Saturday, August 1, 2009

Open questions: Teaching and research

My true passion is research. I especially enjoy experimental design and data interpretation and fantasizing about the broader applications of some result.

At this point, I'm somewhat indifferent toward classroom teaching.

Once upon a time, when I was still a young, timid grad student, I imagined that I would eventually end up teaching at a PUI with a research program. I later realized, partially because of something Bear told me, that I imagined that life because I didn't think I could be successful at a research university. Now, lest you think that I am against Ph.D.s at PUIs, I recognize there are wonderful reasons to pursue this avenue... just not for me.

Over the last couple of years, I have begun to define where I want my career to go--namely, an independent lab, most likely at a research university (although I have broadened my horizons a bit). I'm also thinking about what I need to get there.

Which brings me to today's questions for the blogosphere:
  1. For a faculty candidate at a research university, how much teaching experience is required/expected in (a) a college of arts and sciences where there are more undergraduate courses or (b) a medical school where course loads are generally lighter?
  2. How do I get teaching experience, especially when the department I'm currently in is far afield of my graduate work and of the topics I could envision myself teaching well?
My next job search is a few years down the road, but (a) I don't want to be figuring this stuff out during the application/interview process, (b) it takes time to find and line up such opportunities, and (c) time spent teaching would impact fellowship proposals and effort reporting.


Comrade PhysioProf said...

(1) (a) None. (b) None.

(2) You don't.

Aurora said...

It is generally a good idea to get some teaching experience. You can offer to lead a few labs for a course that has labs if you know the instructor. In some fields it is normal and expected for postdocs and even Ph.D. candidates to teach a few classes on their own. And it is usually built into the system. But if it isn't, then you have to look for opportunities. If you lead a student in any research project, however short, you can list it under teaching experience. It may be difficult to get an appointment in a department that emphasizes teaching without some prior teaching experience in this job market.