Graduate Program

Teaching Guidelines

Requirements

After the first year, admission to the Ph.D. program in Classics carries with it a commitment of four years of full financial support subject only to the condition that the student is making satisfactory progress toward the doctoral degree. This position carries a fixed stipend (the same for all students) for nine months plus tuition and fees. In fulfillment of the requirements for the M.Phil. degree, all students must gain teaching experience as part of their graduate training. Moreover, the Classics Department considers Teaching Fellowships an important part of graduate training. They provide graduate students with an opportunity for essential practical experience under the training and sustained guidance of the faculty and are the principal means by which the university provides financial support for graduate education.

Teaching Fellows also benefit the department and Columbia as a whole, as they complement the faculty's teaching duties and enrich the instructional experience of undergraduates by providing a role model closer in training and career development to the undergraduates themselves. In sum, the goals of Teaching Fellowships are:

1. To provide graduate students with teaching experience both under the immediate tutelage of the faculty and independently;

2. To contribute to the department's and the College's educational program;

3. To enhance contact and communication between the departmental graduate and undergraduate consistencies.

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For Teaching Fellows who Assist Faculty

First year Teaching Fellows tend to be assigned to courses where they assist faculty. The faculty member teaching the class will determine the precise details of the duties to be undertaken. The following are standards which the faculty as a whole supports:

Teaching Fellows are expected to attend class regularly and do the following under the guidance of a faculty member:

1. Grading - Grade a significant portion of the homework, quizzes and examinations; grade papers (at the faculty member's discretion).

2. Other Responsibilities - Some Teaching Fellows are also asked to draft examinations and run a class web site.

3. Office Hours - Keep regular office hours to answer students' questions, and, in general, help those students who have difficulty keeping up with the class (at least one per week regularly set; one more may be needed to accommodate particular students' needs). However, it is not appropriate for Teaching Fellows to tutor undergraduates who fail to attend class, take quizzes or do their homework. [It is important for the faculty member and Teaching Fellow to establish under what conditions, for example, the Teaching Fellow will be asked to administer a make-up quiz or exam.]

4. Classroom Teaching - There is a great deal of variety in the kinds and amount of classroom teaching asked of first year Teaching Fellows. Common standards are therefore not easily prescribed, but in general the following applies:

· First Year Language Courses - In the first year language courses, the faculty member generally is present at every class, but opportunities for the Teaching Fellow to teach in front of the entire class in a gradual and continuous process should also be provided. The faculty member will offer regular advice outside class on how best to improve/develop teaching skills. The individual faculty member will determine the frequency of teaching opportunities, but in general first year teaching fellows might expect to teach for approximately 20 minutes in one class (usually the last session) per week. As the semester progresses, Teaching Fellows may be asked, at the faculty member's discretion, to teach for gradually lengthening periods, and to present more complex materials.

· Second Year Language Courses - In second year language courses, it has been a common practice for the Teaching Fellow to conduct alone the third, shorter meeting of the class (generally on Fridays) as a review session at the instructor's discretion. During this meeting, the Teaching Fellow goes over passages, which are particularly difficult, and provides grammatical reviews. In some classes, the grammatical subject to be covered is assigned in advance, and students are asked to prepare exercises, which are then reviewed in class.

· Translation Courses - In translation classes (e.g. Myth, Women in Antiquity, The Classical Tradition, etc.), the duties expected of Teaching Fellows will vary according to the nature of the specific course, but it is expected that Teaching Fellows will be fully integrated into the course activities. Teaching Fellows can be expected to grade exams and papers; to prepare materials for class (including slides and readings); to hold discussion sessions; to lecture on or present particular topics.

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For Teaching Fellows who Teach a Course Section

Second and third year Teaching Fellows generally teach introductory language courses and literature courses under the guidance of faculty members. Besides the obvious responsibilities of meeting class, being fully prepared, grading fairly, etc., the following should also be considered:

1. Syllabus Preparation - Prepare a detailed class syllabus; this should include a discussion of assignments and other requirements (e.g. class attendance), and a detailed description of how final grades will be computed to avoid disputes at the end.

2. Office Hours - Hold two office hours a week.

3. Problems - Seek the advice of a faculty member (or Director of Graduate Studies or Department Chair) immediately if any problem develops in the course, especially if it involves a student.

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Faculty Guidance and Evaluation

For Teaching Fellows who Assist Faculty

Faculty members should discuss before or at the beginning of the semester the class syllabus and the expected contributions of the Teaching Fellow to the class. The faculty member should arrange to observe the Teaching Fellow as he\she teaches, not only at the beginning of the course, but throughout the semester, so as to be able to provide guidance and feedback.

At the end of the semester, the faculty member should write an evaluation of the Teaching Fellow, which includes a review of all the Teaching Fellow's contribution to the class: class lectures and presentations, grading, hand-outs and other special assignments, etc. This evaluation should be discussed with the Teaching Fellow, before being turned in to be included in the graduate student's file.

For Teaching Fellows who Teach a Course Section

During the semester before the Teaching Fellow is to teach his\her class, he\she should choose a faculty mentor in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. The faculty mentor and the Teaching Fellow should meet as much as necessary as the Teaching Fellow organizes the course, plans the class readings, syllabus, exams, etc. It is felt by some Teaching Fellows that a class visit by a faculty member early in the semester may upset the position of the Teaching Fellow with respect to the students; yet a visit later in the semester may be too late to address a problem. Hence, it is important that the Teaching Fellow have the help of a faculty member as the class is being planned. During the semester of actual teaching, the faculty member and Teaching Fellow should continue these meetings as needed.

The faculty member should also observe the actual class taught by the Teaching Fellow at least twice, at times agreed upon by the Teaching Fellow. After each class, the faculty member and the Teaching Fellow should meet to discuss the class. At the end of the semester, the faculty member should write an evaluation for the Teaching Fellow's file, which considers not only the class visits, but also the entire process, from planning to final examination.

The student evaluations of the course will be made available to the Teaching Fellow to examine. Those evaluations will also be available to the Director of Graduate Studies, the Chair, and the Teaching Fellow's faculty mentor. Where appropriate, the Teaching Fellow is free to discuss the responses in the evaluations with the Director of Graduate Studies, the Chair or the faculty mentor.

For the first-year language courses:

First-year language courses are departmental courses, with a common textbook. They must be closely coordinated because all the students who emerge from the different sections must have acquired the same information. It is expected therefore that the faculty member teaching one of the sections will be the mentor of the Teaching Fellows teaching the other sections. Hence, he\she will meet with the Teaching Fellows in the Spring before the course begins to guide the course planning; will conduct meetings during the teaching semester to discuss common issues; will observe the Teaching Fellows in the classroom; will write the evaluations, etc.

When all sections of a beginning language course are taught by graduate students (e.g. the Intensive sections and the 1101 sections offered in the Spring semester), then the Director of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the graduate students, will assign a faculty mentor who has had recent experience in teaching that particular course.

In addition, there are several publications on teaching techniques. One which might be particularly helpful is First Day to Final Grade: A Graduate Student's Guide to Teaching by A. Curzan and L. Damour (Michigan, 2000). Copies are available in the Departmental Office.

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  • Contact Info

  • Department of Classics
    1130 Amsterdam Avenue
    617 Hamilton Hall, MC 2861
    New York, NY 10027

  • Phone: (212) 854-3902
    Fax: (212) 854-7856
    Email: classics@columbia.edu