Spare time in graduate school can be hard to come by. Is engaging in teaching development, particularly beyond an initial orientation, worth the investment? Recent research suggests that yes, involvement in this work yields positive outcomes for graduate students in several ways.  

The most common benefit is an increase in self-reported sense of confidence in teaching, research, and self-efficacy in teaching.1 Similarly, collaboration with fellow graduate students from across disciplines can foster a sense of belonging in the sometimes-alienating landscape of higher education; teaching fellow or peer consultant programs create and sustain these diverse communities. 2

Equally important is the preparation these programs provide graduate students for the job market through the production of relevant job documents, knowledge of different career options, and professional experience in staff roles.3

It’s clear that universities recognize the value of these benefits. Teaching development opportunities for graduate student instructors, in their roles as teaching assistants and more generally, have increased markedly in recent years. Over 85% of doctoral institutions in the US offer at least one teaching development program, and many, including the University of Iowa, offer more.4

Teaching centers are often partners or leaders in these efforts in addition to the other ways they meaningfully support campuses.5 Iowa graduate students who are interested in exploring their teaching practice and collaborating across disciplines can take advantage of a range of opportunities from the OTLT Center for Teaching.  

Here are some popular ways to connect with us (all CfT programming is virtual for spring 2021): 

  • Request a teaching consultation. We can help you polish a syllabus, learn strategies for grading efficiently, or visit your classroom to gather formative feedback from your students about their learning experiences. 
  • Get feedback on your teaching statement for the job market or for teaching awards. 
  • Come to a workshop or program, like the upcoming Teaching Portfolio Institute happening in January via ICON. 
  • Invite us to present a workshop specific to the needs of TAs in your department. 
  • Apply to be a graduate teaching fellow; applications open in March 2021.  
  • Help plan and conduct the yearly New TA Orientation. 

Graduate students interested in these or other opportunities should email Katherine Beydler, Center for Teaching assistant director, at



5Condon, W., Iverson, E. R., Manduca, C. A., & Rutz, C. (2016). Faculty development and student learning: Assessing the connections. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 

1Connolly, Mark R., You‐Geon Lee, and Julia N. Savoy. (2018). “The Effects of Doctoral Teaching Development on Early‐Career STEM Scholars’ College Teaching Self‐efficacy.” CBE—Life Sciences Education 17 (1): 1–15. 

4Hoene, L. M. von. (2020). From Orientations to Outcomes: Articulating a Comprehensive and Systematic Approach to Preparing Future Higher Education Instructors. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2020(163), 13–23. 

3Schram, Laura N., Pinder-Grover, Tershia, & Turcic II, Stefan. (2017). Assessing the Long-Term Impact of the Preparing Future Faculty Seminar. To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development, 36(2). 

2Theisen, C. H., Modell, A., Muñoz, Y., & Saichaie, K. (2020). Peer Teaching Consultants: Design Principles for Instructional Development and Program Alignment. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2020(163), 55–63.