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Career Advice for Life Scientists Volumes I & II Career Advice for Life Scientists Volumes I & IIThe Impostor Phenomenon ave you ever felt that you did not deserve the professional status you have achieved or the Hrecognition you have received for your career accomplishments? Do you wonder whether being admitted to graduate school, being awarded your Ph.D., being offered an exciting postdoc position, or getting a “real job” was just a mistake on the part of others who will eventually figure that out and expose your inadequacy? If so, you may be demonstrating a classic case of the Impostor Phenomenon—you and perhaps as many as half of your colleagues The term “Impostor Phenomenon” was coined by psychology professor Pauline Rose Clance and psy- Sue Wick chotherapist Suzanne Imes in 1978 to describe a sample University of Minnesota of more than 150 high-achieving women. Impostor Phenomenon (also known as the “Impostor Syndrome”) has been defined variously as the persist- ent belief in one’s lack of competence, skill or intelli- gence in the face of consistent objective data to the con- trary; an internal experience of intellectual fraudulence, particularly among high-achievers; the belief that one is Do you wonder whether being admitted to graduate school, being awarded your Ph.D., being offered an exciting post- doc position, or getting a “real job” was just a mistake on the part of others who will eventually figure that out and expose your inadequacy? not deserving of his/her career success and that others have been deceived into thinking otherwise; an intense subjective fear of the inability to repeat past success; a self-concept that one’s record of accomplishments is not 4 CAREER ADVICE FOR LIFE SCIENTISTSTHE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR CELL BIOLOGY due to ability but rather only to luck, fate, Personality Type Indicator. (Introversion, as charm, attractiveness, or having manipulated defined by Myers-Briggs testing, is a charac- other people’s impressions; the secret convic- teristic of many scientists.) Those who feel tion that one is truly less intelligent and com- like impostors often believe that many deci- petent than he/she appears; and an unrealis- sions affecting them are made by other peo- tic sense of one’s competence in which one ple (and they may be right—Ph.D. qualifying downplays strengths and exaggerates or does not tolerate any deficiencies or weaknesses. Those who feel like impostors Numerous doctoral theses and research papers have examined the type of person often believe that many decisions who tends to fall prey to the Impostor affecting them are made by other Phenomenon, and several psychological test- people. ing instruments have been devised to meas- ure the degree of manifestation. While origi- nally suspected as a problem primarily exam committees or tenure and promotion afflicting women, subsequent studies have committees, perhaps?) Those who experience made it clear that similar numbers of men the Impostor Phenomenon are likely to see also experience impostor feelings. In some intelligence as a fixed entity and not a mal- professions, men experience more severe leable quality. They are very achievement- cases of Impostor Syndrome. For example, oriented. They are motivated in academic set- within a group of faculty members, men tings by the need to look smart; when faced with learning difficulties, they become anx- ious, shameful, and concerned about looking While originally suspected as a bad compared to others. problem primarily afflicting According to the literature, certain family situations tend to spawn impostor feelings. women, subsequent studies have These include not receiving encouragement made it clear that similar to pursue educational or career aspirations numbers of men also experience because they conflict with, or at least are atypical of, the gender role, race, or age impostor feelings. expectations of the family. Particularly for women, having goals that will put you out- scored higher for the Impostor Phenomenon side your family’s socioeconomic class may than women did, whereas groups of college have the same result. Families that impose students showed the opposite results. People unrealistic standards, those in which there is in non-professional occupations likewise are only selective validation, or those in which susceptible to the impostor phenomenon. there is much conflict and expressed anger Some characteristics and tendencies are also put children at risk for developing the generally correlated with people who feel impostor phenomenon. Growing up with an like impostors. Such people may have feel- alcoholic or incestuous parent or in another ings of depression, anxiety, fear of failure and kind of dysfunctional family can lead to high of being discovered as a fraud; a propensity levels of impostorism. (Such serious factors to feel shame, low self-esteem, and introver- can also lead to psychosis such as Multiple sion as determined by the Myers-Briggs Personality Disorder.) CHAPTER 1 • THE HEAD GAME 5does not have a high tolerance for these situations. Studies report that, at least for Families that impose unrealistic some people, having a mentor is helpful standards, those in which there for overcoming the sense of fraudulence. is only selective validation, (Presumably, having a mentor who under- stands the impostor phenomenon would or those in which there is much be optimal.) Clance and her co-workers conflict and expressed anger suggest that the most positive results are also put children at risk for obtained through regular meetings with a group of people who can give honest feed- developing the impostor back about their perceptions of your abili- phenomenon. ties. Such groups can be very good at pointing out when your self-perception Racial identity attitudes apparently have about talents and achievements is distort- influences also. Research on African American graduate and professional stu- ...having a mentor is helpful dents reveals that