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Pedagogical Training for PhD Students

The English Department gives continuing attention to the pedagogical training of Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs); this training includes courses on pedagogy and an extensive system of mentoring. Your teaching assignments will vary according to your degree program, your progress within the program, the availability of courses, and enrollment patterns in undergraduate courses. Language and Literature PhD students usually teach first-and second-year writing courses (124, 125, 225) and other language or literature courses. English and Women's Studies students usually teach introductory courses for both the English and Women's Studies Department. English and Education students teach first-year writing courses (125) and, if appropriate and available, other introductory writing and literature courses.

In making these assignments, administrators attempt to consider the preferences and academic preparation of GSIs as well as the current needs of the curriculum. Generally Language and Literature and English and Women's Studies students begin teaching in their second year, usually by leading discussion sections attached to large undergraduate lecture courses. A required pedagogy course, taught by one member of the Faculty, accompanies this initial teaching assignment; the course provides guidance in professional preparation for teaching undergraduate courses. This training includes Faculty visits to the GSI's section, help with designing courses and writing course descriptions and syllabuses, strategies for leading discussion sections, methods of grading, and the like. English and Education PhD students begin teaching in their first year.

Before any GSI teaches independently, he or she participates in several short preparatory meetings with the Director of the English Department Writing Program. These meetings begin in the Winter term for Fall teaching assignments of the next year; the meetings include a two day workshop before the beginning of the Fall term. This training is required of all GSIs new to teaching in the department. These meetings and workshops address issues particularly relevant to teaching at the first-year level.

When GSIs enter their second year of independent teaching they are supervised primarily by those members of the Faculty who are also supervising their exams and dissertation. These Faculty members will guide the student's professional development by mentoring the individual's performance as both a doctoral student and teacher.

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