Skip to main content

This expert advice comes from Frederic A. Spangler, Ph.D.

Many students may be asked or required to teach while in graduate school. This is often funded in the form of teaching assistantships and teaching fellowships. You are encouraged to apply for these programs as there is no better way to solidify command of your subject area than by teaching it. Advantageous? Definitely!

Pedagogy is the art, science, and methodology of teaching. Your teaching style and strategy have to be adapted to the subject, to your classroom strengths and weaknesses, and especially to the nature and level of your students (as Econ 101 vs. Econ 301, required vs. elective course, or general vs. pre-professional students).

Whether presenting didactic lectures, leading classroom discussions, or assigning and monitoring student teamwork, your goals are the same. The key to it all is preparation and more preparation. Students catch on immediately if you do not know your subject. You have to be prepared not only to deliver meaningful, logical lectures but also for in depth and often unexpected questions. Additionally, the more enthusiasm you show toward your subject and toward your students' development, the more effective your teaching will be.

When developing your own unique teaching style early-on, remember back to those teachers and professors that you learned the most from. Try to emulate their methodology and techniques that are relevant to your current situation. As a guiding principle for lectures and discussions, present the facts, clearly explain them, provide examples and illustrations when appropriate, and ask for and respond to questions and comments from your students.


About the author: Dr. Spangler has over 17 years of editorial experience and is a former college professor, cancer researcher. He has taught pre-professional undergraduate and graduate students, and he served as Director of the USGS/ ProQuest partnership, and Manager of Special Projects at ProQuest.