those who had attended for overcoming the sense of historically black undergraduate institutions and/or who relied strongly on spiritual fraudulence. beliefs when making decisions about educa- tional or career goals were much less likely to feel like impostors. ed, i.e., out of line with what they observe. Thus, they can help you learn to acknowledge your competence. Making ...those who had attended the effort to find an effective mentor and assemble a support group for yourself may historically black undergraduate be the key not only to survival but also to institutions and/or who relied improving your self esteem during your strongly on spiritual beliefs grad school experience, job probationary period, or even the middle or advanced when making decisions about stages of your career. educational or career goals were much less likely to feel like Making the effort to find an impostors. effective mentor and assemble a support group for yourself may The good news is that the self-deprecat- be the survival. ing and debilitating feelings associated with the impostor phenomenon appear to decrease as a person remains in a particular position or attains a higher rank—that is, Clance also recommends a three-point unless the person perceives job uncertainty, exercise for those who recognize that they ambiguous job expectations, or a high have impostor traits, as published in New degree of challenge in their position and Woman magazine: 6 CAREER ADVICE FOR LIFE SCIENTISTSTHE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR CELL BIOLOGY • document both positive feedback and your Langford, J. (1991). The need to look smart: The impostor phenomenon and motivations for learning. Doctoral doubts about its authenticity. This exercise Dissertation, Georgia State University-College of Arts and “will demonstrate how you discount the Sciences. Dissertation Abstracts International. opinions of other people,” says Clance; Langford, J. and P. R. Clance (1993). “The impostor phe- nomenon: Recent research findings regarding dynamics, personality and family patterns and their implications for • examine the messages that you may have treatment.” Psychotherapy 30: 495-501. Milton, S. and R. J. Mattox (1988). “A study of the impos- received about yourself from your family tor phenomenon in high achieving college students.” Journal and others. Understanding where your of College Student Development 29: 380-381. Reinert, L. M. (1991). Influences of family and work on negative self-image comes from can women managers exhibiting the impostor phenomenon. empower you to break free, and Doctoral Dissertation, Temple University. Dissertation Abstracts International. Reis, S. M. (1987). “We can’t change what we don’t rec- • imagine telling your peers and superiors ognize: Understanding the special needs of gifted females.” how you have fooled them. Realize how Gifted Child Quarterly 31: 83-89. Robinson, S. L. and S. K. Goodpaster (1991). “The effects ridiculous you would sound. ■ of parental alcoholism on perception of control and impostor phenomenon.” Current Psychology: Research & Reviews 10: 113-119. Teece, J. K. (1990). Adult children of alcoholics and the References experience of the impostor phenomenon: The development of the ‘false self’ in a dysfunctional family system. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Maryland College Park. Brown, D. B. (1994). “Are you an impostor?” New Dissertation International. Woman June: 46. Topping, M. E. H. (1983). The impostor phenomenon: A Byrnes, K. D. and D. Lester (1995). “The impostor phe- study of its construct and incidence in university faculty nomenon in teachers and accountants.” Psychological members. Doctoral Dissertation, University of South Florida. Reports 77: 350. Dissertation Abstracts International. Cherpas, C. C. (1989). The generalizability of the impos- tor phenomenon to adults employed in professional and Other relevant articles: nonprofessional occupations. Doctoral Dissertation, Kent Author unknown (1986). The impostor syndrome. State University. Dissertation Abstracts International. Management Solutions 31: 18-19. Clance, P. R., D. Dingman, et al. (1995). “Impostor phe- Clance, P R.. and S.A. Imes (1978). “The impostor phe- nomenon in an interpersonal/social context: Origins and nomenon in high achieving women: Dynamics and thera- treatment.” Women & Therapy 16: 79-95. peutic intervention.” Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Cohen, E. S. (1990). The impostor phenomenon: An inter- Practice 15: 241-247. actionist perspective. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Clance, P R.. and M. A. O’Toole (1987). “The impostor Toronto, Doctoral Dissertations International. phenomenon: An internal barrier to empowerment and Ewing, K. M. (1990). Effect of racial identity attitudes and achievement. Special Issue: Treating women’s fear of fail- world view on African- American graduate and professional ure.” Women and Therapy 6: 51-64. students’ experience of the impostor phenomenon style and Ewing, K. M., T. Q. Richardson, et al. (1996). “The rela- locus of control. Doctoral Dissertation, California School of tionship between racial identity attitudes, world view, and Professional Psychology. Dissertation Abstracts African American graduate students’ experience of the International. impostor phenomenon.” Journal of Black Psychology 22: Hayes, K. M. and S. F. Davis (1993). “Interpersonal flexi- 53-66. bility, type A individuals, and the impostor phenomenon.” Harvey, J.C and C. Katz (1985). If I’m so successful, why Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 31: 323-325. do I feel like a fake?, St. Martin’s Press; New York. Jamail, S. R. (1992). Predicting the impostor phenomenon MacKay, B. (1988). “The Impostor Syndrome: Why some in successful career women. Doctoral Dissertation, Miami successful people feel like fakes.” Chatelaine 61: 30. Inst. of Psychology of the Caribbean Ctr. for Advanced Miller, D. G. and S. M. Kastburg (1995). “Of blue collars Studies. Dissertation Abstracts International. and ivory