Graduate students and postdocs play pivotal roles in undergraduate education, yet they often receive far less support for developing skills in teaching and mentoring than their faculty counterparts. To address this, Biology Teaching and Learning staff members Meaghan Stein and Seth Thompson launched the Inclusive Science Education Fellows, now in its fifth year, that provides graduate students and postdocs with the opportunity to reflect on their roles in undergraduate education and develop strategies for creating more equitable and inclusive communities.
“Graduate teaching assistants have substantial roles as instructors and were looking for ways to build their knowledge and skills for promoting inclusive spaces,” says Stein. “We wanted to help these teaching assistants grow by giving them continuous support in transforming their instructional methods to promote an inclusive culture of student learning. The response has been very positive and we’ve been able to expand the program in both content and capacity.”
One participant said: “I was motivated to improve my teaching skills in order to provide the best learning environment possible to my students. ... My biggest takeaway from this semester is that fostering an inclusive environment is really hard work and definitely worth it!”
This program launched with funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and has been sustained through collegiate investment. Participants engage in critical conversations about diversity and inclusion and implement inclusive teaching and mentoring strategies. To date, 81 graduate students and postdocs have participated in this semester-long program.
Interested in learning more? Find resources on inclusive teaching at z.umn.edu/steminclusiveteaching.