The Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education (JUNE)
Acquiring a faculty position in academia is extremely competitive and now typically requires more than just solid research skills and knowledge of one’s field. Recruiting institutions currently desire new faculty that can teach effectively, but few postdoctoral positions provide any training in teaching methods. Fellowships in Research and Science Teaching (FIRST) is a successful postdoctoral training program funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) providing training in both research and teaching methodology. The FIRST program provides fellows with outstanding interdisciplinary biomedical research training in fields such as neuroscience. The postdoctoral research experience is integrated with a teaching program which includes a How to Teach course, instruction in classroom technology and course development and mentored teaching. During their mentored teaching experiences, fellows are encouraged to explore innovative teaching methodologies and to perform science teaching research to improve classroom learning. FIRST fellows teaching neuroscience to undergraduates have observed that many of these students have difficulty with the topic of neuroscience. Therefore, we investigated the effects of interactive teaching methods for this topic. We tested two interactive teaching methodologies to determine if they would improve learning and retention of this information when compared with standard lectures. The interactive methods for teaching action potentials increased understanding and retention. Therefore, FIRST provides excellent teaching training, partly by enhancing the ability of fellows to integrate innovative teaching methods into their instruction. This training in turn provides fellows that matriculate from this program more of the characteristics that hiring institutions desire in their new faculty.
Keen-Rhinehart, E., Eisen, A., Eaton, D., McCormack, K., Interactive Methods for Teaching Action Potentials, an Example of Teaching Innovation from Neuroscience Postdoctoral Fellows in the Fellowships in Research and Science Teaching (FIRST) Program. The Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education (JUNE), Spring 2009, 7(2):A74-A79.