towers: Women from blue-collar backgrounds in King, J. E. and E. L. Cooley (1995). “Achievement orien- higher education. Special Issue: Adult women’s talent devel- tation and the impostor phenomenon among college stu- opment.” Roeper Review 18: 27-33. dents.” Contemporary Educational Psychology 200: 304-312. CHAPTER 1 • THE HEAD GAME 7Saying “No” s the countdown to the next millennium draws closer, it seems that the life of a working cell Abiologist grows more hectic everyday: too many commitments, too many demands, days that are too short. How do you manage your time and keep control of your professional and personal life? “No” is one of the most powerful words in the English language. When I was asked to write this arti- cle, my first inclination was to say “No”. But I said “Yes”, because I felt that I had the responsibility to do so. I have learned to control my life, get satisfaction from doing an excellent job, make decisions, take chances, and have fun. So, how do you decide when to Zena Werb say “No” and, more importantly, when to say “Yes”? University of California San Francisco When to Say “Yes” The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Saying “Yes” always has a cost, even when there is a benefit. Develop a clear concept of your reasons for say- ing “Yes” or “No” to requests. First ask, “do I have the time?” There are time-consuming activities that need to be done for career advancement, personal interest, or Trust your inner voice that you are doing things for the right reasons. other positive motives. Set career objectives and priori- ties, realizing the inherent obligations. However, recog- nize that there is a fine line between entitlement and helping out. Try to avoid being exploited. Secondly, ask, “do I know how to do this?” If you do not have the expertise, then avoid the challenge. A poor job benefits no one. Setting priorities helps to develop a set of responses, although not all situations are black and white. Trust 8 CAREER ADVICE FOR LIFE SCIENTISTSTHE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR CELL BIOLOGY your inner voice that you are doing things for activities that have these goals, even at the the right reasons. Some examples of these are expense of other requests. included below. Being a good citizen. While managing Why to Say “Yes” time is a prime goal, good citizenship is Analyze why you say “Yes.” Do you agree expected, too. Agreeing to laboratory, univer- to do things for the wrong reasons? Here is a sity and public duties is an essential part of small set of examples: the scientific and educational endeavor. Flattery. Are you seduced into saying Science is largely self-motivated and self- “Yes,” because you are told that you are the governed. We all need to take part, but you only one who would do a stellar job? Are you don’t need to be a saint. flattered to be asked to give a lecture by a Responsibility. Faculty members, stu- caller who tells you how wonderful your last dents, post-docs, teachers, researchers, and article is, and how only you will make their administrators have certain duties and lecture series complete? Perhaps you are responsibilities to teach, serve on committees, approached by an old graduate school buddy mentor and engage in public service. It is irre- to review a grant, manuscript, or college pro- sponsible to shirk these responsibilities, or to gram because you have the unique and perfect do such a bad job that you will not be asked qualifications to do a good job. Accept the to do them in the future. compliment graciously, but do not agree to the flatterer’s request as payment for the praise. Recognition that is only of value as a com- Science is largely self-motivated modity is not worth the paper it is written on. and self-governed. We all need to take part, but you don’t need Are you flattered to be asked to to be a saint. give a lecture by a caller who tells you how wonderful your Career Advancement. Visibility and recog- last article is, and how only you nition of research activities and teaching are essential to move ahead in a career as a scien- will make their lecture series tist. A career involves investment and sacri- complete? fice, such as agreeing to write review articles, giving research seminars, attending meet- ings, reviewing papers and grants, and get- Criticism. This is just as effective as praise ting involved in the activities of your school for getting people to do things they do not and professional societies. Be as selective as want to do. The hint that someone is not a possible to achieve the most from the most dedicated teacher or a sensitive mentor low- efficient expenditure of time. Quality counts ers self-esteem and coerces others into mak- more than quantity. ing a commitment for fear of offending some- Interest. Define your specific interests one. Take time to evaluate your imperfec- when setting priorities. If you are passionate tions, the source of the criticism, and its intent about encouraging girls to get interested in before agreeing to do something. science, mentoring graduate students, or Desire for approval. Do you say “Yes” to interacting with politicians, then say “Yes” to teaching an additional course during a semes- CHAPTER 1 • THE HEAD GAME 9ter off for research, or sitting on twice as many teaching a third introductory course so that committees as your colleagues, because the the department does not have to hire another department chair will approve of going lecturer? If no one else is willing to do these beyond the call of duty? The problem with things, perhaps they are not worth doing. saying “Yes” for approval is that soon those Don’t be manipulated because others are extra tasks become an expectation. When you irresponsible with their deadlines. Resist the take on more tasks to show how indispensa- temptation to do other peoples’ work because ble you are, you eventually burn out. they are chronically late, or do such a poor job that they appear to be incompetent and will not be asked again. The problem with saying “Yes” Guilt. If you feel guilty