Local Participating Universities & Programs

Overview

Photo of students in a classroom.

Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland enjoy superb research training but have limited opportunities to teach. Academic institutions value real classroom teaching over experience as a Teaching Assistant. The Teaching Fellows program gives trainees a hands-on teaching experience with mentorship and coaching from exemplary undergraduate teaching faculty at local institutions. This experience prepares them for teaching responsibilities at academic faculty positions.

The Collaborative Teaching Fellowship Experience

Interview with a Collaborative Teaching Fellow

Photo of Interviewee
Aparna Shah, PhD
2016 Collaborative Teaching Fellow @ Goucher College Center for Natural Sciences
(CHE 345 Biochemistry of Gene Expression course)
Postdoctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Department of Neuroscience
Click to read interview.

What did you enjoy most about your Collaborative Teaching Fellowship at Goucher?
I really enjoyed interacting one-on-one with students. The course that I taught was designed around the discussion of research articles so I was able to help teach students what academic and real-world research is like. I also guest lectured for a Psychology course. I don’t have a psychology background but was able to share the neuroscience perspective on topics that they were studying. I created an activity where the students sketched comic strips of some of the concepts from the lesson material, and they responded positively to the exercise. The teacher was pleased with the activity and plans to incorporate it into the course.

Was your mentor helpful?
My mentor sat in on the lectures I led and provided useful feedback. She noticed that I was standing in one place throughout the duration of the lecture and suggested moving around the room and other such techniques for capturing students’ attention. She also walked me through student evaluation feedback forms and gave advice on improving my teaching skills. Also, before leading the guest lecture for the psychology course, I attended some of the professor’s lectures and she shared some books on teaching skills (‘Make It Stick’ - http://makeitstick.net/ & ‘Teaching Naked’ - http://teachingnaked.com/ ). She, too, was very open to providing feedback on my performance and agreed to provide a letter of support in the future.

Do you want to pursue a career in teaching? If so, do you feel more prepared after your Collaborative Teaching fellowship?
Although I had previous teaching experience (primarily through mentoring and training high school and undergraduate students in the lab), I think this fellowship was a great opportunity to gain experience teaching in higher education. I envision a career that emphasizes teaching and research equally. I definitely feel more prepared to pursue a teaching career in higher education after my Collaborative Teaching Fellowship. I was also able to take advantage of the Teaching Academy ‘Teaching Topics and Tapas course’ and found Ann Riley’s talk on Teaching Styles very useful. I highly recommend her course at the Bloomberg SPH, ‘Teaching at the University Level’ for students interested in teaching careers since you learn about syllabus development, writing a teaching philosophy and eventually develop a teaching portfolio.

Any advice for future Collaborative Teaching Fellows?
I would advise other Collaborative Teaching Fellows to keep in mind that teaching is quite different from presenting a talk at a scientific seminar. The pace at which you talk is key. It is crucial to pause and give students some time to digest the information, take notes and ask questions. Unlike with seminar talks, repeating yourself frequently and using different words may be necessary. In other words, even if you have presented talks frequently as a scientist, your experience as a Collaborative Teaching Fellow will be helpful. It may be a good idea to record your lectures so that you can go back to them to learn how you could improve your teaching skills. I also found it important to set my own deadlines and not to rely solely on deadlines set by my mentor. It helped me manage time so I could be better prepared for lectures. I would also advise fellows to discuss the fellowship responsibilities beforehand with their mentor and to try to set a schedule for receiving assignments, grading assignments and other expected duties. I had to juggle postdoc responsibilities with teaching and planning helped a lot. Luckily, I have a supportive advisor at Hopkins who was open to my pursuing opportunities to gain teaching skills, which helped a lot with juggling my research and the Collaborative Teaching Fellowship.

Interview with a Collaborative Teaching Fellow

Photo of Interviewee
George Umanah, PhD
2016 Collaborative Teaching Fellow @ Loyola University Maryland Department of Biology
(BL118 Cell and Molecular Biology course)
Research Associate, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Department of Neurology, SOM ICE Neuroregeneration (2016)
Click to read interview.

What did you enjoy most about your Collaborative Teaching Fellowship at Loyola?
I really enjoyed interacting with students during my office hours. The course has three exams before the final exam and a grade below a C is considered deficient. Some students were very open about their difficulties with the course content and I was able to help some move from a failing grade to a B minus or better which was nice.

Was your mentor helpful?
My mentor was very helpful. She sat in on my classes and provided feedback on my teaching style and course material important to emphasize for students. Before I started teaching classes, I sat in on her classes to get a sense of her teaching style and to keep my delivery of the class material consistent.

Do you want to pursue a career in teaching? If so, do you feel more prepared after your Collaborative Teaching fellowship?
I hope to get an academic position in research and teaching, and definitely feel more prepared after my Collaborative Teaching Fellowship. My previous teaching experience was primarily teaching lab courses with 20 to 25 students, and the lecture I taught had 90 students. I learned to interact with a wide variety of students – some already familiar with the course content, some new to the material and some that didn’t care. The fellowship provided me with useful practice in communicating with a diverse audience without alienating them all. Overall, the Collaborative Teaching Fellowship met my expectations. I hoped to be able to guide a group of students and I was able to interact with and mentor a group of students majoring in biology.

Any advice for future Collaborative Teaching Fellows?
I would tell future fellows not to be intimidated by a lack of experience and that practice is the best way to learn. Teaching students in the lab is much different than in a large classroom. It’s important to make sure the content is clear and that you are prepared for their questions. Many students will question your content and ask for lots of details on the information you present in the course.

Preparing to Apply

Potential Collaborative Teaching Fellowship program applicants are encouraged to participate in the JHU Teaching Academy or equivalent pedagogy training before applying. The selection committee and host institutions prefer applicants with previous experience serving as a teaching assistant or leading courses in the specific topic areas indicated in their applications.

Who We Are

The Professional Development and Career Office, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
University of Maryland School of Medicine Office of Postdoctoral Scholars

The Collaborative Teaching Fellows Program is managed by:

JHM Professional Development and Career Office
1830 E. Monument Street, Suite 2-107
Baltimore, MD 21205
Phone: 410.502.2804
Fax: 410.614.3386
E-mail: pphelps4@jhmi.edu