Six Ideas for Teaching Graduates

  1. Clearly establish learning goals for a seminar. Faculty often do this for undergraduates, but mistakenly think that a graduate seminar should be more free-flowing or organic.  (“Re-envisioning Teaching Graduate Seminars,” Anton Rosenthal)
  2. On the other hand, when appropriate and feasible, work with the students to set the direction of the class.
  3. Ask students to write a short “intellectual autobiography.”  This is a deeper form of the first day questionnaire that is used in undergraduate classes. Some graduate students are fresh from undergraduate experience, while others are older with a variety of experiences.  It’s helpful both the instructor and the other students to understand the variety of backgrounds. (“From Seminar to Study Group,” Barbara Katz Rothman)
  4. Even if the material is new to most students, don’t lecture in a seminar.  Depend on their doing background reading so that the time can be spent in discussion and analysis. For some topics, assign a presenter and a respondent, students who will be responsible for kicking off the discussion.
  5. Make sure that students understand the context in which this course is set (Re-envisioning the Ph.D.,  2000 Conference, Don Wulff). Surveys have indicated that graduate students, even those who have been in a program for several years, do not understand the processes involved in a Ph.D. program.
  6. Consider the various roles of the faculty member.  In any graduate seminar, the faculty member is not only teacher, but also frequently student, as well as mentor and advisor.