about having gone for approval is that soon those on vacation, taken a sabbatical, taken parental leave, or made a mistake, wait until extra tasks become an expectation. the guilt subsides before committing to any additional responsibilities. Intimidation. Do you say “Yes” to unrea- sonable requests out of fear for your profes- Resist the temptation to do sional life? For example, do you do extra shifts, postpone a planned vacation to do another set other peoples’ work because they of experiments, show up at a meeting or revise are chronically late, or do such a the curriculum at two days’ notice because the poor job that they appear to be requester hints that if you don’t you will not get a merit increase, a good letter of recommenda- incompetent and will not be tion, or a positive recommendation for tenure? asked again. Insecurity makes people do unnecessary things out of fear of offending a supervisor. Avoiding conflict. Too often people say “Yes” to avoid conflict at all costs. They end When to Say “No” up being a de facto martyr, and see them- Saying “No” is essential to achieving your selves as powerless to change their lives, time personal and professional goals. It is an indi- management, space, or salary. cation that you value your time, energy, tal- Greed. Do you agree to teach a course in ents and experience, and that you control the summer rather than taking the time to do your life. Striking a balance between enjoying research or write a paper, because you will life as a cell biologist and resenting the get paid extra? Do you say “Yes” to give a lec- demands put upon you is essential to person- ture at a boring meeting, because they will al and professional empowerment. give you a large honorarium? There is noth- Saying “No” can be a right or an option. ing wrong with being self-serving so long as You have the right to say “No” if you have it is not at the expense of something more questions about the ethics, professional stan- important in the long run. dards or quality of the request. You have the Picking up the slack. Do others take right to invoke your conscience in making advantage of your inability to say “No” to decisions. You have the option of declining dump unpopular tasks on you, such as clear- career-building duties, if the timing is wrong, ing out 50-year-old department files, or you can’t do a good job, or meet a deadline. 10 CAREER ADVICE FOR LIFE SCIENTISTSTHE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR CELL BIOLOGY Your priorities are critical factors in saying Offer alternatives by suggesting someone “No”. It is essential to have plans for achiev- else to do the work, or giving a student or ing goals. It helps to make a list of everything fellow the chance to give the talk or write to which you say “Yes” and “No” over a the review. However, be careful that super- month or year to evaluate how you are doing. vising the substitute is not time-consuming. Once a pattern emerges, begin planning for a year, five years, a career. Don’t feel guilty. It is not up to Once you have learned to say “No,” avoid you to solve everyone’s problems using your newfound assertiveness as a weapon to refuse to do tasks with sadistic or to do everything. glee. This can boomerang. How to Say “No” Sometimes, saying “No” actually post- Learning to say “No” is not negativism. It pones saying “Yes.” Maybe you can’t do it actually frees you to say “Yes” to the things now because of your teaching schedule, but that really matter. It is essential to make you can do it next semester. choices. There is a world of difference Be prepared for people who do not want between knowing what you do not want to “No” for an answer to have difficulty get- do and refusing to do it, and knowing what ting the point. If the person persists after you want and going for it. Get advice from several “No” answers, try silence, or change friends and colleagues that seem to have their the subject. priorities right. If you feel that you are being manipulated Using “No” is more powerful in declining or volunteered, verbalize your desire to be than saying, “I don’t think so.” It helps to consulted first. practice saying “No” to friends, family or lab- It is OK to change a “Yes” answer to a mates. If you resent always doing the order- “No” answer. ing, replenishing the photocopier paper, or Finally, don’t feel guilty. It is not up to taking a speaker out to dinner, then take a you to solve everyone’s problems or to do stand and say “No” everything. ■ Determine whether the answer is, “No”, “Yes” or “Maybe.” It is OK to ask for time to References 1. Helpful Hints for Assertive Behavior: Saying “No”. think it over. Ascertain exactly what the Michigan State Counseling Center. http://web.couns. request entails. Is one lecture or a whole 2. Consulting Skills For Professionals. Murray Hiebert course needed? and Colleagues, Inc. How to Say “NO,” with Options. While it is not necessary to offer an expla- nation for your refusal, it is often useful to 3. Smith, Manuel J. Yes, I can say no: a parent’s guide to assertiveness training for children. New York: Arbor House, give a brief legitimate reason for saying 1986. “No”. Avoid a long, drawn-out excuse or 4. Fensterheim, Herbert and Baer, Jean. Don’t say yes when you want to say no: how assertiveness training can explanation, or you may be argued out of change your life. New York: McKay, 1975. your refusal. 5. Chenevert, Melodie. STAT: special techniques in You can say “No”, while agreeing to do assertiveness training for women in the health professions. 