What is undergraduate teaching?
Motivated undergraduates have the opportunity to assist in the teaching of lecture or laboratory sections in the Department of Biological Sciences as a peer mentor. Peer mentors may serve in a number of capacities including but not limited to; support to instructors during lecture and/or lab, running workshops, discussions or problem solving sessions, providing guidance and mentorship on how to succeed in college, and holding office hours. As peer mentors gain experience, they usually assume more responsibility as appropriate.
What are the benefits of undergraduate teaching?
Undergraduate instruction allows students to learn first hand what teaching is like while also providing valuable experience of a type that very few students get to have. The chance to provide this kind of help is very rewarding and can help a great deal in developing self-confidence. This leadership experience also makes an important addition to resumes and applications for employment and professional schools after graduation.
What does a position entail?
The specific requirements of your role will vary depending on the course you are assisting. Generally, peer mentors are required to attend the laboratory or lecture they are assisting, along with weekly preparatory meetings with your instructor of record. It is also expected you will be familiar with the content of your course, and prepare and review that content prior to your weekly prep meetings. Your instructor may also require you to hold office hours for students and/or complete a reflective journal to document your progress and growth as a peer mentor.
Additional Training Opportunities - SCEN130 and SCEN230
There are two peer mentor training courses available through ISLL, "The Science of Learning for Peer Mentors" (SCEN130) which is offered in the Fall for 1 credit, and Discipline-based Leadership & Mentoring (SCEN230) which is offered in the Spring for 1 credit. It is highly recommended that all peer mentors take these courses in order to have the appropriate training in effective teaching methods.
How does a student get involved?
Students can participate in undergraduate teaching in two different ways. The first is by enrollment in BISC 422, Undergraduate Teaching Experience, which is a one to two-credit course that may be taken one time. Students who have completed BISC 422 once but wish to continue their peer mentor role may enroll in SCEN330 for one to two credits. In addition, students who have successfully completed a semester of BISC 422 may be eligible to receive pay for teaching. Department policy is firm that students must have been enrolled in BISC 422 before being eligible for pay. Please note that paid positions are very limited at this time.
Those interested in undergraduate teaching must complete this teaching experience application form online.
Dates to Remember
Students cannot register themselves for BISC 422. In addition to the online application listed above, students who wish to teach in a specific course are encouraged to speak with the professor in charge of that course. Faculty typically begin to recruit peer mentors 1-2 months prior to the start of the semester, and peer mentors are placed no later than 1 week prior to the start of the semester. This may inform you of when to contact the professor you would like to work with, and when to complete your application. We will register students after their application is approved and they are placed in a course.
Requirements and Guidelines for Selection of Peer Mentors for Undergraduate Teaching
- A student must have taken the course which they would teach or a higher level version of the course (e.g. peer mentors for 106 may have completed BISC 306 instead, peer mentors for 104 must have completed either BISC 207 or BISC 208).
- A grade of B or better must have been earned in the course.
- All students accepted for undergraduate teaching must have a GPA of at least 3.00 in Biology courses and a 2.75 GPA overall.
- The director for BISC422 will examine the student's record for the above criteria. A student whose record is satisfactory will be referred to appropriate faculty members for placement into specific lab sections.
Questions? Contact the BISC 422 director, Professor DeVito at email@example.com