Learning to be an effective teacher is an integral part of graduate training for most doctoral students in philosophy at Syracuse University. A structured set of teaching experiences complements the curriculum. Graduate Teaching Assistants participate in a two-week all-university and departmental training session just before the beginning of their first semester of teaching. During their first year of teaching they lead discussion sections of an introductory course in ethics, logic, decision making, the history of western philosophy, or human nature.
In addition to regular meetings with the course professor, each Assistant videotapes one of his/her classes each semester and discusses the tape with the professor in charge of the course and with fellow Assistants. The professor visits one of the Assistant's sections each semester, and shares his/her observations with the Assistant. At the end of every semester, students evaluate the Assistant's classroom performance. Most second and some third-year Assistants repeat this pattern, usually in a different course with a different professor.
More advanced Teaching Assistants may be appointed as Teaching Associates. Associates will normally teach 100-level courses such as PHI 107 (Knowledge and Reality) or PHI 192 (Introduction to Moral Theory). Teaching Associates set the overall features of the syllabus, as well as the textbooks, examination questions, and course policies. (The unusual extent of self-determination of the PHI 107 staff is the subject of an article by Michael Patton in Teaching Philosophy, 1992.)
Teaching Associates continue to develop their teaching with the aid of discussions of videotapes of their classes, classroom visits, and meetings with a faculty member who serves as a teaching mentor. They may apply for a Certificate in University Teaching that is awarded on the basis of participation in a professional development seminar and development of a teaching portfolio that documents their teaching experience and ability. (Our Department's program for developing teaching is discussed in a group of articles by some of our faculty and graduate students in Teaching Philosophy, 1995.)