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby, 1994. part of the request. CHAPTER 1 • THE HEAD GAME 11Unwritten Rules for Advancing Your Career nwritten rules: those tidbits of information that can make or break a first impression or a repu- Utation. How does a cell biologist discover the unwritten rules of an organization and protect and ensure their career advancement by fulfilling unstated expectations? Following are some of the most common unwritten rules and advice on how to address them: Mentors Are Key Sources of Information It may seem that the role of mentors as the panacea of a scientist’s career is exaggerated, but they truly are important figures. Most successful people, no matter Caroline Kane from what field, can name at least one person senior to University of California themselves who was instrumental in their success and Berkeley with whom they have had a long-term relationship. But a mentor does not have to be narrowly defined, nor represent an exclusive relationship. Mentors are those individuals in an organization that have the “neces- sary” knowledge. Seek out colleagues to discuss scien- tific matters, such as how much unpublished informa- tion to reveal to a competitor, as well as more mundane but still important matters, such as how to dress for an invited seminar. Maureen Brandon Meeting Expectations Idaho State University The first unwritten rule is ‘do not expect the written rules to cover everything.’ Young scientists should meet regularly with their supervisors to assess their progress. Ask for constructive criticism and advice. In an academic environment, it may be important to clar- ify how many publications (and in which types of jour- nals) are necessary for tenure or promotion, or how much time to devote to service at the institutional and national level. In addition, teaching is usually taken seriously, even at institutions with a heavy emphasis on research productivity for promotion. 12 CAREER ADVICE FOR LIFE SCIENTISTSTHE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR CELL BIOLOGY If the written rules at an institution seem to sion before citing it in your manuscript. be in a state of flux, the junior scientist is com- Always ask before acting: a reputation as a pelled to be in frequent communication with trusted colleague may depend on it. supervisors and other more senior scientists. Obtain clearly stated guidelines for advance- Managing Employees and ment that can be referenced at promotion time. Students These should be available in writing as they are Most scientists are not trained in manage- indeed the written rules. Get a copy of them. ment techniques, so learning skills to manage students and staff may feel like trial by fire. However, classes and books on general man- agement skills that apply to any work situa- Obtain clearly stated guidelines tion are easily available. The most efficient for advancement that can be way to learn management skills may be to referenced at promotion time. observe and speak with scientific and busi- There are ways to accomplish Promote Yourself Junior scientists must take steps to pro- self-promotion without mote themselves, or no one else will. offending others by being overly However, there are ways to accomplish self- aggressive or compromising promotion without offending others by being overly aggressive or compromising your own your own personality. personality. When an opportunity arises for an award, membership on a prestigious com- mittee or even a choice class schedule, ness colleagues who appear to have approach the individual making the selection admirable management styles. From these with a document delineating your credentials, discussions, young scientists need to develop qualifications and accomplishments that their own standards and expectations for make you an attractive candidate. Mentors their employees that are then stated and writ- can be extremely helpful in this situation by ten clearly and reinforced frequently. Be advising a young scientist about what oppor- aware that students and staff may not have tunities to pursue and speaking to selection committees on behalf of their protégé. Most scientists are not trained in management techniques, so Territoriality Never assume that ideas, space or equip- learning skills to manage ment have common ownership. The micro- students and staff may feel like centrifuge in the third floor cold room might trial by fire. belong to the senior research scientist on the fourth floor. The empty shelf in that same cold room may have been cleared by the the same career goals as their supervisors, so chair’s graduate students to store precious their expectations may need to be determined clinical samples arriving the next day. If a col- as well. These are essential skills for a scien- league shares unpublished data, ask permis- tist, since one’s career advancement is often CHAPTER 1 • THE HEAD GAME 13directly proportional to the productivity of atmosphere of a department, appropriate staff and students. dress or behavior, personalities of other organization members, and what senior peo- Conflict Resolution Like management techniques, conflict reso- Secretaries, administrative lution is an essential skill for which scientists are not trained specifically. Books or work- assistants and staff members of shops on conflict resolution are available, but an organization are often vast a few simple rules may be enough to defuse storehouses of information. most situations. Use time, space and/or humor to place distance between dissenting ple can “get away with” while junior people Young scientists would be wise cannot. For questions that are too sensitive to broach with local colleagues, speaking to to choose their battles carefully mentors at other institutions by phone or e- to avoid being labeled mail is an excellent solution. In addition, the contentious. internet may be a quick way to obtain infor- mation about management or conflict resolu- tion skills, to name a couple. individuals. Obtain another perspective of the Although mastering the unwritten rules of problem by speaking to someone who is famil- scientific society may seem daunting, the key iar with the individuals. If necessary, bring in is identifying the few individuals with the a neutral party to help resolve the issue. Young most information. After this, mastering the scientists would be wise to choose their battles written rules will seem like a piece of cake ■ carefully to avoid being labeled contentious. This article was based on a Women in Cell Biology Use All Available Resources Committee presentation of “The Unwritten Secretaries, administrative assistants and Rules” at the ASCB 40th Annual Meeting in San staff members of an organization are often Francisco in December 2000. Caroline Kane mod- vast storehouses of information. They can erated the session, which featured Mina Bissell, often help with questions about the general Frank Solomon, Julie Theriot and Donella Wilson. 