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Quality of Teaching and Research Duties

The duties assigned to a graduate student must be appropriate to the student’s academic career.  Teaching fellowships should be viewed as part of the educational experience; the University is training teachers as well as scholars. The graduate student must not be treated as a method for covering the necessary classes or laboratories.  Variety of training and growth in command of the particular discipline should determine the assignments.

Research activities should be appropriate to the student’s academic interests, and assignments should offer a variety of opportunities. The student should not be considered a research assistant and just another ‘pair of hands’ for the laboratory.

The DGS should be aware of the work assignments of each student and make suggestions for changes, if necessary.

The DGS may also want to contact or have the student contact the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching.  Founded in 1986, the Center for Teaching (CFT) works to foster and sustain a culture at Vanderbilt that practices, values, and rewards university teaching and learning as vital forms of scholarship. They are eager to work with you as you support the teaching and professional development of graduate students. The staff page of CFT web site provides information about liaison areas that will help you determine whom to contact when consulting with the CFT about graduate student teaching and professional development in your department or program.

The CFT offers a variety of programs and services to meet the needs of graduate students entering the teaching ranks. Programs specifically designed for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows include:

  • Teaching Assistant Orientation (TAO) prepares graduate students to assume their teaching duties with confidence by engaging them in interactive sessions about teaching methods and resources.
  • Resources for International Teaching Assistants that cover teaching in the U.S. Classroom and and the process of completing language evaluations
  • The Certificate in College Teaching has been designed to help graduate students, professional students, and post-doctoral fellows develop and refine their teaching skills through teaching activities, each consisting of inquiry, experimentation, and reflection phases. Participants who complete the program receive a Teaching Certificate from the Graduate School and the Center for Teaching.
  • Graduate Student Teaching Event for Professional Development (GradSTEP), held in January each year,invites all graduate and professional students, as well as post-doctoral fellows, for a day of exploration of teaching and professional development issues across the disciplines.
  • SoTL Scholars Program introduces selected graduate students and post-docs from Vanderbilt to the principles and practices of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, an international, multidisciplinary field of disciplinary specialists studying student learning. SoTL (pronounced "sō-tul" in the U.S.) is a synthesis of teaching, learning, and research in higher education that aims to bring a scholarly lens—the curiosity, the inquiry, the rigor, the disciplinary variety—to what happens in the classroom.
  • BOLD Fellows Program helps graduate student/faculty teams build expertise in developing online instructional modules grounded in good course design principles and our understanding of how people learn.
  • Graduate Teaching Fellows is a valuable professional development experience for graduate students interested in a career that involves teaching and/or faculty development.
  • Additionally, the CFT organizes a number of workshops focusing on teaching and include graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and invited guests.