An essential function of the FPP is to provide participants pursuing the Certificate in University Teaching with teaching opportunities that involve both enhanced instructional duties and appropriate faculty guidance: independent mentored teaching experiences. Ideally, such an experience involves primary responsibility for a course or section under the guidance of a faculty teaching mentor, following a year or more of conventional TA assignments (as graders, lab or discussion/recitation section leaders).
Due to the diversity of departmental curricula, instructional modes and funding models, however not all students can expect to hold an instructor-of-record appointment within a department during their graduate career. In such cases, FPP participants, mentors, and administrators work together to design TAships with enhanced instructional opportunities that invest graduate students with autonomy and responsibility mirroring that expected of faculty educators in their disciplines.
To fulfill the Independent Mentored Teaching Experience requirement, FPP participants and their Faculty Teaching Mentors must define in specific terms:
- how the student’s activities as part of the experience replicate the autonomy and responsibility of a faculty teaching assignment
- expectations for the participant–mentor relationship regarding such matters as classroom observations, out-of-class consultations, and provision of verbal and/or written feedback
Adjunct appointments at SU, at other schools in the area, or online often represent excellent alternatives for students whose home departments do not reliably afford independent teaching opportunities. Courses or training programs not offered through an institution of higher learning may also be options, provided the experience offers a reasonable approximation of TA or adjunct assignments in terms of workload, duration, and college-level content.
The Independent Mentored Teaching Experience is discussed in greater depth in the FPP Participant Handbook.
“[The independent mentored teaching experience] fortified my relationship with my mentor and other faculty members as well, and I became engaged in the process of teaching and mentoring other graduate students.”