14 CAREER ADVICE FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS2. TEACHING & LEARNING The Scholarship of Teaching Teaching Science in High School Getting the Most from Your Graduate ExperienceThe Scholarship of Teaching ew faculty members commonly make their instructional debut by diving head-first into Nteaching, with little formal training or prepa- ration in pedagogy, to either sink or swim. Naturally, many instructors adopt a teaching method based pri- marily on how they were taught as students. This seems reasonable, but is it effective? Although effectiveness as a teacher is difficult to measure, any such measurement should be based on its impact on student learning. The central importance of learning was highlighted in the seminal article, “From Teaching to Learning—A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education” (1995), and more recently Christopher Dobson in the national videoconference, Tools for Transformation: Front Range Community College Making the Learning Paradigm a Reality (1999). The pur- pose of both was to advocate systemic change at a national level that would place the focus of educators on learning. Effectiveness as a teacher is difficult to measure; any such measurement should be based on its impact on student learning. Many instructors attempt to improve their teaching over time by adopting ad hoc pedagogical techniques. But without systematic and purposeful implementa- tion, an individual’s teaching method may not change significantly over the course of a career. While instruc- tors often measure their teaching effectiveness by the successes of their students after graduation, some stu- dents may succeed in spite of our teaching, not because of it. Instructors at all levels need a formal and compre- hensive treatment, a scholarship of teaching, with the 16 CAREER ADVICE FOR LIFE SCIENTISTSTHE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR CELL BIOLOGY ultimate goal of increasing student learning. actively reflect on their teaching, openly In addition, educators need a working model inviting constructive criticism from peers. that they can use to guide their professional Scholars are receptive to new ideas and development in a systematic and purposeful demonstrate a willingness to try new teach- manner over the course of their careers. Such ing techniques. a model must be general enough to encom- pass as many aspects of teaching as possible, Traits that characterize the yet specific enough to have practical value. mindset of a scholarly approach include inquiry, reflection and Without systematic and receptiveness. purposeful implementation, an individual’s teaching method This scholarly mindset drives an explo- may not change significantly ration of one’s teaching through activities, such as discovery, integration, application over the course of a career. and interaction. Discoveries germane to teaching can be made through classroom The model presented here is based on the observation, experimentation and assess- concept of scholarship defined by Ernest ment, as well as through activities, such as Boyer in Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of reviewing the literature and attending con- the Professoriate (1990). Boyer’s development ferences. Scholars integrate the results of this of scholarship, however, was in relation to exploration with their knowledge of peda- discipline-specific research, rather than teach- gogy and apply their findings to future teach- ing per se. Our model embraces three distinct ing methods in the classroom. Scholars share yet overlapping elements that coalesce to their discoveries by interacting with col- form the body of one’s teaching. These ele- leagues through discussion, publications and ments are a scholarly approach, rationale and presentations. classroom practice. In brief, successful teach- Since teachers are unique individuals, suc- ers have a rationale for their teaching meth- cess in any component of our model is rela- ods, based on an adequate knowledge of their tive, and subject to continual refinement. discipline and pedagogy that translates into Serving as a road map, the model can guide effective classroom practice. The scholarly an educator’s professional development by approach, which consists of a mindset that targeting specific components of the model compels a persistent exploration of one’s for development. teaching, serves as the mechanism that con- The scholarly approach is not new. tinues to inform an educator’s rationale and Academic researchers typically employ a classroom practice over time. It is the most scholarly approach when contributing to central and cohesive element of the model. knowledge in their field. They are inherently Traits that characterize the mindset of a inquisitive and reflective about their study scholarly approach include inquiry, reflection subject, engaging in various methods of dis- and receptiveness. Inquisitive scholars con- covery, integration, application and interac- tinually question teaching methods with the tion. Readily apparent in the sciences, purpose of improving student learning. They researchers regularly investigate the causal CHAPTER 2 • TEACHING & LEARNING 17relationships of natural phenomena. During this exploration, it is essential that Some students may succeed in researchers be receptive to new ideas and spite of our teaching, not demonstrate a willingness to modify their because of it. methods as needed. Integration of findings with an existing understanding of their field and application of this product is crucial in By practicing a scholarship of teaching, realizing the larger implications