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Teaching and Mentoring Students Lori A. Clarke University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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Presentation on theme: "Teaching and Mentoring Students Lori A. Clarke University of Massachusetts, Amherst."— Presentation transcript:

1 Teaching and Mentoring Students Lori A. Clarke University of Massachusetts, Amherst

2 Teaching and Mentoring An important part of a professor’s life Teach undergraduate courses Mentor undergraduates Teach graduate courses Mentor graduates The best of times, the worst of times

3 Best of Times Play a part in improving someone’s life See them gain confidence See them grow intellectually and personally See them develop skills To do research Write papers Give presentations To have a successful career Worthwhile and rewarding endeavor Lifelong learning experience for you

4 Worst of Times Preparing class material is time consuming Assigning grades (hws, exams, course) takes a lot of time Very important to the student Try to be fair and objective Unpleasant Dealing with students who are unhappy with their grade Dealing with students who just want to pass Dealing with cheating Dealing with excuses …

5 Teaching Conundrum Must do an adequate job in your teaching to achieve tenure Can never spend enough time on teaching to get it “right” Lectures, projects, exams,… could always be better If you spend too much time on teaching, you will not get tenure

6 ClassroomTeaching Put syllabus, assignments, course notes online Be clear about expectations Late assignments, missing assignments, make-up policy Individual or team efforts Consequences of cheating Only change requirements if necessary and do so only to the students’ benefit Encourage interaction in the classroom There are no “bad” questions Make lemonaid out of lemons Make participation a required part of the class Informal or formal

7 Classroom Teaching Be prepared--takes time, but worth it Be on time Be available during stated office hours and respond to Help students individually Be responsive when special needs arise But, not obligated to re-teach course to a student who has not done their part Not attended the lectures Not read the material

8 Classroom Teaching Make the class challenging, but not impossible Assess how well the class is going Mid point evaluation questionnaire, classroom feedback, End of semester evaluation Plan when to distribute the questionnaire Teaching concerns Ask someone you respect and trust to observe your class and provide feedback Team teach with a “good teacher” Use campus teaching support services

9 Teaching Portfolio Develop a portfolio of courses you can teach Low level, high level, graduate level courses Teach classes close to your research area Limit number of courses in your portfolio First time course development is time consuming Reuse past material (yours or others) Refresh or introduce some new material each time you reteach a course Remember, it can always be better, but… Best researchers are usually good (and often great) teachers

10 Teaching Graduate Courses Teach in area of expertise (or in areas where you want to gain expertise) Attracts graduate students Helps you assess graduate students Courses deeper and faster paced MUST be prepared Reputation depends to some extent on how well you teach graduate classes You will learn a lot

11 Teaching Graduate Courses Important goals Teach new concepts, new ways to solve problems Encourage critical thinking Teach the scientific method Hypothesis and evaluation Teach good communication skills Writing and speaking

12 Mentoring Undergraduates Advising Classes to take Career planning Insist on a face-to-face meeting Don’t just cover the basics Find out how they are “really” doing Discuss career options Graduate school Industrial options Volunteer to review job or graduate school application material Encourage students: a kind word can mean a great deal, especially to students from underrepresented groups

13 Undergraduate Research Need a well-defined, limited research project with easy to track milestones Should not be on the critical path Can pair ungrad(s) with a grad student Include ugrads in lab activities Meet regularly and lay out well defined goals Many ways to “fund” undergrads Grant funding, REUs Independent study, honors project Need to match project with student’s skills Often need to adjust on the fly

14 Mentoring Graduate Students Meet regularly Review accomplishments since the last meeting Encourage students to bring work products, to keep an (electronic) notebook Provide feedback strengths and weaknesses Agree on what the student is expected to accomplish next Let the student propose next steps Revise accordingly e.g., too ambitious, too limited, should pursue some intermediate steps or totally new direction Discuss short term goals (e.g. next meeting) Review longer term, broader goals Reveal your thought processes

15 How to get students started doing research Push them off a cliff and see if they land on their feet Teach them how to rappel first Start out with a “relatively” well defined task Discuss the problems that arise and encourage them to think of solutions Help direct their search for solutions Revisit the task and view it from a larger perspective, widen the problem and repeat Reveal your thought processes Discuss alternatives Explain choices Lead, collaborate, follow

16 When is a student finished? One size does not fit all Accomplishments will impact Advisor’s letter of recommendation Job choices

17 Many topics to cover How to do research Different paradigms How to review and evaluate the literature How to communicate with colleagues 3 minute elevator talk, 10 minute version How to give a presentation Outline first Review slides Practice talk(s) How to write-up results for a paper Outline, outline, outline

18 And more topics What to publish and where How to obtain grants How to behave professionally How to look for a job Balancing life and career after graduation …

19 Not all graduate students are diamonds hidden in the rough Discuss the problem Consider different approaches Consider different research areas Put the student on a measured mile, with clear objectives May help make it clear to you and to the student that it is not working Or may energize the student to do better Perhaps the student is not a good match with your personality your research style or area or maybe the student should not be a graduate student

20 Lifelong committment “Advisor” for life Always available to help with problems Promote (former) student’s career Recommend for program committees, awards, workshops, etc.

21 Last words Will not get tenure based on good teaching, but may not get tenure because of bad teaching You have tremendous influence Use it wisely Praise good work Encourage students Best part of being a faculty member is working with students Enjoy the experience!


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