FAST - Future Academic Scholars in Teaching
The Graduate School at Michigan State University (MSU) and the MSU Center for the Integration of Research Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) Steering Committee are sponsoring a teaching and learning professional development opportunity for graduate students--the FAST Fellowship Program (Future Academic Scholars in Teaching). The primary goals of the FAST Fellowship Program are to provide opportunities for a diverse group of graduate students to have mentored teaching experiences and to gain familiarity with materials on teaching and assessment techniques.
Former FAST Fellows describe the value of their peer-mentoring experiences as part of their professional development
The focus of many existing professional development programs is preparing future faculty to implement effective teaching practices. However, peer mentoring is not widely adopted in graduate professional development even though incorporating this approach can better facilitate the transition from graduate student to faculty member. The Future Academic Scholars in Teaching (FAST) program at Michigan State University is a high-engagement teaching professional development program for STEM PhD students that has established a formal peer mentoring role into the programmatic framework. Our goal was to reflect on our experience as peer mentors in the FAST program (2011-2017) and use interview data from mentees to evaluate the benefits of peer mentoring in graduate student professional development.
Salk et al 2019; in Fine Focus 5:16-21 (https://openjournals.bsu.edu/finefocus/article/view/2079)
The FAST program is for doctoral students with interests in teaching, learning, and assessment in higher education who are enrolled in programs associated with the Colleges of Natural Science, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Engineering, Social Science, and Veterinary Medicine or whose college or department has an approved Certification in College Teaching Program.** This program was developed in response to the national need to prepare future faculty for the changing needs and expectations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. FAST also complements the efforts of the CIRTL project (an NSF funded project involving MSU and 42 other research-intensive universites).
Students selected for this one-year program will:
- participate in group meetings (late afternoons/ early evenings on an agreed upon day, twice a month) or workshops with fellowships recipients, outside speakers, and/or faculty members to discuss topics related to teaching and learning,
- participate in two journal club meetings per month,
- complete pre- and post-program surveys, and
- propose and conduct a small teaching intervention/research project on a topic they select. Completing this project will take additional time outside of regular meetings. Assistance with projects is provided by a mentor, selected by each fellow, and MSU CIRTL Steering Committee Members. Fellows are encouraged and supported to disseminate project results on websites, at conferences, and/or in peer-reviewed journals. Each fellow will receive a $2,000 fellowship to help support project expenses and/or travel to a conference to disseminate project findings. In addition, fellows are also highly encouraged to participate in online CIRTL seminars, courses, and MOOCs.