Future Professoriate Program in the Chemistry Department
Syracuse University is a research university, focusing attention on scholarship and learning at all stages of professional development. An appropriate model views undergraduate education, graduate education, and faculty scholarship as unified by the theme of learning. Scholarship can be broadly defined to include the creation of new knowledge (research) and also the dissemination of knowledge (teaching). Graduate studies under this expanded definition may, therefore, be conceived in terms of all of these important activities.
The research activities of doctoral students in chemistry remain central to the development of new generations of chemists. Recently, however, the Association of Graduate Schools in the American Association of Universities has recognized the more broadly defined definition of scholarship by saying that "...virtually all doctoral students, whether or not they enter the academic sector, will be engaged in not only the creation but the dissemination of knowledge, [and] the skills acquired in learning how to teach will be fundamental to their future work." Ph.D. chemists in most professional employment settings are frequently engaged in teaching related to their work. This "teaching" may take the form of presentations of research, reports of development progress, instructions to coworkers, and numerous other activities. Of course, professors and other faculty members are involved in teaching more explicitly and to a greater extent than Ph.D. chemists in strictly research settings.
Syracuse University is training the future professoriate in teaching proficiency through the Future Professoriate Program. This program helps articulate an effective and meaningful approach to the more broadly conceived training of Ph.D. students in the dissemination of knowledge. For this reason, the chemistry department is pleased to participate in the Future Professoriate Program. Besides enhancing the overall professional preparedness of our doctoral students, the program in the chemistry department also serves as a vehicle for the overall improvement of instruction in the department by helping our Ph.D. students become better and more efficient teachers. The scientific productivity of graduate teaching assistants is enhanced by eliminating inefficient teaching practices frequently observed in unskilled teachers, and by improving communication skills.
Students in the chemistry department's Future Professoriate Program are expected to take a graduate-level course in the teaching of college-level science, and also meet as a group to discuss issues in general and specific chemistry departmental teaching. In recent years, these issues have included choosing a textbook, construction of a syllabus, and obtaining student evaluations. Some of its recommendations to the department have been implemented at Syracuse.
Specific components of the program include the following: (1) promotion from a teaching assistant (Ta) to a teaching associate (TA) appointment; (2) participation in a "significant, mentored, independent teaching experience;" and (3) development of a professional portfolio that includes, in addition to the more typical research-based information, detailed information regarding specific aspects of the student's teaching development. Successful participation in the program is expected to culminate in the awarding of the Certificate in University Teaching.