of their educators can accumulate a number of teach- work. Interaction with colleagues through ing strategies, each based on sound rationale publications and presentations is the natural and intended for specific learning situations. culmination of their efforts. Over time they acquire a portable toolbox of pedagogical methods and the ability to dis- cern opportunities for employing various Teachers can approach the techniques. In other words, they become excellent classroom practitioners whose classroom as researchers and methods are prescribed by a rationale based attempt to assess the effectiveness on a sound knowledge of their discipline and of both their teaching and their pedagogy, which is tested and strengthened over time by a vigorous scholarly approach. ■ impact on student learning. Sharolyn Belzer and Stephen Burton were instru- The scholarly approach, typically seen in mental in the development of this model. research, can be directed with the same rigor to developing aspects of one’s teach- References ing rationale and classroom practice. For Barr, Robert B. and John Tagg. 1995. From Teaching to example, teachers can approach the class- Learning—A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education. room as researchers and attempt to assess Change, November/ December. Boyer, Ernest L. 1990. Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the effectiveness of both their teaching and the Professoriate. The Carnegie Foundation for the their impact on student learning. Based on Advancement of Teaching, Princeton, New Jersey. this evaluation, educators can modify both Tools for Transformation: Making the Learning Paradigm a Reality. Produced by Palomar College and presented via their rationale and classroom practice satellite by PBS, February, 4, 1999. accordingly. 18 CAREER ADVICE FOR LIFE SCIENTISTSTeaching Science in High School cell biologist has the special opportunity to present science as a living discipline to a high Aschool biology or chemistry class. The experi- ences of designing experiments, interpreting results, writing papers, and applying for grants are unique qualifications that will enrich the understanding and appreciation of science for a biology or chemistry stu- dent. Students will benefit from a teacher who can teach science as a process instead of a simple collection of facts. Students will benefit from a teacher William Wallace who can teach science as a process Georgetown Day High School instead of a simple collection of facts. Why Would a Scientist Want to Teach? Abstractly, the intellectual challenge is to present biology as a unified view of the world, and as an ongo- ing process of inquiry. This view includes presenting “big pictures” of such diverse concepts as ecology, evo- lution, physiology and molecular biology. However, even more important is to guide the students toward an understanding of the connections between each of these disciplines. The students are more likely to remember these connections than the specific facts of any one topic. In addition, there is the challenge of teaching students to think skeptically, like a scientist, through the scientific method. On a personal level, teaching can be tremendously satisfying for the academic and personal effects that a teacher can have on the development of a student. The simple fact that they have done science gives any sci- entist-teacher a number of unique advantages. First, being a participant of the discipline of biology, a scien- CHAPTER 2 • TEACHING & LEARNING 19tist brings a certain enthusiasm for the subject that will infect the students, especially if it is Teaching can be tremendously a topic that he or she actively researched in satisfying for the academic and the laboratory. Second, the scientist will have personal effects that a teacher a greater credibility for any point of view. The can have on the development of a student. Nothing impresses a student more than to discuss personal freedom to start an experiment or write a experiences with a scientist who manuscript when they roll into the lab. Generally, a high school science teacher is introduced in a textbook. has four or five classes (a total of 60 to 150 students, depending upon the school) in two speculation of a scientist-teacher has great or three different levels (called “preps”). weight even if it is a profession of igno- Scientist-teachers need to fight the urge to rance. Third, a scientist-teacher can make a present every lesson as a seminar. In fact, topic come alive with anecdotes from his or talks with slides should be avoided. Instead, her own career experiences. Nothing introduce the topic and then have the stu- impresses a student more than to discuss dents take over the discussion. It is amazing personal experiences with a scientist who is how relatively little time a teacher needs to introduced in a textbook. Students love to talk. The teacher does need to become an hear of the foibles of scientists, especially “expert” in a wide range of various topics, famous ones. Great lessons can be taught such as ecological succession or punctate about the process of biology through such equilibrium, so that they can be sure that the anecdotes. Finally, a scientist-teacher has students extract the important points from spent a career making a network of friends, each of these concepts. colleagues and mentors that can be exploit- ed for the benefit of students. These connec- It is amazing how relatively tions can be used as potential research hosts for motivated students or as expert speak- little time a teacher needs ers for the whole class. to talk. What Is it Like to Teach? For the first few years, teaching requires a In addition to teaching classes, the obliga- similar time commitment as does research. tions of teachers include contributions to the This time commitment includes actual con- community of the school. This obligation can tact time with students (both in and out of the include coaching sports, drama or sponsor- classroom), preparation for classes and ing a club. It is an important part of the assessments of the students. However, the teacher’s job to make this commitment, even manner in which teachers organize their day if the school does not officially require it. So a differs from research because they are obli- typical day will start at 7:00 AM and finish gated to be prepared and present a lesson at around 5:00 PM, excluding any after-school set times during the day: they do not have the activities such as sports or clubs. 