director, DCC @ U of Maryland-College Park

So please remember to relax if you don’t make the cut for the associate professor position you and your 20 colleagues will all apply for the same day mechanical checks come back error free.  And, don’t feel like you need to hide the fact that traditional academia is only ONE of your MANY options. 

Get out. Explore.  Its OK.  You can even document your adventures via abstract form and submit them to Brian Croxall, one of the the brains behind the #Alt-Ac movement.  There are lots of positions that require an overdeveloped, super smart, highly intellectual brain in (and outside of) the university system.  How do I know this?  I happened to get one of those positions.

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