One of the single best things you can do for your development as a college teacher is to seek out opportunities to be an instructor of record (IOR): the formally designated instructor (or professor) of a credit-bearing, college-level class who is responsible for instruction, evaluation and final grade submission. It is a lot of work and responsibilty, but it can be a transformative experience.
If your career aspirations are for a teaching-focused institution or position after you graduate, this experience can make you a great deal more competitive, more efficient, and more confident in your career decisions. This is also the best way to fulfill the teaching (and observation) requirement in the Certificate in College Teaching progam. The general requirement for teaching an undergraduate course as IOR is that you have a master's degree and/or 18 hours in the subject being taught. Typically, PhD students will have done this by the time they've passed preliminary examinations. You would also need to confirm with your department that your funding does not preclude any financial aspects of the arrangement or that visa issues are addressed.
IOR Teaching Opportunities & Resources
The first place to explore is your department. Talk to your advisor, DGS, DUS or other graduate IORs in your program about possibilities in (and beyond) your department. In some program (e.g., English) there may be an established protocol for advanced students to be IOR. In other programs, it may require a bit of entrepreneurship on your part to lay the groundwork. In still others it, it may not be feasible.
Bass Instructional Fellowships
Bass IOR Fellowships, provided by the Graduate School, provide funded, semester-long teaching opportunities for PhD students in any program to be an IOR in the student’s home department or in a related one. Bass IOR Fellowships are funded by the Graduate School, but the courses are developed, approved, scheduled and owned by the sponsoring department. Applications for the 2023-24 academic year will be due in November 2022. Yes, that it a lot of lead time, but quite necessary, and actually typical for how most universities operate.
Graduate School Programs
These programs and resources can help you prepare and be more competitive for IOR opportunities:
- Join the Certificate in College Teaching Program & get on CCT listserv, where there are often announcements about opportunities at nearby colleges (including and beyond Durham Tech)
- Take the CCT course GS755 College Teaching and Course Design. It can be very helpful in preparing Bass IOR application.
- Explore the Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program. There is usually an info session held each May, and applications for next academic year are due in June.
- If you are going to be an IOR, consider enrolling in GS780S Graduate IOR Seminar, which is a seminar is for graduate students who are teaching their own college-level course. It is open to all Duke graduate students in teaching as IOR at any institution, including and beyond Duke. It is meant to be taken in the same term that you teach your course and serve to support your professional development as a reflective, collegial instructor.
Durham Technical Community College
Many Durham Tech students go on to four-year degrees at Chapel Hill, UNCG or other UNC campuses. The coursework these students do at Durham Tech is parallel to those other schools, and may be a great opportunity for you to engage as an IOR or lab leader. If you are interested, look at the range of courses taught, and send your cv and a note to the appropriate department chair to let them know you are interested in talking about possible teaching opportunities. Many Duke PhD students have done this in the past, so this will likely be a familiar conversation for them. Note: if you are on a student visa, this option might not be possible; check with Duke Visa Services.
The Graduate School encourages departments to allow well-trained and qualified graduate students to be an IOR for courses, as long as the following criteria are met:
- The candidate instructor must have passed prelims or have a previous master’s or doctoral degree relevant to the course being taught.
- The course can only have undergraduates or non-degree-seeking students enrolled for graded credit; other graduate students cannot enroll in this course for a grade.
- The instructor should have completed several terms of teaching or TAing in a role that includes being the primary facilitator of instruction (e.g., leading discussion sections, labs, etc.).
- The instructor should have engaged in pedagogical training (e.g., completing several courses in the Certificate in College Teaching Program).
- The Director of Undergraduate Studies for the unit sponsoring the course in which a graduate IOR will teach should orient the IOR to his or her unique roles and responsibilities (e.g., grade submission, reporting academic misconduct, Title IX reporting, etc.) before the start of the course, and be available for ad hoc consulting during the semester of teaching.
- Graduate students may not be IORs for independent study courses.
- Complete any required EIS coursework.