Teaching Assistant (TA) Training Program
The aim of our Teacher Training Program is to produce highly qualified and self-reflective university-level instructors who will excel at teaching Sociology in our department and at other institutions upon graduation. Our Department’s commitment is to train TAs who excel in conveying the principles of Sociology to undergraduate students and who awaken in these students a love and passion for Sociology and a desire to pursue the discipline as a major and/or to incorporate the sociological imagination into their everyday lives. Our program achieves these aims through a holistic and ongoing training model that includes both theoretical and practical components.
M.A. and Ph.D. Teaching Assistants are required to complete a semester-long Teaching Sociology Seminar. In the seminar, students read about the scholarship of learning and teaching, complete inquiry-based activities designed to help them develop and reflect upon their own pedagogical approaches, design a statement of teaching philosophy, observe classrooms from different disciplines, develop course content and a syllabus for the course they will be teaching in the future, and learn about instructional policies at the University of South Florida. The final product of the course is a strong teaching portfolio that can be submitted with their academic job applications.
In addition to the Teaching Sociology course, our M.A. Teaching Assistants serve as part of an “instructional team” with our large classroom-based and online sections of Introduction to Sociology, Social Problems, Social Psychology, and Social Science Statistics. They conduct guest lectures in courses, learn to develop online teaching modules, and get on-going, comprehensive mentoring and feedback on these activities from our teacher-training faculty and the Department’s Pedagogy Director.
In addition to the Teaching Sociology course, our Ph.D. Teaching Assistants are mentored by on-line course instructors in effective on-line course development and implementation as well as being provided with the opportunity to serve as a Teaching Associate Mentor. The Teaching Associate Mentors work with instructors of mass courses to learn about best mentoring practices and to serve as the liaison between the instructor and the M.A. teaching assistants in a variety of capacities. They co-facilitate workshops and discussions with the instructor about pedagogy and best practices for both online and face-to-face teaching; they assist the M.A. teaching assistants in grading issues which ensures inter-grader consistency and also provides an outlet for discussion about evaluation and assessment practices; and, they work alongside the instructor in the process of providing evaluations of the M.A. teaching assistants to better understand the managerial aspects of TA supervision. The skills attained from these experiences have made our Ph.D. students more competitive on the academic job market.
Our department’s Teacher Training Program has been lauded University-wide and in 2016 the program received the Southern Sociological Society’s Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award.