Graduate Teaching Program
Most graduate students in the Department of Mathematics at Vanderbilt University receive financial support in the form of a teaching assistantship. The duties and training of teaching assistants (TAs) are outlined below.
All first-year graduate students participate in a teacher training program which consists of the following components:
1. TAs proctor a two-hour evening tutoring session for calculus students each week for both semesters.
2. TAs provide limited one-on-one tutoring through Tutoring Services.
3. In the spring, the Teaching Seminar meets weekly to introduce the teaching program in our department, the resources available for teachers at Vanderbilt, and good teaching techniques.
SECOND- AND THIRD-YEAR TAs
In their second and third years at Vanderbilt, graduate students serve as teaching assistants for instructors in our first-year calculus courses. Students conduct two weekly problem sessions for the class, present an occasional lecture, assist the instructor in grading, and hold office hours. Before the beginning of the fall semester, the Center for Teaching conducts an orientation session for all new TAs in the College of Arts and Science.
FOURTH- AND FIFTH-YEAR TAs
In the fourth and fifth years, students with good evaluations may teach a first-year calculus course. Usually, teaching duties require about 12 hours a week. During their first year of independent teaching, TAs will be mentored by members of the Teaching Committee who will conduct class observations and offer support as needed.
EVALUATION OF TEACHING
Teaching performance is evaluated via student questionnaires in mid-semester and at the end of the semester. These evaluations are reviewed by the Associate Director of Graduate Studies, who makes recommendations on renewal of teaching assistantships. TAs interested in improving their teaching can ask to have faculty observation of their classes, videotaping, or Small Group Analyses.
TEACHING SKILLS FOR INTERNATIONAL TAs
The University’s Center for Teaching has a staff member devoted to the teaching needs of international teaching assistants, particularly those whose first language is not English. Teaching assistants who are experiencing language problems can participate in programs to improve their speaking and listening skills. In the past this program has proved to be a very effective means of improving language abilities.
Any questions about teaching by graduate students in Mathematics at Vanderbilt can be addressed to either Mike Mihalik, the Associate Director of Graduate Studies or Alexander Powell, the Director of Graduate Studies.