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Teaching certificate - would it help?

  1. Jan 6, 2009 #1


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    My university is offering a certificate in 'teaching science and engineering' this semester. It's for graduate students. I'm about 1.5 years from finishing my PhD in physics, and hoping to eventually get a job teaching at a liberal arts college. Would having this certificate make any difference to my resume? I've taught labs and mentored a few undergrad students in research projects, but haven't taught any full-blown classes, and I probably won't get the chance anytime soon. The only catch is that I'm told it's likely to be more engineering-oriented than anything else, just because of the vast numbers of engineering students vs science students who might take it - but that can't be too much different than teaching a physics class, right?

    Anyone done this? Or been on a hiring committee who could give me some advice? I do plan to do at least one post-doc before looking for a faculty position, but it has a good chance of not being at a university, so I might not get any more teaching experience.
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  3. Jan 7, 2009 #2


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    It will absolutely help.

    Teaching experience and proficiency is one of the key elements factored into the academic hiring and promotion policy at my university (and this seems to be the rule rather than the exception). If you are at all thinking about going into academia, my advice is to start putting together a teaching dossier - a list of classes taught, samples of your assignments, lectures, copies of those anonymous teaching evaluations, teaching awards, etc.
  4. Jan 7, 2009 #3
    It will help, for the reasons listed above. I'm concerned, however, about the requirements for the certificate (which you haven't listed), just because you are in the terminal phases of your Ph.D. program. If you put together a teaching portfolio, you're going to need to have to be able to do the activities requisite to the process... and is your adviser going sympathize with this? Are you going to have the time to do this? And if the program doesn't require you to do some teaching, etc., then quite frankly, it's a one-liner, but when you're asked about it, what are you going to be able to say? That you've attended some seminars during a term (when you were able, and not buried in the lab?)... that perhaps you wrote a philosophy of education when you were required to (although many liberal arts programs ask you for that, so it's not bad to have one)? A one semester program sounds minimal based on others I know of (for instance the University of Colorado's Graduate Teacher Program)... but I guess if it's what you are offered, it's better than nothing... and to some degree all the little one-liners on CV's can be helpful. It's at least shows you can about teaching and trying to be up-to-date on the latest movements in the field of science and engineering education, which is tremendously important at liberal arts schools (and even in some state programs).
  5. Jan 7, 2009 #4


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    Thanks for the responses. I looked into it a bit more, and it actually requires 11 credits - at least 3 full-credit courses on teaching, educational research methods, and an elective (psychology or education dept) as well as 2 credits of mentoring (not really sure what that would entail). My adviser was the one who sent me the info, so I'm guessing he wouldn't mind if I took a few hours a week to devote to this - although my travel schedule might prevent me from taking the courses.

    I think I'll look into attending a class this semester - thanks again for the inside info.
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