Adapted from the “Applying to Teaching-based Professorships and How They Differ from Research-Based Job Applications” workshop by Dr. Sydella Blatch, November 7, 2014
For those who want to focus on teaching science to undergraduate students more than running a research-focused laboratory, a teaching-based professorship may be the right fit. But once you find a teaching opportunity, what does a teaching application include, and how does it differ from a research-centered application? Below, we highlight the key elements of teaching philosophies and teaching-based research statements from last month’s academic jobs workshop by Dr. Sydella Blatch, assistant professor of biology at Stevenson University.
A teaching-based application typically consists of the following:
- Cover letter
- Curriculum Vitae (CV)
- Teaching Philosophy
- Research Statement
- Three or four letters of recommendation
While all five sections are important, the teaching philosophy and research statement are unique for teaching-based positions compared to those that are research-centered. The following excerpts from Dr. Blatch’s workshop highlight important points to keep in mind while creating a standout application package.
In your teaching philosophy, you should:
- Describe how you teach
- Paint a picture of what your classroom is or will be like
- Interactive teaching technique(s), such as…
- Active learning, Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL), case studies, group quizzes, etc.
- There are tons of activities for biology courses on the Web
- Assessment of students and yourself
- For ideas, search the Internet for “formative assessment techniques”
- How you help students when they need help
- List of courses you can teach (that the school has and that you could create)
- Include institution-specific connections, as much as possible
- Addressing the student body, typical student needs
- Particular missions, philosophies of the school
- This is part of why we dissect the job ad and research the institution!
A teaching-based research statement will focus on:
- Student-centered (main goal is for students to learn, not to advance the field)
- Focus on future projects with students, not on past research or your field
- Primary goal is not to educate about your field and why we must advance it.
- Primary goal is not to elaborate too much on your past research accomplishments.
- Focus on how students fit into your future research plans
- Describe how much training students need to work with you
- coursework, level in college, previous lab experience?
- Describe how long (number of semesters) students need to work with you in order to complete their own project
- What skills will students gain?
- How will you mentor and train them?
- Institution-specific information where applicable
- Map out a sample project or two, and mention future projects as well
Common pitfalls of teaching-based research statements include:
- Not sustainable for the institution (time you have, equipment/facilities, animals, labor available/students, training required, etc.)
- Writing is too technical, too detailed
- Does not show a focus on the student, but shows a focus on the research
- Provide just enough background needed to understand projects with students
For a full copy of the “Applying to Teaching-based Professorships and How They Differ from Research-Based Job Applications” workshop notes, please contact Yvette Pittman (Yvette.Pittman@nih.gov).