Teaching by Graduate Students

An essential element of graduate education at Dartmouth is the experience gained in teaching. Therefore, at least one term of teaching is required of all Ph.D. students.

Evidence of the successful completion of this requirement will be indicated by the student having received a passing grade in Biology 169 (Supervised Teaching in Biology) or equivalent. This teaching requirement is normally completed by serving as teaching assistant for one term during the second year in the program. The nature of the term system at Dartmouth means that this obligation will normally be fulfilled in the summer, fall, winter, or spring term of the second year, depending on the course assigned, but may be completed later with the approval of the GC. When assisting in a course, a graduate student will be expected to devote about 200 hours per term to this responsibility, which includes time spent in the teaching laboratory or discussion sessions, grading papers, attending lectures, lab preparatory sessions, etc. Faculty member(s) in charge of a course cannot require that teaching assistant(s) contribute more than 200 hours per term. One term of teaching fulfills one of the seven courses required for the Ph.D. Under no circumstances may students opt out of this requirement by having their advisors use research grant funds, for example, to pay a substitute.

At the end of the first year, the Graduate Committee will distribute to the first year students a list of courses requiring a TA. Students will submit a ranked list of TA preferences. Teaching assignments will be made by the Graduate Committee in consultation with the faculty teaching the courses, taking into account student preferences. Subsequent responsibility for detailing TA teaching obligations (including such matters as examination and report grading, preparation of materials for the laboratory, lab and discussion responsibilities, etc.) rests with the professor(s) in charge of the course. Note that opportunities can arise from time to time for students wishing greater teaching experience to participate in more than the minimum one term requirement. However, this requires that adequate teaching positions are available to accommodate the interested student(s) and that the advisor agrees, in which case final approval of the arrangement by the Graduate Committee is required.

Teaching assistants are expected to begin their duties no more than one week prior to the start of a course, and they need to be available until the final grades are submitted, normally 1 week after the exam period. If, because of illness or some other legitimate reason, teaching assistants are unable to meet their teaching obligations, they should inform the appropriate faculty member so that adequate replacements can be found.

At the end of the teaching term, the professor in charge will:

  1. Report a grade (HP, P, LP, or NC) for the course Biology 169 (Supervised Teaching in Biology) to the Biology Office for the student(s) who acted as TA(s)
  2. Submit to the Biology Office a brief paragraph for placement in the student's folder, describing the student's teaching skills, especially noting any extraordinary ability (or any deficiency) that formed a basis for the grade. Such reports form a portion of the student's permanent record and could be quoted in subsequent letters of recommendation for faculty positions, etc. In instances of serious deficiency, the Graduate Committee can require that the teaching experience be repeated, but note that this will occur without the expenditure of additional program funds.

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