The Department of Psychology offers many opportunities for graduate students to develop their teaching skills. This is particularly important for experimental psychology students, many of whom will be seeking academic positions. The department has an excellent track record for training students in teaching, as evidenced by students’ teacher course evaluations and teaching awards.
For many students, teaching experience begins as a teaching assistant. Linked to the student’s funding, this involves helping a faculty member with his or her course. This may include proctoring exams, grading, holding office hours, or running in-class activities.
Research Laboratory Instructors
Some students serve as instructors in the undergraduate Research Laboratory course and teach 10 to 15 students in a guided practicum context. This is also linked to students’ funding. Research Laboratory instructors are responsible for communicating assignments to students, guiding them through projects, and grading their work. These instructors are closely supervised by a faculty member who designs the syllabus and the projects.
Teaching of Psychology Course (PY695)
All experimental students are required to take Teaching of Psychology and to teach a section of Introductory Psychology concurrently. In this course, students receive guidance and feedback in syllabus preparation, lecture preparation and delivery, test construction, and grading during the semester in which they teach their first full course. This is a high-quality experience that greatly helps students develop their teaching skills. Students usually take this course during their third year.
After completing Teaching of Psychology, students are eligible to teach full courses with minimal guidance, as part of their funding. Courses graduate students have taught include Introductory Psychology, Elementary Statistics in Psychology, Social Psychology, Psychology of Gender, Psychology of Aging, and General Experimental Psychology.
The Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) offers free workshops for graduate and faculty instructors in many types of teaching technologies including Blackboard Learn, Panopto, Turnitin, the clicker system, and others. In addition, CIT can help with video-editing, podcasting, and other creative teaching tools. Learn more about CIT’s services at cit.ua.edu.