Graduate Instructional Apprentice

A primary goal of the Division’s PhD program is to provide graduate students with training and mentorship in research and teaching. Introducing students to the teaching of science at the collegiate level provides them with a complete set of research and instructional skills required for a successful academic career. The Division expects that all students, regardless of career path, will develop a high regard for excellence in teaching as well as research.

The teaching requirement provides each student with significant practicum experience in college level instruction. This experience will increase a student's ability to convey ideas accurately and persuasively in a variety of contexts as it hones the skills required to make presentations with poise and impact.

Graduate Instructional Apprentice Assignments

The faculty-mentored apprentice teaching program is designed to expose each student to a variety of distinct instructional environments by moving gradually from small group instruction in a laboratory setting to leading discussion sections and review sessions for lecture courses.  To achieve this, students assist as a Graduate Instructional Apprentice in a total of three courses during their graduate career, which is equivalent to one year of experience.  Students are expected to assist in a laboratory course during their second year, followed by lecture courses in the third and fourth years of the program.  In addition to practical classroom experience under the direct supervision of a biology course instructor, students will enroll in the appropriate BGGN 500 series course (as designated by the Division) where they will also benefit from the instruction of a teaching faculty member.

Graduate Instructional Apprentice Training & Professional Development

UC San Diego is part of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) network, an NSF-funded national collaboration across 25+ institutions focused on professional development of faculty and future faculty in teaching.  The Division’s training and professional development program is centered on the CIRTL framework for learning outcomes.

In addition to practical classroom experience, students will enroll in the appropriate BGGN 500 series course, as designated by the Division.  Students are expected to earn a ‘Satisfactory’ (‘S’) grade for each BGGN 500 series course in which they are enrolled.  Each BGGN 500 series course will have an in-class component led by a faculty member with expertise in evidence-based teaching methods and biology education research, as well as the apprentice teaching component.  All BGGN 500 series grades are based upon both weekly seminar and practicum (instructional apprentice duties) participation.

Students assisting for the first time in a lab course must also attend a one-time Safety Training for Laboratory Instructional Assistants and complete other online safety training requirements.

Graduate Instructional Apprentice Evaluation and Awards

The instructor of record for the course in which a student is apprenticing collaborates with the BGGN 500 series course instructor regarding grade assignments, based upon the student’s performance in weekly seminars and practicum (instructional apprentice duties) participation. Students may also receive assessment about their performance via direct observation from the course instructor, the Division’s Faculty Advisor to Instructional Assistants, the Division’s Graduate Teaching Mentors, or a representative from the Teaching + Learning Commons

At the end of the quarter, both the course instructor and the undergraduate students enrolled in the course will provide feedback to Graduate Instructional Apprentices via online evaluation surveys.  At the end of each academic year, the Division confers Excellence in Teaching Awards upon a select group of instructional assistants.  The awards are based on both the instructor and student evaluations. These awards are presented during the annual Science Retreat in September.

Resources for Instructional Assistants

Information about office hour space, textbook loans, the Faculty Advisor to Instructional Assistants, and other available resources.