Graduate students who aspire to be college-level instructors can now take advantage of a new opportunity offered through the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology.

Foundations of College Teaching is a self-paced program that can be experienced through a series of synchronous workshops, through asynchronous modules within ReggieNet, or through a mix of both. During this year-long program, participants develop a rich understanding and vocabulary as both practitioners and scholars of pedagogy, culminating in a teaching portfolio and a certificate of completion.

The program is open to all graduate students, whether they have a teaching assignment or not.

“Many graduate students are teaching assistants or instructors of record,” says CTLT Interim Director Dr. Jennifer Friberg. “And while that’s a valuable experience, their time at Illinois State is limited. We want to give them, and those who never got the chance to teach here, a strong foundation to help them meet their career goals after they leave us.”

Foundations of College Teaching was piloted during the last academic year. It was developed with graduate students’ busy lives in mind.

“It’s difficult to add anything else to an already packed schedule, so that’s why we’re trying to make this program as flexible as possible,” explains David Giovagnoli, a Ph.D. student in English and one of the primary architects of the program through his assistantship at CTLT.  “We’ve designed this so you can do it little by little over the whole course of your degree, or you can do it in larger chunks between semesters.”

A typical teaching portfolio might include items like a teaching philosophy, a sample course syllabus, or assessment plans. Creating these helps students to focus on the future.

“It’s all designed to guide graduate students to create items that they can use in their own teaching while still at Illinois State or in preparing application materials for doctoral programs or faculty positions,” says Dr. Julie McFann, CTLT’s coordinator for graduate student professional development, who worked with Giovagnoli on the program. 

In order to earn the certificate of completion, students must also complete three other professional development opportunities, either through CTLT, their college or through a professional organization.

“This ensures that participants can tailor their professional development to their own goals,” notes McFann.

So far, one doctoral student and two master’s students have earned certificates of completion.

Danieli Mercado-Ramos, a second-year master’s student in psychology, says the Foundations of College Teaching program gave her confidence. “It opened me up to perspectives of teaching I didn’t know,” she says, “especially those related to helping and guiding students to be their best.”

“The program is flexible, you can work at your own pace, and you can choose professional development events that are relevant to you,” agrees Elizabeth Marsh, also a second-year master’s student in psychology.

Once students complete Foundations of College Teaching, they have the option of taking Foundations of Instructional Design, which explores the basics of building college-level courses. CTLT is working with partners across campus to add additional programs, too, all aimed at helping the graduate students of today become the teaching faculty members of tomorrow.

All graduate students enrolled at Illinois State already have access to the Foundations of College Teaching ReggieNet site. To learn more about that and see a schedule of face-to-face meetings, check out CTLT’s website.