by Amy Ferrer
This post is part of a series of posts soliciting public comment on the APA’s new Good Practices Guide. In the first post in this series, I provided some background on how the APA Good Practices Guide came about and presented its preface and first section. For more on the guide and this series, go back and read that post.
In this second post of the series, we’ll be talking about section 2 of the Good Practices Guide, which covers teaching, supervising, and mentoring students. This section provides thoughtful advice about how individual faculty members might approach these crucial aspects of their work, and steps philosophy programs might take to support effective teaching, supervising, and mentoring.
The section begins with teaching, covering a wide variety of teaching-related topics: curricular design, course content, course structure, grading and assessment, and more. It discusses how careful planning and forethought can help faculty members develop classroom structures that create “clear and high expectations for all students… [and] the necessary support for meeting those expectations.” In this section, the Good Practices Guide also encourages faculty members to keep current in the subject areas in which they are teaching as well as pedagogical research, and to coordinate and discuss teaching strategies with their colleagues. It discusses good practices for grading and assessment, including anonymous grading and publicized rubrics. And it considers classroom atmosphere, community, and accessibility; providing opportunities for talented students and remediation for struggling students; and pedagogical activism.
The GPG then moves on to student supervision, discussing ways to create shared expectations and regular engagement with students to support progress through a dissertation, thesis, or independent study. It touches on letters of recommendation, and then turns to mentoring.
In discussing mentoring of students, the GPG provides advice not only to mentors, but also to departments about creating formal mentoring structures, and even creating a specialized ombudsperson role—including the benefits and pitfalls of such an undertaking.
The section concludes with an appendix titled “Good Practice in Teaching Philosophy” developed by the APA Committee on the Teaching of Philosophy. This appendix offers concrete suggestions for classroom activities that can help students with a variety of learning styles to succeed.
Teaching and supervising are large and crucial parts of nearly every faculty member’s job, and mentoring, which can contribute heavily to whether a student succeeds, is becoming increasingly in-demand. Given that, it’s more important than ever that faculty members have resources and support to continue improving their teaching, supervising, and mentoring.
I encourage you to read this section of the GPG yourself and share any feedback you have in the comments below.
- Are there areas of teaching, supervising, and mentoring that the guide overlooks?
- Are there pieces of advice in this section that will be especially helpful to you? Are there any that you think are not helpful or even potentially problematic?
- Do you have strategies you use in teaching, supervising, and mentoring that you think would be helpful to others?
Amy Ferrer has been Executive Director of the APA since 2012.