Guidelines for PBGG students interested in teaching careers

In a previous post I presented a proposal for a certificate program, developed by myself and fellow PBGGer Amanda Lavelle, that would serve UC Davis biology grad students interested in teaching careers. After receiving feedback that the certificate program wasn’t tenable, we reworked the program into a set of guidelines, which will be posted on the PBGG website. Here they are:

Guidelines for PBGG students interested in teaching careers

This a series of guidelines for UC Davis PBGG students who are interested in pursuing teaching careers after completing their PhDs. While this is a popular career choice (~20% of our alumni are in positions where teaching in their main function), the coursework and research proscribed by the degree program does not directly prepare students to be successful on this career path*. Therefore, you must undertake significant professional development and training in addition to your degree work. This presents a challenge in balancing career preparation with completing your degree. These guidelines aim to help you do that. Continue reading


My experience with the Los Rios Faculty Diversity Internship Program: Part 1

In September, I was accepted into the Faculty Diversity Intership Program (FDIP) at the Los Rios Community College District in Sacramento, California.  The goal of the FDIP is to recruit prospective community college faculty members from a diverse range of backgrounds and prepare them to be successful as community college instructors. The program has two phases. In the fall, interns attend a series of 6 half-day workshops which cover a variety of topics related to effective college teaching as well as issues specific to community colleges. These workshops prepare participants to make the most of the second phase of the internship, where they spend a full semester in a community college class observing, and eventually co-teaching with an experienced instructor. I have just completed the fall workshop series and will devote this post to reflecting on what I learned during the first three workshops. I discuss the second three workshops in a subsequent post. Continue reading

9 Major Takeways From “An Introduction to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching”

I recently completed my first MOOC (!), “An Introduction to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching,” which was offered by Vanderbilt University via Coursera. The course was absolutely fantastic! It was put together by a team of traditional STEM professors and STEM education researchers who belong to the CIRTL network. The goal of the course was to introduce graduate students, postdocs, and junior faculty members to a wide range of research on best practices in STEM education and look at how these practices can be implemented in different contexts. I think that the later aspect was what made the course great – after several videos where a lead instructor discussed a particular STEM education idea or practice, there would be several videos that looked how these practices play out in real classrooms – either through candid interviews with faculty and TAs or through recordings of actual classes. This would be followed up by the opportunity, via an assignment or forum prompt, to think about how you would apply the idea or practice in your own teaching. Though the course covered a huge range of interesting and useful topics (I took nearly 25 pages of notes!), I have attempted to extract the top 9 ideas from the course that I will be carrying into my classroom in the future. Here they are (in no particular order): Continue reading

Backward Design: An Introduction

This is the first in a collection of posts about topics covered in “A Learner-Centered Approach to Effective Teaching,” a workshop series offered by the UC Davis Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL). By writing these posts, I hope to solidify my grasp of the topics covered and provide useful information for those unable to attend the workshop.

We began the first workshop in the series, “Where to start: Backward design and student learning outcomes,” by thinking about how courses are typically planned in the instructor-centered model of learning. In this model, the instructor uses their expertise to assemble lectures that transmit knowledge to students about a particular topic. One difficulty with this approach is that, for any given topic, there is far more information available than can possibly be covered in single lecture (or even an entire semester in many cases). How, then, do instructors typically decide what to include? Continue reading