Welcome to the Graduate Teaching Blog!

This blog is a space created for graduate students, by graduate students, for us to share answers to common teaching questions. In these pages, you will find suggestions for innovative, evidence-based teaching strategies presented in the context of our own graduate teaching experiences. We, the Graduate Teaching Consultants, hope these posts enrich your teaching practice!

Including Diverse Role Models in STEM Curricula

November 18th, 2021

three students working in a STEM lab to complete an experiment. Two students in the front are holding test tubes and one student in the back is recording data.

Including Diverse Role Models in STEM Curricula

Contributed by Bryanne McDonough

In most areas of the STEM workforce, racial minorities, people with disabilities, and women are still underrepresented [1,2]. As college educators, we have a critical role to play in retaining and encouraging underrepresented students in STEM. One way to accomplish this is by creating a sense of belonging through adding diverse voices to our curricula and classroom. It is not always immediately obvious where to add diversity in a STEM course, as we most often teach about facts and data rather than people. However, instructors can make a difference by highlighting the contributions of individuals to the facts and data, and help ameliorate identity threats along the way. Read More

Jump-starting Discussion Using Images (Part 2)

June 22nd, 2021

In the foreground, people sit at desks with their hands raised. In front of them a woman in a white sweater stands against a green chalkboard.

Graduate Teaching Blog Post

Contributed by Phillippa Pitts

(5 minute read)

This post is a follow-up to my entry last week, where I introduced two quick approaches to teaching with images in ways that will get students talking and thinking about your course content in a new way. In this post, I’d like to introduce you to one more technique which uses image-based discussion to develop a slew of academic skills: critical thinking, argumentation, and language development among them. It’s been used to teach foreign language skills, build empathy, and even scaffold scientific observation. More

Jump-starting Discussion Using Images

June 16th, 2021

Overhead view of photographs spread out on a table. On the lower edge, a person can be seen: we look down at their brown hair and see their hands holding up two photographs from the pile.

Graduate Teaching Blog Post

Contributed by Phillippa Pitts

(5 minute read)

Q:I've heard that starting class by asking students to discuss an image can help get students talking, even in a non-arts based course. What are your suggestions for teaching with images?

A: In almost every conversation that I’ve heard about “opening up a good discussion” and “encouraging students to speak more,” someone suggests discussing an image. Usually it is because, in their words, “there are no wrong answers.” But—as anyone who has optimistically put up an image and heard only crickets in response knows—there do seem to be wrong questions.  More

Keeping Breakout Rooms On Task

June 11th, 2021

A woman sits at a desktop computer. On the screen is a video meeting with a large grid of many participants' video feeds.

Graduate Teaching Blog Post

Contributed by Phillippa Pitts

(4 minute read)

Q: I hear students benefit from small group work and appreciate using Zoom breakout rooms. But how will I know that they’re staying on task if I’m not there?

A: This is a question that came up frequently in the physical classroom. Now, in the Zoom world, it feels even more pressing. Without the ability to walk around and casually listen in on small group discussions—or even just stand at the head of the classroom and see whether or not students appeared to be on task—it can be very unnerving to release your students into a void and hope that they’re working away successfully. More

Practice, Practice, Practice

April 23rd, 2021

Someone drawing the human figure with a pencil

Graduate Teaching Blog Post

Contributed by Ben Suitt

(2 minute read)

Q: My students did poorly on the essay questions of the midterm despite acing my multiple choice quizzes. How do I help them do as well on the final essay exam as they did on my quizzes?

A: Seeing a disconnect between class performance in your sections versus the first major test of the semester can be disheartening for even the most seasoned instructors. Surely, if they’re acing the pop quizzes... Read More