Grad student teaching is good for undergrads and grads

At UO, as at most research universities, many undergrad courses are taught by graduate students who are in the process of getting PhDs. The grad student teaching frees up faculty to teach graduate level classes and supervise the research of the PhD students.

Are the undergrads getting a good education? Are the grad students hurting their own education by working too much on teaching? Eric Bettinger et al. find that actually this system is good for everyone. Paper here, InsideHigherEd review here.

We examine graduate student teaching as an input to two production processes: the education of undergraduates and the development of graduate students themselves. Using fluctuations in full-time faculty availability as an instrument, we find undergraduates are more likely to major in a subject if their first course in the subject was taught by a graduate student, a result opposite of estimates that ignore selection. Additionally, graduate students who teach more frequently graduate earlier and are more likely to subsequently be employed by a college or university.

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3 Responses to Grad student teaching is good for undergrads and grads

  1. Dog says:

    While I am all for advanced grad students gaining experience by teaching courses (I know that I did and in fact, that is the only reason I went on to have a “career”) – but my experience at the UO suggests, outside of the Math necessity, that this is rather rare. For instance,
    my own department has about 80 grad students but none of them
    teach courses (I wish they would). So I think this practice is less
    common here than most other research universities. To wit, we have no formal evening program for instance in which to offer these kinds of classes.

    • To have a night program... says:

      … we’d have to have some aspiring professionals in Eugene who weren’t already graduates of UO. Or some desire to be a commuter school for working parents in the southern valley.

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