Teaching Preparation

The Department feels that it has an obligation to both its graduate students and the undergraduates who are taught by graduate students to train graduate students not only in how to do philosophical research but also in how to teach philosophy. (Only MA students are eligible to teach and therefore only MA students may take the teaching preparation curriculum.) The Department has developed an extensive program to prepare graduate students become excellent teachers. This program is built around a series of three courses: Phil 8970, Phil 8980, and Phil 8985.

You may want to read this excellent article from The Chronicle of Higher Education about how departments who are hiring faculty view applicants who had no teaching experience as graduate students.

Phil 8970
In Philosophy 8970, Teaching Philosophy, students master the content of the course most of them will teach (Phil 1010, Critical Thinking) and learn how to:

  • prepare and deliver lectures,
  • design and implement syllabi that meet university, college, and departmental requirements,
  • develop and grade objective tests, quizzes, and essays.

They do this by sitting in on a section of Critical Thinking taught by a full-time faculty member, taking all of the exams and argument evaluation exercises for that class, and meeting for a third hour each week to review and discuss their observations with peers. Students wishing to be eligible to teach another class (such as Introduction to Philosophy) are required to sit in on a section of that class.

To be eligible to teach their own classes, graduate students must complete 18 hours of graduate coursework in philosophy, earn a B or higher in Philosophy 8970, and be recommended by the Director of Graduate Students, Dr. Tim O’Keefe. Brains and Behavior Fellows who do not earn a B in 8970 in the fall of their first year or the fall of their second year will not be funded in their third year.

Phil 8980
During their first semester teaching their own class, students register for Philosophy 8980, Teaching Philosophy Practicum. In this class, they meet weekly with their peers and the Coordinator of Graduate Teaching to discuss pedagogical issues and administrative matters, and to give each other the support needed to teach successfully. Students typically teach between 2 and 6 credit hours each semester.

Phil 8985
During subsequent semesters of teaching, graduate student teachers register for Phil 8985, Advanced Teaching Philosophy Practicum, in which they develop a Teaching Portfolio (an essential element of a professional dossier). Philosophy 8985 provides an opportunity for students to meet requirements for a Certificate of Teaching Excellence from the College of Arts & Sciences. Award of this Certificate is noted on official transcripts.

This program is supervised by the Coordinator of Graduate Teaching, Dr. Sandra Dwyer. Feel free to e-mail Dr. Dwyer for more information.