Academic | Teaching Demonstration

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Teaching Demonstrations

Teaching demos are standard at teaching-focused institutions and may turn up on R1-type campus visits depending on the department and position you apply to. In some cases, the teaching demonstration replaces the job talk, and sometimes, it is required in addition to the job talk. For a teaching-focused institution, the most important element of the on-campus interview is the teaching demonstration.

The format of the teaching demo can vary, so be sure to ask what is expected if that information is not provided to you. It may happen in an existing classroom borrowed from a colleague’s regularly scheduled class, around a “class” that includes students who were specifically assembled for the purpose of your demonstration, or just a demonstration of your skills given to a group of faculty that serves as a mock class.

Researching the Institution

  • The most important thing is to determine the general academic level of the student body. Do not assume that the students at the teaching demo will behave the same way as students you have taught in the past.
  • Once you know the topic you will be presenting on, you can research similar courses at the institution and get a better idea of typical readings and assignments.

Planning your Demonstration Format

  • View the teaching demo as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of pedagogy (e.g. active learning techniques) and your teaching style.
  • It would be wise to steer clear of an all-lecture or an all-discussion format.
  • Unless given specific instructions, plan to prepare a strong but short lecture, followed by a highly structured discussion or a set of activities that follow the lecture.
  • Even if lecturing is not your normal mode of teaching, utilizing it somewhat during the demonstration allows you to demonstrate your classroom authority.
  • You may be asked to suggest a reading for the class. Keep the assigned reading relevant and relatively short.

Planning your Topic

  • The department may assign you a topic, or they may ask you to choose one.
  • Whatever the case, try not to use your research as your topic, as this is something your colleagues will have already heard about in your job or chalk talk.
  • Faculty often must teach outside of their research areas. A teaching demo is a chance for you to show your willingness and ability to teach on other topics.

During the Demonstration

  • Look up from your notes, keep a close eye on them, but do not read them like a script.
  • Make eye contact with the students.
  • Keep a close eye on students during the demonstration and look for signs of boredom or confusion.
  • Encourage classroom participation. Your goal is to draw students out and interact with them like a real professor.
  • A strong ending is key to a strong performance: End your demonstration with a good wrap-up, in which you help students understand what they learned, practiced, and discussed that day.

Additional Resources

The Teaching Demonstration: What Faculty Expect and How to Prepare for This Aspect of the Job Interview
Essay on giving a teaching demo
Using powerpoint for your teaching demo