CID Summer 2005 Convening: Developing Effective Teachers

Topic 2: Willing to Teach

The Ohio State University -- Department of Mathematics

This Snapshot describes how the doctoral program in the Ohio State Math Department helps motivate new teachers to cultivate effective teaching practices.

Summary Description

We believe students are motivated by tasks which allow them to feel both capable and challenged.

For graduate students new to our department, we require 45 hours of training prior to teaching. For more experienced teachers, we offer assignments involving new content, more advanced students, or more responsibility.

We evaluate the efforts of all graduate TAs through regular feedback in various forms. We recognize the efforts of our best teachers through our annual graduate student teaching awards.

Tools and Resources

  • Math TA practicum
  • midquarter student evaluations
  • videotaping
  • observations by the TA support staff
  • Spoken English Certification for International TAs
  • Peer mentors
  • Mathematics Teaching Support Website
  • Preparing Future Faculty program
  • University Faculty and TA Development Office

  • Program Context

    Our department requires students to teach for at least three quarters in order to earn a Ph.D. degree. In practice, students will teach much more. Because OSU is such a large university, staffing needs are significant. In fact, the majority of graduate student support available is in the form of teaching assignments.

    Teaching duties can be time-consuming as well as rewarding, so we allow for respite. Students at a critical point in their program can apply for a Special Graduate Assignment (SGA), which allows them one quarter of TA stipend without teaching duties. Also, our participation in VIGRE has allowed support for more of our students with less teaching.

    Goals for Students

    Most importantly, we expect our graduate students to be effective teachers and become responsible members of the teaching community.

    We also expect each student to gain a variety of teaching experience. Specifically, we create an environment in which a student can gain experience in teaching

  • a variety of content
  • diverse populations, in regards to ability, majors, and interests, and
  • in a variety of roles, such as
  • a recitation instructor
  • an instructor of an individual course
  • a lecturer for a large course, with TA supervision duties
  • a "master teacher" assisting with our Math TA Practicum
  • a recitation instructor for a critical graduate-level course (CID initiative)
  • a peer mentor, as a member of the MAP committee (CID initiative)
  • In addition, we hope each student will develop independence, confidence, and maturity in their teaching, and learn to collaborate effectively with colleagues.


    "It is essential to recognize the uniqueness of personality and teaching style in the transformation from novice to expert teacher. By enhancing individual strengths and minimizing weaknesses AND providing pedagogical tools and new experiences, our students are empowered to become effective teachers.

    Upon graduation, our students have taught on average seven different courses in three different teaching environments. With this exposure, they have an advantage in the competition for college teaching positions."

    --Cindy Bernlohr, Math TA Coordinator

    Contact Information

    For more information, please contact

    Peter March, Professor and Chair.

    How Do We Know?

    If the goal of producing effective, responsible teachers is met, then the following indicators will demonstrate that the department has succeeded:

  • Student evaluations, written feedback
  • Faculty and staff observations
  • Comparison of student evaluation data (by course, by TA, by term)
  • Frequency, severity of student complaints
  • Annual review of each TA's teaching history and performance
  • Teaching awards and recognition (university and department)
  • Tracking TA participation in department and university teaching initiatives
  • Tracking alumni success in academia

  • Unanswered Questions

    Some questions our committee members are currently considering:

    What are the best ways help students develop independence, confidence, and maturity in their teaching, and how can we evaluate their progress toward this?

    Also, how do we best motivate our TAs who must teach as a degree requirement and for their support, but eventually desire a career outside of academia?

    Cindy Bernlohr leads a discussion with the new graduate TAs during summer training.
    Cindy Bernlohr leads a discussion with the new graduate TAs during summer training.

    This electronic portfolio was created using the KML Snapshot Tool™, a part of the KEEP Toolkit™,
    developed at the Knowledge Media Lab of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
    Terms of Use - Privacy Policy