By Tek Lamichhane, Ph.D.
On Aug 6, 2012, Dr. Sydella Blatch, a former postdoctoral fellow in NICHD and currently an assistant professor of biology at Stevenson University, gave a very useful seminar about the teaching-based professorship application. Dr. Blatch shared her experiences not only with job applications but also with unique student-oriented responsibilities in teaching-based colleges. The workshop was organized through the NICHD Office of Education.
While application documents are similar between research-based and teaching-based schools, the application submissions should include a different focus and content. Dr. Blatch primarily discussed applications to schools with undergraduate and master’s degree programs in which faculty divide their time into 60-80% instructional activity, 15-35% research/scholarly activity, and 5-25% service activity. During the workshop, we focused on how to write effective teaching and research statements.
Before applying for the job, you should be ready to address what the institution is looking for. Dr. Blatch suggests that we gather additional information about the school, return to and dissect the ad, and develop a list of sought-after attributes so that we can fit the specificities of the position and institution.
In the teaching statement, we should speak to institute-specific needs as much as possible by addressing the student body, typical student needs, and the particular mission and philosophy of the school. Overrepresentation of research in the statement without mentioning teaching technique and classroom style can jeopardize your application.
The research statement should be less technical and more student-oriented. You should understand that your main focus is student learning, not advancing your particular scientific field of interest. Importantly, the research statements must fit the goals and facilities of the school. Without elaborating too much about past research accomplishments, future projects should be focused with the students who might have very little experience and knowledge about the science in mind.
This workshop was very helpful for building a solid teaching-based application as I would not have known this crucial information if I had not attended. I highly recommend that anyone who is interested in the teaching-based academic field attend these types of workshops in the future.