Insights from the Teagle Foundation’s Graduate Student Teaching in the Arts & Sciences Initiative

Executive Summary

The Teagle Foundation’s Graduate Student Teaching in the Arts and Sciences (GSTAS) initiative, first piloted in 2010 and expanded in 2012, engaged hundreds of graduate students, faculty, staff, and senior administrators across eight elite universities and two professional associations in thinking deeply about undergraduate teaching and learning. The goal of the GSTAS initiative was to strengthen the practices of current and future faculty in using evidence to enhance student learning, through effective, sustainable, and replicable programs preparing graduate students for undergraduate teaching in the arts and sciences.  

This white paper describes findings and lessons learned from site visits to seven GSTAS grantees:  Northwestern University, Cornell University, Stanford University, Columbia University, Princeton University, the University of California-Berkeley, and the American Historical Association (AHA).  We argue that a key element of success in these programs was their treatment of the development of knowledge and practice in teaching, and the development of knowledge and practice in research, as both similar and synergistic.  We also observe that, despite substantial differences in project design, the Teagle projects constituted a graduate-level version of “high-impact practice,” such that participants experienced first-hand the kinds of instructional strategies supported by much of the scholarly literature they were reading.  We suggest that, project successes notwithstanding, institutional and departmental cultures that devalue the instructional mission of the university, whatever its Carnegie classification, remain a significant challenge to scaling up efforts such as those described here.  Finally, challenges notwithstanding, we conclude with recommendations for continuing to advance the long trajectory of change in the preparation of graduate students for effective, evidence-informed teaching.