CoAT Program: Training graduate students to become better educators
This post does not only entail education in Design or Engineering. It touches upon the CoAT program at NC State University, in the US, which is part of the PFL (Preparing Future Leaders) program. The Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching (CoAT) is an initiative from the graduate school for developing pedagogy skills in graduate students from different disciplinary backgrounds. These g.students will soon become the educators of future professionals. Being close to people (including myself) that came to the US with a focus on improving Latin American education (to achieve equality), this program caught my attention. Furthermore, having experienced it made me a believer that programs like this make a difference and have an impact in an educational environment. This was my experience:
As a Design PhD student and instructor (from 2009-2013), me, and a group of other PhD students, fulfilled a series of workshops focused on higher education instruction. In addition, we were exposed to “actual hours of instruction” where another professor would be observing your performance as a faculty supervisor. These were some of the activities that the CoAT program requested for its completion. In these workshop sessions, we would meet up with graduate students from every other discipline. Apart from learning about motivational strategies in the classroom, or assessing different learning styles; we were exposed to a multidisciplinary environment where instructors from entomology, computer sciences, sociology, engineering, etc. would expose their experiences in teaching. You learned a lot from your peers. Attending each workshop would change our vision of teaching and we would be adapting the way we would deliver our next class session. Students, at least mine, could see a difference.
TEACHING PORTFOLIO.- Finally, after submitting reflections and some work on these experiences, we had to submit a “teaching portfolio”. I was used to make a portfolio of design-related-work. But this was different. It has been described by Peter Seldin as: as “A collection of materials that document teaching performance. It brings together in one place information about a professors most significant teaching accomplishments”. How many programs request a teaching portfolio for their instructors to apply for a position? In Design and Engineering, not many. But undergoing a program such as CoAT where you have to create one and built upon things like your teaching philosophy really made me think that this should be requested in every educational institution.
This program allows us to think on the purpose of becoming educators. It provides pedagogy tools that make it easier to teach in a higher educational background where the focus is usually on research and not really on delivering knowledge in the classroom to the professionals of tomorrow.
TEACHING RESOURCES.-Teaching Resources, like, for example, for Assessments in the Classroom, Learning Outcomes, Assessing Learning Styles, Motivational Strategies etc; can be located here