Call for Book Contributions: Graduate Student Instructor Opportunity

The Center for Teaching Innovation at Cornell University is accepting essay proposals from graduate students for an edited volume that will serve as a guide to teaching and learning in higher education for their peers who are new to teaching. This book, “Teaching Gradually: Practical Pedagogy for Graduate Students, by Graduate Students,” is under contract with Stylus Publishing, with support from the Center for Teaching Innovation at Cornell University.

Abstract proposals (max. 300 words) are due by Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 11:59 pm EST, as well as your relevant experience as an instructor and/or leader in pedagogy at your institution, through a Google form at this link: 

Please see below for more information about the book and proposals, Please direct any remaining inquiries to

Book Overview

“Teaching Gradually” will be an edited volume whose content will fill a crucial gap in the pedagogical literature – that is, a guide to teaching in higher education for graduate student instructors written by graduate students who have substantive teaching experience. This book will pull together strategies and tools from authors with immediate, relevant experience to help readers discover effective and more inclusive teaching techniques. Our goal is to encourage collaborative professionalization among graduate students as they transition into their careers as scholars and educators.

Existing teaching guides have primarily been written by established faculty who offer a great deal in terms of advice and hard-won expertise, but who are nonetheless far removed from their own pedagogical first steps and can therefore lack an intimate familiarity with the challenges faced by new instructors. Thus, this book will be the first of its kind to speak to graduate students as comrades-in-arms with voices from alongside them in the trenches, rather than from far behind the lines. Ultimately, Teaching Gradually will give scope to a newer, diverse generation of educators who are closer in experience and professional age to the book’s intended audience.

Book Goals

Just as instructors design a set of learning outcomes to guide each of their classes, we have also crafted a set of learning outcomes for this book. As a result of engaging with Teaching Gradually, readers will be able to:

1.) Identify best teaching practices to enhance student learning

2.) Develop a plan to implement these strategies in their teaching

3.) Expand their conception of contexts in which teaching and learning can take place

4.) Evaluate and refine their approaches to fostering inclusion in and out of the classroom

5.) Assess student learning and the efficacy of their own teaching practices

6.) Practice professional self-reflection

Please note that your proposed essay does not need to touch on all of these learning outcomes — these are merely goals that we expect our book will achieve as a whole. However, successful submissions will clearly appeal to at least one of the learning outcomes stated above.

The overall tone of this book will be one of encouragement. We hope to empower new educators to jump in and try novel ideas and techniques. And in that spirit, we want to encourage submissions from any graduate students who have know-how to share. We are not looking for established or formal expertise; we are interested in your innovation, your passion, and your recent experiences. Your perspective as a graduate student instructor is your expertise, and we believe that your relatable work will be invaluable to our readers. We want you to help new educators find their footing, and to inspire them to expand their craft just as you have.

Content Elements and Submission Proposals

We are seeking essays from graduate student instructors with teaching experience in at least one of the following categories:

· Experience as an instructor in a classroom, lab, studio, or other teaching venue common in higher education

· Experience in a leadership role relevant to the pedagogical training of other graduate students (e.g., TA training, running teaching workshops, involvement with an institutional teaching center)

We welcome submissions from graduate student instructors from all colleges and universities across the United States. By including the broadest possible spectrum of experiences, we hope to offer a text comprised of diverse voices that will serve as a ready reference to young educators as they grow in their craft.

Submissions should offer relevant pedagogical strategies and advice that addresses challenges typically faced by new graduate student instructors. Successful contributions will reflect on the learning curve inherent to early-career teaching, while presenting material that readers can leverage to address the dynamic teaching landscape they inhabit. Each submission should be focused on a single pedagogical issue (see outline below for topic suggestions), and should be both informative and reflective, yet ultimately rooted in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Authors of accepted submissions will be encouraged to include both a formal strategies section (focusing on pedagogical strategies and advice) and a more informal anecdotal section (where relevant) in their final essay.

You may submit as a single author or co-write a submission with one other graduate student instructor (who also fits the above criteria), but please limit authorship to no more than two individuals. Multiple submissions for different topics are welcome.

Additionally, submission contents are not strictly limited to the suggested subtopics outlined below. Please feel free to propose a novel topic.

Final essays will be limited to 3000 words.

Tentative Outline

We expect that accepted submissions will fall into the following organizational structure:

Section 1: The Science Behind Learning
Suggested subtopics:
What is learning?
Incorporating active learning strategies in the classroom
Teaching reading/study skills

Section 2: Navigating the Instructional Role of Graduate Student Instructors
Introduction: Teaching Identity
Suggested subtopics:
Battling imposter syndrome (“jump in and get started”)
Professionalism/establishing authority
Topic 1: Holding office hours
Suggested subtopics:
Motivating students to attend office hours
Clarifying course content in a way that is tailored to the individual
Topic 2: Leading recitation and discussion sections
Suggested subtopics:
Stimulating student participation via the Socratic method
Effectively answering questions about the material
Capitalizing on diverse perspectives to foster deeper understanding of course content
Topic 3: Conducting lab sessions
Suggested subtopics:
Creating a safe lab environment
Preparing experiments and assignments appropriate to the difficulty level of the course
Guiding students in a way that fosters independent thinking and problem solving
Topic 4: Teaching studio courses
Suggested subtopics:
Clearly communicating expectations for work that is inherently abstract
Effectively utilizing and critiquing examples of artistic work
Motivating creative thought processes
Topic 5: Serving as an instructor of record
Suggested subtopics:
Backward course design
Creating measurable learning outcomes
Effectively managing time
Incorporating technology in the classroom
Topic 6: Online teaching
Suggested subtopics:
Fundamental differences between traditional and online learning
Building a web-based learning community
Making course content accessible

Section 3: The Inclusive Classroom
Suggested subtopics:
Motivating students of all backgrounds
Teaching across differences
Eliciting participation in a quiet classroom
Dealing with difficult situations

Section 4: Assessment of Teaching and Learning
Suggested subtopics:
Developing grading criteria
Providing useful feedback on student work
Grading consistently, fairly, and efficiently
Designing teaching evaluations
Seeking feedback on teaching from peers, faculty, and teaching centers
Using feedback to foster personal growth as an instructor

Section 5: Teaching Research Skills
Suggested subtopics:
Building on feedback loops between teaching and research

Section 6: Beyond the Classroom
Suggested subtopics:
Incorporating campus resources into coursework
Promoting service-learning opportunities
Connecting coursework to student’s lives and communities (in other words, making learning matter)
Mentoring students outside of the classroom
Policies addressing plagiarism and Title IX

Section 7: Professional Development and Reflection
Suggested subtopics:
Identifying multiple mentors in the teaching journey
Employing DBER/SoTL strategies
Developing a teaching identity and philosophy
Documenting and curating professional experiences
Crafting professional documents and artifacts, such as a teaching/tenure portfolio
Exploring institutional teaching and learning resources and communities
(Please note: This section is not intended to be preparatory for the academic job market. Submissions on artifacts and documents, such as portfolios or teaching philosophy statements, will need to be aimed at helping readers become more reflective and professional teachers.)

Finally, we strongly believe in placing issues of diversity and inclusion at the fore of conversation about teaching in higher education, and so we ask all contributors to explore their given topic through this lens.

We are excited to hear your voice and your perspective.