Do’s and Don’ts for researchers – Research Along with PhD Teaching

As a PhD student, you may encounter a situation in which you are asked to teach undergraduate students, in addition to managing your research work! You have no idea of how to teach students, but your professor insists on taking up this responsibility. Teaching during PhD is an effective way to expand your knowledge and get the opportunity to share the relevant objectives of your research with undergraduate students. This will increase the students’ interest in your research field.

PhD Teaching Is a Challenging Task

Ph.D. Teaching can be a challenging task for researchers, especially when they have never had teaching experience before. However, PhD teaching usually starts from the second year, so the researcher will have a year of PhD experience before accepting teaching responsibility. Some researchers choose voluntary teaching opportunities to gain PhD teaching experience. For researchers working in STEM, teaching responsibilities include laboratory-based lectures, i.e. demonstrating scientific methods and techniques for undergraduate and Master students, administrative work, conducting seminars, and assessments.

What Does PhD Teaching Include for Researchers?

PhD teaching involves effective classroom teaching, academic advising, counseling students, participating in departmental work, developing curriculum through evaluation, participating in professional conferences to review current research, participating in undergraduate and graduate seminars and providing feedback, conducting applied research and scientific activities, etc. In addition, teachers are expected to adhere to university policies and actively participate in the collection of assessment data and perform their job duties.

Mostly academic teaching is a dreaded term for doctoral fellows because it appears as a time-consuming additional activity. Researchers usually wish to avoid external responsibilities in an attempt to provide undivided attention to their research objectives. However, PhD teaching can be an added advantage for researchers.

Advantages of PhD Teaching

Teaching students has the following benefits for researchers:

Improve their skill of presenting content to others

Improve their subject knowledge

Giving them an opportunity to transfer their research knowledge

Increasing their ability to solve questions posed by students.

Challenges of Teaching Undergraduates for Researchers

Teaching requires a variety of skill sets, from creating lesson plans to teaching students, working with administrators, and advising students. While researchers are busy getting research funding, demonstrating research impact, and building a scientific reputation for themselves by publishing scientific papers, teaching-related activities (which are often overlooked) are an effective way to demonstrate a researcher’s progress.

Activities related to academic teaching require such skills as effective oral communication, leadership qualities, self-reflection to adapt and modify techniques, and time management to balance teaching with doctoral studies. However, researchers are busy doing their own independent and self-directed research work, which makes it difficult for them to acquire these skills.

Ways to Improve PhD Teaching Skills

1- Choose the topics related to your research study

A researcher must answer students’ questions, but addressing a topic in which the researcher is an expert will help the researcher develop an effective lesson plan. In addition, students will find effective answers to their questions.

2- Learn teaching

For scientists who have never given a lecture, the first lecture can be daunting! However, attending workshops on how to teach can help researchers improve uncertainty and increase confidence to teach. There is always a first time for everything. The key to giving a successful speech is to be well-prepared.

3- Keep the lectures interactive

Always allow students to express their opinions on the topic of the speech. This will help you develop a story or real-life experience around the discussion started by the students. In addition, it makes students feel that they are equally involved in learning a new subject. Share your professional experiences related to your research work. This helps students to gain insight into how their theoretical knowledge works in practice.

4- View peers and accept their feedback

The best way to learn PhD teaching techniques is to observe supervisors, peers, and other staff in their roles. This may help researchers explore different teaching techniques and new ways to engage students in coursework. In addition, feedback received from supervisors or peers helps researchers gain a different perspective on teaching and its techniques.

5- Create a balance!

It is important to strike a balance between doing your research and teaching students. Educational activity is different from working on research goals. Research work is more independent and only requires discussion with the supervisor. While teaching doctoral students to undergraduate students is completely based on communication skills and interaction with them. What is most important is how a researcher creates a perfect balance between the two. Researchers can share their experiences from the research project and develop their presentation skills through educational activities.

6- Continue learning

Finally, after following and adapting teaching techniques and becoming familiar with the balance between doctoral research and academic teaching, you may sometimes be frustrated or even have trouble creating impressive syllabi. However, persistence in achieving your goals is the key to excelling as a college professor.

Avoid These Things While Teaching Academically

Ignore imposter syndrome

Impostor syndrome is the feeling of hiding the secret of one’s own weakness and insecurity. People with imposter syndrome think they do not have enough knowledge to do research. This is a very common issue among novice researchers. It is essential that you believe that you have enough expertise to teach university students.

Don’t be afraid of over-preparation

At first, you may want to put more effort into creating a lesson plan and doing an in-depth study. This is a plus for researchers entering PhD teaching for the first time. Over-preparation helps researchers answer questions posed by students. However, it must be ensured that students are not overwhelmed by information and jargon.

Don’t go for complicated thematic concepts

Students may not understand complex concepts taught in lectures unless basic concepts are explained. Researchers should first talk about basic concepts in their new class. This will also be useful for them and their doctoral studies.

Providing correct information to students

Thorough preparation for the speech is essential. This allows you to convey the correct information. There are scenarios where the researcher is unable to answer the question posed by a student and the researcher may give an irrelevant answer. However, it is better to be honest than to mislead students. If you want to know how to use synonyms effectively in a sentence, click here.

Teaching academically for the first time can be a daunting process, but it really sets the stage for impressive career development for PhD graduates. What do you think about teaching at the doctoral level? How do you balance research and teaching? Share your thoughts with us in the section below.

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