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.

2 comments:

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.