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Preparing Students for Careers within and outside the Academy

Careers as Faculty Members in Postsecondary Education

How are teaching assistants introduced to, prepared for, and supported in their assignments? Does the department offer credit-bearing or noncredit seminars in appropriate areas, such as the teaching of composition, foreign language pedagogy, the use of technology, or the teaching of literature? If so, how effective are they? Do faculty members actively and consistently provide teaching assistants the ongoing supervision and support that allow teaching assistantships to be vital parts of graduate students' education? How often are teaching assistants more or less left on their own to sink or swim?
How are supervisory responsibilities shared among the director of graduate studies, the director of freshman composition or language teaching, and faculty members who teach graduate students and direct theses and dissertations?
What range of teaching experiences are graduate students afforded? What opportunities do students have to practice and think about issues in the teaching of literature in addition to the teaching of introductory language courses and freshman composition? What is the balance between independent responsibility for courses and more closely supervised work as a section leader in a course for which a regular faculty member is the instructor of record?
What opportunities do graduate students have to talk about, practice, and receive comment on activities like leading discussions, lecturing, constructing a syllabus, creating assignments, reading and responding to student writing, having students discuss and edit class work in groups, having language students work in small groups, and teaching with audiovisual and computer-based materials? Are graduate students informed of the obligations and rights that inhere in the institutional and professional position of the classroom teacher?
Are graduate students given opportunities to have their classroom performance observed or videotaped? How extensive or perfunctory are these opportunities? What protocols are in place for briefing graduate students before classroom observations and debriefing them after and for controlled analysis and discussion, including the current and future viewing of any videotapes?
Does the department ensure that at least one faculty member, and preferably more than one, can speak specifically and fully to each graduate student's abilities and accomplishments as an undergraduate teacher?
What steps does the department take to inform its graduate students and remind its faculty members of the diversity of institutions and teaching situations in higher education? Does the department think about how its graduate students' introduction to teaching relates to the job placements and teaching assignments of recent degree recipients? Are there opportunities for graduate students to learn from faculty members in two-year and baccalaureate colleges about the work of a professor in these settings?
What models and messages about teaching do faculty members demonstrate in their teaching, directly in graduate seminars and indirectly in their participation or nonparticipation in the department's undergraduate program? How do these models and messages compare with recent graduates' job placements and teaching assignments?

Scholarly Activity and Publication
What opportunities do graduate students have to learn about the infrastructure of scholarly journals and presses and of professional meetings and conferences?
Is support available for graduate students to attend professional meetings and conferences?
Is there a systematic means for students to learn about preparing and delivering an effective conference presentation and about the etiquette of participating in or presiding over a conference panel?
Is there a systematic means for students to learn about the standards and procedures of scholarly publishing, about preparing and submitting manuscripts, and about the etiquette of corresponding with editors?

Academic Citizenship
How do students learn about the system of higher education in the United States or Canada and its diversity? About differences between public and private sectors? About differences among doctorate, comprehensive, baccalaureate, and two-year institutions? About differences represented in the Carnegie classification?
How do graduate students learn about faculty governance, the concept of academic freedom and its scope and history, and the university as a social institution?
What opportunities do graduate students have to learn about such matters as working with others on committees, the ethical and legal contexts of activities like conducting job searches, the rules of parliamentary procedure, and the etiquette of departmental discussion and debate?

Careers outside the Academy

Does the department actively develop and maintain contacts with employers other than colleges and universities and especially with program graduates who have gone on to work in business, government, and not-for-profit organizations? Are there regular opportunities for graduate students to hear and learn from such employers and graduates?

Does the department encourage graduate students early and consistently to learn about employment options outside the academy? Or do students turn to the option of nonacademic employment only late and reluctantly, when it almost inevitably feels like a consequence of failure?

Is there a campus-wide committee on nonacademic placement of PhDs made up of representatives from graduate programs in the arts and sciences and from the business school or other appropriate schools?

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© 2014 Modern Language Association. Last updated 8/20/00.