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The Importance of Teaching in a Program of Study

For students interested in becoming teachers, the importance of having a teaching experience is obvious, but what about those interested in other vocations?  No matter what vocation a student pursues, odds are at some point they will need to explain something to someone else.  For example, doctors teach patients about their health conditions, and lab supervisors teach technicians in particular techniques.  Teaching is part of our everyday lives and an essential part of good communication skills.  Having practice explaining technical information is especially important in the sciences, and helps build a more competitive portfolio for potential employers and professional schools.  Teaching experiences with biology faculty and staff at Iowa State can count directly towards a student’s degree requirements in Biology.

Getting Involved in Teaching

There are many opportunities to assist with lectures and labs at Iowa State, both in the Biology Program and in others.  Sometimes, students are asked to serve as teaching assistants for courses they have taken previously and excelled in.  Students can also take the initiative and ask faculty and staff if they can be of service, with help and guidance from their academic advisor.  Biology Program faculty or staff in the EEOB & GDCB departments are good places to start, but a biology-related teaching experience can be found in several other departments.  Usually a student needs to have taken the course or lab they wish to be a teacher assistant for, but equivalent experience may also be acceptable.  

Teaching though the Academic Success Center

In addition to working directly with biology faculty and staff, students may also choose to have a teaching experience coordinated by the Academic Success Center.  These paid positions have additional requirements for qualifications and a more formal application process.  Possible teaching experiences include becoming a supplemental instruction leader,  where students lead review sessions in conjunction with a lecture section.  Students can also become a tutor, where students help individuals or small groups understand course content.  Biology students take many courses that have SI and also take courses with a high demand for tutors, so there are ample opportunities to assist with other student’s learning.  

Advanced Biology Credit for Teaching Experiences

Biology-related research experiences with Iowa State faculty can count directly towards Biology degree requirements.  To do so, students set up a BIOL 491 course.  More information about setting up a BIOL 491