Re: Two Models of Grad. Students as Teachers

Claire Farrer (Claire_Farrer@MACGATE.CSUCHICO.EDU)
Wed, 9 Mar 1994 13:59:21 -0800

To: Multiple Users of Anthro-L
From: Claire R. Farrer
Re: Teaching

I have taught in pre-elementary and elementary schools (always on
"provisional" credentials since I could not abide courses on teaching--mostly
how to run film strips, etc., in my experience) as well as at two
universities and in several non-academic (e.g., business or institute)
settings. At the major university (U or IL in Urbana-Champaign) we in the
anthro. dept. had grad. teaching assistants whom we could train or not, as we
saw fit. Being the controlling sort, I did some training and a lot of
checking and suggesting as well as oversight on exam correction and the like.
Now (at CaStateU-Chico) I am in a department where there is a course,
Supervised College Teaching, that seems to work out well.

A graduate student (we offer a Master's) who has the necessary interest
contracts with an individual faculty member. The student receives grad.
course credit and a grade while the faculty member gets assistance in test
grading (the biggest boon to me,I feel.) The student and faculty person
have a few guidelines to follow: the student is supposed to participate in
the selection of texts, development of the syllabus, construction and
correction of exams., and must have full responsibility for at least one and
preferrably more meetings of the class. The faculty member is present during
these studnet-prepared and devlivered lectures and provides a critique to the
student after the student's lecture. Through the critique, the student is
expected to perform more appropriately the next time round. This method
works rather well, providing both faculty sponsor and student are interested
in investing the necessary time. Undergrad. students in the course do not
feel "cheated" out of a professor's time and/or expertise. They usually are
quite sympathetic to a student teacher, only a few years older than are they,
trying to learn how to teach and the undergrad. students often offer the most
insightful comments to the student teacher. However, sometimes the process
is abused, as when a faculty person goes to a meeting, or whatever, and
leaves an inexperienced student in full charge--but, then, no one can
legislate moral behavior. The grad. student, for her/his part, should emerge
with a full set of lecture notes and experience in all portions of a typical
undergrad. course.

Since most of our students work for a few years before pursuing Ph.D.s, if,
indeed, they do go on after their master's here, their primary teaching
employment is in community colleges where they have a five-course/semester
teaching load. Several have reported back that they felt theirs was the
accepted application because they could show on a transcript that they had
formal instruction in how to teach. They also report having a model to
follow while they develop their own styles of teaching and preparation.

It has always amazed me that we in anthropology "unleash the untrained," in
the words of one of my colleagues, Jim Myers. We often send students to the
field with no training in either methods or theory of ethnography and we
certainly often send them into the classroom without even the information on
how to construct a class list, let alone a syllabus. That most of them
succeed anyway is a tribute to the kind of young people we attract into the