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WI Program for Scientific Teaching

Practice as you learn, learn as you practice!

Welcome to the Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching, a professional development program for graduate students and postdocs designed to improve teaching and mentoring in science.

How is this program unique? It provides intensive mentoring and peer support, and it combines theory, practice, reflection, research, and more practice in a way that builds concrete skills and supports your career. Cultivate active learning as you practice it yourself, and invest in tools that will help you engage more fully in the intellectual landscape throughout your career.

  • Design instructional materials and test them in a course that you and your peers are responsible for as instructors of record—from classroom rules to grading and evaluations.
  • Gain perspectives and tools right when you need them by taking a companion course as you TA or mentor. 
  • Teach and mentor for diversity! Gain experience with key populations like first-year students, and learn how to be more effective with undergraduates from a variety of backgrounds.
  • Use your research skills in the classroom, with improved student outcomes and your success as a teacher as the ultimate goal. 

The program includes:

  • Scientific Teaching Fellows, a two-semester program in which participants learn about teaching first-year science students, create instructional materials for a first-year course, and test their materials while helping teach the course (as instructor of record!)
  • Scientific Teaching Course, a one-credit course designed for newer TAs, to be taken concurrently with a Teaching Assistant assignment in an undergraduate science course
  • Research Mentor Training Course, Biology 660, a seminar to help research mentors cultivate successful mentor/mentee relationships and experiences, particularly with students from groups underrepresented in science
  • Scientific Teaching Digital Library, a compilation of teaching materials developed by the Scientific Teaching Fellows (to be made available online pending resolution of security issues)

Background:

The Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching, originally funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, was developed at UW–Madison by Dr. Jo Handelsman, who later founded the Center for Scientific Teaching at Yale University. The program is part of a national effort to transform undergraduate science teaching at colleges and universities across the United States. Promoting methods that can reach diverse groups of students effectively contributes to a larger, more diverse population of students pursuing majors and careers in science.

Suggested reading:

  • J. Handelsman, et al., 2004. Scientific Teaching. Science 304:521-522.
  • J. Handelsman, S. Miller, C. Pfund, Scientific Teaching (Freeman, New York, NY 2007).