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Department of Psychological Sciences

Teaching Apprenticeship


Teaching represents a major segment of the responsibilities given to faculty members at colleges and universities. Yet, most Ph.D.-granting departments fail to provide their graduate students with structured, supervised teaching experience. For example, many graduate students serve as teaching assistants for other faculty, but these experiences often involve little actual teaching. Our program provides graduate students with supervised training in college teaching, and should be considered as a supplement to our current Ph.D. programs.


During the course of the program, graduate students are given opportunities to develop effective teaching skills. This is accomplished by taking a course in college teaching, being the instructor for a small General Psychology course, and teaching a second course that is either an additional (usually larger) General Psychology course or a course specific to the student's area of study. In the latter two situations, direct supervision by a faculty member is included. Participation in this program allows our graduates to assume a college or university position and be ready to teach immediately.

The Program

The program is divided into three separate segments/semesters. It is intended primarily for advanced graduate students, but exceptions are possible.

  1. Enrollment in a 3-credit-hour course entitled Principles of College Teaching (EDCI 943). This is a one-semester course (typically offered during both Fall and Spring semesters) that covers all basic teaching responsibilities: selecting a textbook, arranging lecture material, developing instructional methods, etc. As part of the course requirements, the student observes one lecture by another instructor, and has an opportunity to deliver at least one lecture that is critiqued.
  2. Enrollment in PSYCH 870, Practicum in Teaching Psychology (3 credit hours). In this semester, the student assumes exclusive responsibility for teaching a General Psychology section of approximately 30-40 students. Given the experience of EDCI 943, the student should be prepared to choose the textbook, determine course format, write exams, and assign grades. This teaching experience is closely supervised by a faculty member. Frequent observations and meetings are held to enable the faculty member to interact and provide feedback to the student instructor.

    In addition to teaching the course and meeting with a faculty supervisor, a weekly meeting of all student instructors and the Director of the Graduate Teaching Program facilitates sharing of teaching experience and ideas. The purpose of these meetings is to exchange experiences so that all the students can learn from each other successes, as well as from their setbacks.
  3. Assuming that the student performs adequately in all previous assignments, he/she will then teach an additional course. While enrolling in PSYCH 870, Practicum in Teaching Psychology (3 credit hours) again, the student will have one of the following options (further options may be generated in consultation with the Department Head and the Director of the Graduate Teaching Program):
  • Repeat teaching a small section of General Psychology. This allows the student to take advantage of the material they generated the first time they taught, and concentrate more on issues of style.
  • Teach a large section of General Psychology (250-350 students).
  • Teach the introductory level course in their specialty. For example, a student in the Behavioral Neuroscience program might teach a section of PSYCH 470, Psychobiology. To ensure close supervision, a large section of the class normally taught by a professor can be subdivided so that the graduate student teaches in tandem with a regular faculty member.
  • Teach one of the large undergraduate-level service classes that the Department offers: Social Psychology, Childhood and Adolescence, Drugs and Behavior, Consumer Psychology, etc.

The choice of the final teaching responsibility depends on a variety of factors (the individual, departmental needs) that are weighted by the faculty and the Department Head. Regardless of what choice is made, the student is expected to work closely with a supervising faculty member to continue receiving feedback regarding his/her teaching performance.

For further information contact Dr. Donald Saucier (saucier@ksu.edu), Department of Psychology, Bluemont Hall, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-5305. Telephone: (785) 532-6850.