Initial Publication Date: July 11, 2016

Improving Teaching and Learning

Part of the InTeGrate Stanford University Program Model

Courses and Materials
Developed by the Project »

Supporting Faculty Change

The faculty that we have worked with at the partner institutions have generally been on board from the start. Main concerns included time commitment to mentoring a graduate student or postdoc, or how to incorporate the material into their syllabus. We worked with the faculty by making the time commitment very clear, and understanding if a faculty member was interested, but could not commit to participating that semester. We also worked with administrative staff to assist in clarifying the process by which outside individuals can teach at their school. Otherwise, faculty were quite eager to have an additional lecturer and new curriculum to further enrich their classroom. One of the keys to success in this respect was the flexibility of the program: flexibility with regards to how much of the module material was taught in the classroom, adaptations made to the material so that it fit well with course curriculum, when during the course the module material was presented and ability to adapt to different types of classroom settings.

Another important aspect of the InTeGrate Teaching program was improving the capacity for graduate students and postdocs to teach in a diverse classroom setting. At the beginning of the program, graduate students and postdocs were required to participate in a 2-day workshop, with the first day focusing on pedagogy, curriculum design and other teaching skills and the second day focusing on how to use the module material in the classroom (see the program and materials from the 2014 workshop and the 2015 workshop; these links open in a new window). We have also invited non-InTeGrate participants to join the workshop. Feedback on the quality, design and usefulness of the workshop has been overwhelmingly positive from all of the student participants. They were very pleased to have had the opportunity to learn skills in pedagogy, which most of them had never been exposed to. It gave them more confidence in teaching in the classroom. One student made the following comment with regards to the workshop:

"One of the best parts of the workshop was the exposure to all of the pedagogical methods, in particular the backward design really stood out to me and is something that has come up in my job interviews. The concept of jigsawing, which Anne covered, and is also in the module material, was also really helpful."

In addition to learning about formal pedagogy approaches in the workshop, Stanford students learned the real-life application of these skills from their faculty mentors. As part of the InTeGrate requirements, students are required to meet with their faculty mentor a minimum of 3 times and observed their faculty mentor teaching in the classroom on at least one occasion and then discuss strategies for keeping student attention, teaching at the right level, and other useful tips for a successful teaching experience. After each of their teaching sessions, Stanford students would discuss with their faculty mentors what worked well and what could be done better. All of these activities helped the grad students and postdocs gain valuable skills in teaching, which gave them confidence for future teaching . Some student comments follow:

"Being paired with an instructor who focused on teaching helped give me a lot more feedback specifically on teaching. I have taught and TA'ed before, but that was always on the side, but this experience was focusing on teaching and being in an institution that was not Stanford was really helpful for me. I've only been in ivy league institutions, so this was a different type of student, so it was great to have a different kind of experience. It was really useful."

"My faculty mentor was very open to suggestions and ideas about how to teach the module material. He was very positive and gave constructive suggestions and tips too. He was quite experienced. My concern was to hold the attention of the students and he knew that, so he would intervene sometimes to help recapture their attention at times. He worked well with me."

"My faculty mentor was awesome and totally supportive and one thing that worked really well was that we met and sat in on his class before teaching and we saw his style and got a feeling for his students and how to handle the classroom. We would meet with Mike a half hour before class and again after class for half an hour and go over what went well and what didn't. This was awesome."