Building Practical, Evidence-Based Teaching Capacity in Tomorrow's Doctorates

By Benjamin Wiggins, PI

Future faculty can expect that they will instruct students from many diverse populations. While access to college science education has democratized, the methods used to teach these diverse cohorts of students are not always aligned with evidence-based best practices. This project implements and evaluates a training approach for future faculty that leverages best practices in inclusive science teaching within a multi-stage practical experience. The University of Washington is making use of the best features of top professional development models to innovatively prepare future professors for the unique challenges of teaching college STEM courses. The undergraduate students that the participating graduate students are teaching will join the workforce having more than basic memorized knowledge: they will also understand scientific practice, know how to apply scientific thinking and generate scientific questions, and be prepared to partake in a more diverse and effective scientific community.

This project balances cutting-edge teacher development within the constraints of modern graduate work to develop dual expertise in science and teaching. Practice of active teaching skills will help trainees develop classroom tools and teaching approaches that put engaging work in the hands of their students.


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At the University of Washington in Seattle, STEM graduate students are embedding a teaching training program within their graduate research and coursework. The Science Teaching Experience Program for Upcoming PhDs (STEP-UP) provides a year-long program for UW graduate students that provides training and teaching experience in higher education using student-centered multi-disciplinary practices in pedagogies.

The mission at STEP-UP is to engage advanced graduate students in learning and implementing inclusive teaching methods that support all students, especially those from minoritized backgrounds.
Trainees work efficiently within their ongoing research programs to learn, develop, and practice evidenced-based and compassionate teaching skills for use in a wide range of careers.