20 CAREER ADVICE FOR LIFE SCIENTISTSTHE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR CELL BIOLOGY Three other important reasons to teach are will need to take classes in educational tech- June, July and August. The summer is an niques. Completing the necessary classes amazing time for possibilities, academic or takes approximately four semesters, and otherwise. It is surprising how enjoyable it is includes topics such as child psychology and to work in a research lab during this time instructional methods. Perhaps most impor- without having to produce any papers. tant, classes will include a teaching internship with a master teacher in a local school. Many public school systems work closely with local Three other important reasons colleges to offer an education program that is to teach are June, July and certifiable in that school district. For example, the Fairfax schools cooperate with George August. Mason University, which offers classes in the evening to interfere as little as possible with a The starting salary for a teacher varies candidate’s day job. Eventually, a competence with experience and level of education. In the test (called a Praxis Examination) must be Fairfax, Virginia public schools, a starting passed for certification. teacher with a Ph.D. can earn about 40,000 Public school systems are generally willing annually (slightly less with a Master’s to give selected candidates who are not yet degree), while in private schools the salary certified provisional contracts that last three will generally be slightly lower. to five years. These contracts allow the scien- tist to begin teaching immediately under the How to Get a Teaching Position provision that the scientist will undertake the The application process in private schools education program for certification in the is different than in public schools. Private first years of teaching. schools have greater flexibility to judge the qualifications of each teaching candidate. How to Get Started Therefore, applying for a teaching position in As an applicant for a teaching position, private schools is much less complicated. A any school system will be looking for experi- candidate can simply send a letter of interest ences with teaching. An application from a and an accompanying resume. scientist should emphasize a commitment to Public schools require a more complicated teach. The number of publications and grants application process because they require will not impress a school system. Instead, a teaching certification. Each state has its own resume needs to show experience in teaching qualifications for determining certification. high school students, and an interest in edu- Myra Thayer of the Fairfax County Public cational issues. Schools states that the certification process There are numerous opportunities to gain examines competence in both science content experience teaching biology to high school (for example, an understanding of all the con- students. For example, a scientist can talk at a cepts of biology) and pedagogy (teaching local school — this obligation is very small. skills). While scientists will have less difficul- As long as the scientist makes an earnest ty in proving competence in science content effort to reach his audience (i.e. do not pres- (although a cell biologist will need to know a ent your most recent research seminar), no more diverse view of biology, such as popu- matter what is presented, the students will be lation ecology and evolution), usually they grateful. A slightly greater obligation is to CHAPTER 2 • TEACHING & LEARNING 21mentor a student through a research project does not contain these elements. Other ways in the laboratory. This mentorship should be that a scientist can get experience teaching at an active intellectual involvement of the stu- the high school level include helping a local school system with the biology curriculum, or teaching a course in contemporary meth- The satisfaction of having a ods in cellular or molecular biology for high former student return to tell school teachers. Local schools (public or private) are you she is becoming a biologist always interested in taking advantage of the because of your teaching matches experiences of scientists to teach. For private the thrills of an acceptance schools, it is easier to talk directly with prin- cipals or science department chairs, while in letter from Nature or a positive public schools, administrators (such as cur- pink sheet for an NIH grant ricular specialists) will be the initial contacts. application. These officials can be used as sources of infor- mation and advice for an application. Take dent in the research, not simply having the advantage of their knowledge and willing- student “shadow” in the lab. The project ness to help. should include a beginning (framing a bio- Teaching high school is a wonderful way logical question and hypothesis), a middle to use your research experiences to influence (performing the experiments to test the a child’s life. The satisfaction of having a for- hypothesis), and an end (writing a report mer student return to tell you that he or she is that summarizes the entire project). The stu- becoming a biologist because of your teach- dent does not need to win the Nobel Prize ing matches the thrills of an acceptance letter with the project, nor even produce a publica- from Nature or a positive pink sheet for an tion, but it is cheating the student if a project NIH grant application. ■ 22 CAREER ADVICE FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS

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