I've gone on several interviews in the past, but have never had to do a teaching demonstration. For an upcoming interview, I was asked to give a lecture to an undergraduate class. While I've taught before, I've never done so under these circumstances (i.e. on a job interview being watched by search committee). I was told to choose a topic that conveys what I do in a way that is relatable to the undergrad audience. I am torn whether I should do something similar to a job talk and "teach" my research to the undergrads or integrate my research into a lecture on a broader topic where applicable. The topic has generally been left open to me. Any advice/suggestions is much appreciated!
Date: 11 Jan 2016 18:35
Number of posts: 5
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Is the topic open, or are you supposed to "convey what I do in a way that is relatable to the undergrad audience?" If the latter, it sounds like a research job talk that is conveyed in a way that undergraduates can relate/understand. If it's a true teaching demonstration with an open topic, then you just teach a regular day of class on the area they're hiring you for, which might not be your actual research area.
I suppose you can do the third option — teach a lesson on a topic, but it's a topic for which your research is very relevant, such that you end up citing your own work in the talk. I'd ask them the exact question you're asking here — should it be a job talk on your research that is accessible to undergrads, or should it be a teaching demo on a topic that is slightly related to your research area?
Is the job purely teaching or do they expect you to do research with students? That also informs which approach to take.
I would also ask the SC for clarification regarding the two alternatives asstprof brought up above. When I interviewed at a SLAC years ago, I was asked to give a teaching demonstration (with no mention of my research in the description). That's what I did. I got the job, and later heard that some faculty members were surprised I did not discuss my research in my talk. As it turns out, the SC chair had given me outdated instructions. Don't hesitate to ask members of the SC to clarify their expectations (in a gentler way, of course).
Ok, I got some clarification and basically they want me to choose a topic that undergrads will relate to and that includes some of my research. I basically know now what I will talk about, so if anyone has any general suggestions for a teaching demo, that would be great. Things to do? Not to do? How much student participation? Any other tips? Thank you!!!
I suggest being as interactive as possible, working with the constraint that you have no idea what students' background and ability will be. Inevitably, they will want to know that you can lecture, but just lecturing will not wow anyone. And be prepared to feel out the room to see how well students understand the basics— I'd recommend having a plan for covering basic concepts (like research methods and statistical concepts) just in case it turns out the students know nothing about that. Keep an eye on the time— I recommend organizing things in short sections, with the understanding that things may go slower or faster than you anticipate depending on the students, so have a plan for which sections to skip in order to end everything on time.