Comprehensive Development of Teaching Abilities: Theory and Application
Graduate students have many opportunities to develop their teaching abilities. During the course of their MA and PhD studies students learn to differentiate among a variety of approaches to the teaching of German language and culture. By recognizing the potential of each individual approach for classroom-based learning, graduate students develop their own identity as instructors. By the time students graduate from our program, they will have a deep understanding of the guiding principles of our ever-evolving curriculum, and they will be able to apply their knowledge to other teaching contexts. Annually, the Department recognizes excellence in teaching with the Robert Kauf Award.
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The teaching assistant (TA) development program is comprised of the following components:
- Graduate students have opportunities to teach at all levels of the undergraduate curriculum, including fully online courses.
- Pre-semester orientation: During a week-long orientation TAs learn how to use the teaching materials of our program. Special focus is placed on the effective integration of online learning materials in the face-to-face classroom context, since all of our basic language courses are taught in a blended format.
- Graduate level courses: Students take a graduate course on different teaching approaches and materials design during their first semester. This course provides them with resources from which they can draw to develop their teaching abilities independently beyond the program. The course focuses heavily on reading theoretical texts and empirical research. Additional workshops focus on teaching materials design.
- TA meetings: Weekly meetings focus on core teaching issues, such as classroom management, corrective feedback, test design, and learning strategies.
- Teaching observations: TAs are regularly observed as a way to encourage them to reflect on effective teaching strategies and advance their teaching abilities.
- Curriculum revisions: TAs are invited to participate in curricular projects to build their teaching portfolios.
- PhD students have the unique opportunity to serve as the assistant to the Language Program Director. In this position they participate in making curricular decisions, designing syllabi for the basic language program, and leading TA development workshops.
- Mentored teaching development: TAs have the option to work as the assistant of a faculty member who teaches a General Education course. During this mentorship experience the TA learns about syllabus creation (beyond a commercial textbook), course goal design, various assessment strategies, and the development of blended learning materials. Students who have worked with a faculty member can then teach an online course on the same topic.