gives graduates boost in career
by Dawn Brazell
You can be an expert in your subject, but find it very hard to
teach it to others.
No one knows that better than Ruth M. Patterson, Ed.D., who instructs
the popular Teaching Techniques course (CGS 725) for graduate and
post-doctoral students in MUSC’s College of Graduate
It’s 9 a.m. on a Tuesday morning and she puts up an overhead
informational sheet on the differences in measurement and evaluations,
detailing what makes one version a more valid measurement than another.
She also passes out new handouts that they add to their thick binders
for the class.
“After this class, you’ll be a qualified teacher, and I’ll have to be
worried about my job,” she said, joking.
Not too worried.
College of Graduate Studies Dean Perry V. Halushka M.D., Ph.D., said
the course, which is free for post-doctoral students, consistently gets
high marks. “The students learn the principles of how to be a
successful teacher. They have all commented to me about how helpful her
course is, and that they feel confident that they can be effective
teachers having taken it.”
The class ends with students being required to design and teach a class
in a micro-teach format, on which they are evaluated. A successful
evaluation earns them a MUSC teaching certificate. Patterson said she’s
heard from numerous students that their teaching certificate was
beneficial in the application and interview process. It also helps when
they find themselves in front of a classroom. Just because a person is
the most advanced in his or her technical field, doesn’t mean they can
teach that material well, she said.
“It is really unfair to ask a technical expert to know how to design
lesson plans, plan an integrated curriculum in that field,
understand the variety of learning styles of the students they are
teaching, develop an appropriate syllabus and a myriad of details which
all faculty must work with. Why not give them the tools to make it
less stressful to teach?”
Currently, MUSC is participating in the IRACDA Program (Institutional
Research and Academic Career Development Award) from the National
Institute of General Medical Sciences. MUSC partners with Claflin
University in taking some of the graduates of the Teaching
Techniques course and placing them in the science courses at Claflin,
where they are mentored by full-time faculty in the sciences and
teach classes and labs for the Claflin students, while continuing
their research interests at MUSC. Some of the students also
teach science courses at The Citadel after completing this course,
she said. “Graduates have great success in finding academic positions
after having these teaching experiences.”
Patterson, professor emerita, has been teaching for more than 30 years.
She was named Outstanding Teacher in the College of Health Professions,
and also received the MUSC Teaching Award. She taught in the Masters of
Science in Health Professions Education (MSHPE) program, housed in the
MUSC’s College of Health Professions, for several years. She retired
from that program in 2001, and started teaching this course. She said
the administration and staff have been very supportive.
“They truly believe in the mission of making more effective teachers in
the sciences. I actually look forward to each day I return to MUSC
to teach the teachers of the future.”
Patterson said it gives her a sense of accomplishment to help new
faculty know how to write learning outcomes and behavioral
objectives in the three domains of learning, write lesson plans and a
syllabus for their courses and learn to evaluate students in a valid
and reliable method.
“I think teaching is a science and an art. A science because it has
certain formulas and methods and hierarchies to follow, and then it
becomes an art as teachers continue to craft their lessons and
materials so that students look forward to entering their
Friday, Nov. 19, 2010