Report

Graduate Students’ Teaching Experiences Improve Their Methodological Research Skills

Science  19 Aug 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6045, pp. 1037-1039
DOI: 10.1126/science.1204109

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Abstract

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduate students are often encouraged to maximize their engagement with supervised research and minimize teaching obligations. However, the process of teaching students engaged in inquiry provides practice in the application of important research skills. Using a performance rubric, we compared the quality of methodological skills demonstrated in written research proposals for two groups of early career graduate students (those with both teaching and research responsibilities and those with only research responsibilities) at the beginning and end of an academic year. After statistically controlling for preexisting differences between groups, students who both taught and conducted research demonstrate significantly greater improvement in their abilities to generate testable hypotheses and design valid experiments. These results indicate that teaching experience can contribute substantially to the improvement of essential research skills.

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