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Excellence Everywhere - National University of Ireland, Galway

Excellence Everywhere - National University of Ireland, Galway

a relaxed format for

a relaxed format for talking about scienceStart a monthly film club. Invite your laboratory group to watch and discuss a science-related movie.Though there are many wonderful educational films, this works even better with an entertainingcinematic movie. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has run a “Science in the Cinema” activityfor those who live near its Bethesda, Maryland campus since 1994, and has a long list of movies—mostly box office hits—and resource materials that will add to a lively discussion. The list can befound at http://science.education.nih.gov/cinema.More advice on creating a culture of teaching in your lab can be found in chapter 10, “Expanding YourInfluence: Training the Next Generation of Scientists.”Creating a LearningEnvironment in Your LabIn a very real sense, your laboratory is also a classroom—onein which the scientific process oftenresults in something new, exciting, or unexpected.In the lab, as in the classroom, you will often wantto avoid lecturing and giving trainees answerstoo quickly, and will instead prefer to emphasizequestions and encourage reflection. You can createa culture of learning in your lab for all trainees byusing some of the teaching strategies describedabove, and by encouraging members of your labgroup to learn from each other.Start a Journal Club. Journal clubs are a greatway to examine current literature and to let thosejust starting in the lab know that there are manyquestions left to be answered. Ask a member ofthe lab to select an original peer-reviewed journalarticle, distribute it in advance to the group,prepare an introduction to the paper, and provideany relevant or background information. If youhave a large group, lab members can break up intosmaller groups to discuss research-related issues(How good is the data? Should more experimentshave been done?), then reconvene and sharetheir thoughts with the group as a whole. Whileyour students are learning about experimentaldesign and other research issues, they will alsobe learning to collaborate and communicate.Ideally, journal club should be held on a weeklybasis, but if that is not possible, one good way tokeep everyone up on current literature is to askeach member of the group to present briefly theabstract of at least one paper at the beginning ofweekly lab meetings. (See chapter 4, page 58.)Time ManagementWhen Balancing Teachingand ResearchThe amount of time you devote to developingor teaching a course will depend in part on thepriority your institution places on teaching. If yourinstitution considers research its top priority, keepin mind that although you will want to be the bestteacher you can in the time allowed, you shouldnot permit your teaching obligations to undercutyour commitment to research. Volunteer to teachthe courses your department or institute particularlyneeds but are not as difficult to teach—thatway you can legitimately say, “Sorry, I am alreadycommitted” when you are asked to teach acourse that would be more time-consuming todevelop or teach.Even if you cannot reduce the number of hours,perhaps you could stack your teaching load sothat you teach all of your classes in one semesterand arrange to have a term with no teaching. Youmight also ask to teach multiple sections of thesame course to reduce your preparation time, andrequest graduate assistants to help you gradeexams. At the very least, you should try to clarifyyour teaching load. How many classes will youhave each term? What are typical enrollments ineach class? How much time will you be expectedto spend advising students or supervising thesesor dissertations? Does supervising undergraduateresearch count as teaching? How much creditdo you receive for teaching the lab sections of acourse? Armed with such knowledge, you mightbe able to make trade-offs that help you manageyour teaching load more effectively.118 excellence everywhere

Borrow, Adapt and Recycle.n Teach the same course several times, so thatyou are just making adjustments to it rather thanstarting from scratch every year.n Teach a course previously taught by someone whois willing to lend you copies of his or her notes,exams, and homework assignments.n Borrow or adapt high-quality curricula that arealready available. Curricula and sometimes lecturesfrom courses from universities worldwide arecollected at the Open Courseware Consortium’sWeb site, http://www.ocwconsortium.org. Linksinclude the more than 1800 courses now onlinefrom the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,the courses of the UK’s Open University, materialsfrom several Spanish, Mexican and Colombianuniversities, a translation project renderingmaterials into Portuguese, and technical coursesfrom 11 universities in Paris.Know Yourself.n Consider your personal rhythms. If you have anyinfluence over scheduling, choose a class that doesnot completely disrupt your day. For example, youcould teach two back-to-back classes or scheduledays without classes to help you find time for yourresearch.n Set realistic limits on your own class preparationand do not be a perfectionist.The Teaching PortfolioYou want to make sure that your teaching successesare favorably considered as part of yourpromotion review. One way to do this is to developa teaching portfolio. This document is an importantasset—not only for your career, but also for yourown professional development. Compiling yourportfolio will force you to reflect on your teaching,so that you can continue to analyze and improve it.While there are many ways to compile a teachingportfolio and many items you might include, typicalportfolios include a personal statement about yourteaching philosophy, evidence of your teaching, andsupporting materials. Unlike your scientific CV, whichlists all publications you have ever written, theteaching portfolio is more selective and has beencompared to an artist’s portfolio—a sampling of thebreadth and depth of your work.Sample Teaching PortfolioA teaching portfolio includes these items:n Personal Material: A short statementof your teaching philosophy, a broaderstatement of your teaching responsibilities,representative course syllabi, andsteps you have taken to enhance yourteaching skills or background knowledge.n Materials from Others: Student andcourse evaluation data from presentand former classes, statements fromcolleagues who have observed yourclassroom teaching, statements fromteaching assistants (TAs) you havesupervised, and any honors or otherrecognition you received for teaching.n Products of Teaching: Student scoreson class, departmental, and nationalcertification exams, samples of studentwork, and testimonials from alumni oremployers of former students.While the list might seem overwhelmingat first and could take years to develop tothe fullest, it is manageable if you take itin steps. The most important thing is tostart collecting and organizing informationrelated to your teaching philosophy andaccomplishments and to start compilingthose materials in a box, a loose-leafnotebook,or another format that can easilybe updated and supplemented.Becoming a good teacher may seem like a lot ofwork with little reward, but remember that yourresearch and teaching careers can work hand inhand. Your research can inform your teaching,and your teaching can inform your research.Learning to be an effective teacher is worth thetime and effort. Not only will you be instrumentalin inspiring and educating a new generation ofscientists, but you will also enhance your ownskills, confidence, and creativity. Remember, too,that teaching can be a stabilizing force in your life,especially if your research becomes discouragingor you lose ground in the laboratory. The time youteaching and course design119

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