Cognate in College Teaching

Description The Cognate in College Teaching is essentially a minor in college level teaching; this minor is given in association with a PhD degree only (not with a Master's); it is not a stand-alone degree. The purpose of the Cognate is to prepare future faculty for their role as teachers. This experience can make the student more marketable, and can make the transition from student to researcher/teacher less difficult. This program enhances both the teaching and research roles of new faculty: research has shown that new faculty fail most often because they are not "teaching-ready", and this greatly detracts from their ability to do research in the early years.

For the most recent description of the program, check the web page: Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

Students cannot officially begin the cognate until they pass their qualifying exams. However, they should begin taking some of the courses before that to test their interest in a teaching career. Students interested in the program should understand that this will add some time to their tenure as graduate students, although the time will be spread out over several years (see the timeline below).

Requirements The Cognate in College Teaching requires the completion of 12 credits and emphasizes the development of classroom teaching skills in a specific field or discipline. Requirements include:

  • Core Courses (4 credits from the 950 series of courses, including GRAD 950)
  • Field and disciplinary studies courses (4 credits)
  • College Teaching Praxis (4 credits). Students register for GRAD 990 during the summer before teaching

There currently exists one discipline-specific course: Physics Research & Teaching Seminar (PHY 806), which carries one credit and is required of all physics TAs. Based on student interest we can offer a reading course on issues associated with college level physics education for the remaining two credits.

Grad 990: Teaching Praxis requires a student to teach one three-credit course. The student must take full control of the class (i.e., design the syllabus, choose the book, write the tests).

The choice of which course a student will teach depends greatly on the talents and interests of the students. However, in general we would expect that students would teach introductory courses of small size (30 students or less).

As part of Grad 990, students will create a teaching portfolio that includes a statement of their teaching philosophy and methods, syllabi, tests, evaluations, etc. Students will attend a few classes to learn how to create their portfolio.

Sample Timeline

1st year: physics teaching seminar (1 credit); Grad 950 (1 credit); physics courses; TA
2nd year: Grad 950 (1 credit); physics courses; TA
3rd year: Grad 950 (1 credit); physics courses; RA
4th year: physics education reading course (2 credits); research
5th year: research, Grad 990 (4 credits)

Officially beginning the Cognate: A student can officially begin the cognate only after they have been advanced to candidacy. They need to meet with the Physics Cognate Advisor (currently Prof. Meredith) and their research advisor to map out a timeline and make sure that research effort and cognate effort are both possible.

Financial Support: There are several possible means for support of students while they are teaching. Courses taught through DCE (summer or night time), College for Lifelong Learning, and courses at other local colleges generate revenue that could pay the student and their tuition. It should not be expected that research grants support a student for the time that they spend on teaching. The Teaching Excellence Program is also available to help find funding for students taking Grad 990. We expect that teaching (Grad 990) will be a half-time job