Filling the Expectation Gap: Paleontologists as Teaching Professors

Professional Development for Paleontologists Working Outside of Research-Intensive Positions

Monday, October 12, 2020, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT in conjunction with the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Annual Meeting with three additional follow-on meetings after the conference.

Monday, October 26, 2020, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM EDT follow-on session: Focus on being competitive for and applying for positions.

NEXT MEETING: Monday, November 2, 2020, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM EST follow-on session: Focus on course design, teaching strategies, science of learning, and how to talk about teaching and pedagogy.

Workshop Description

Most graduate students in vertebrate paleontology are trained to be employed in museums or as tenure-track faculty at research-intensive universities. However, because these positions are rare in the best of times, paleontologists often work in teaching-intensive positions, and the realities of those positions do not necessarily match personal expectations and formal training in graduate school. The goal of this workshop is to identify the variety of challenges encountered by paleontologists at institutions other than "R1s" and provide resources, strategies, and support for successfully navigating those challenges. Even if job openings would be few this cycle, this workshop is oriented toward things that aspiring professors can be doing now—integrated course design (with an increased emphasis on online teaching) as well as developing the elements of self-image, professionalism, and work-life balance at teaching-intensive institutions.

This workshop will take place across four online sessions, one during SVP and the rest in the weeks following, based on participant scheduling.


During SVP—Overview of getting and working a position at a teaching-intensive institution

Career paths outside R1s are not really "alternative" careers anymore. How can you position yourself to be competitive for positions at teaching-intensive institutions? Do you want to teach? How can faculty development help your application package now? How can you stay research-active or involved in paleontology without a huge budget? This session will provide an overview of the mindset, challenges, and opportunities for paleontologists who want to work in a teaching-intensive setting.

Follow-up meeting 1 (Monday, October 26th 2-4pm Eastern)—Being competitive for and applying for positions.

Activities will include reviews of CVs, teaching philosophies, and research statements, pitfalls of the cover letter, researching the institution, matching skills to the needs of the position, and awareness of equity and accessibility for students.

Follow-up meeting 2 (Monday, November 2nd, 2-4pm Eastern)—Designing your first course.

We will consider course design/learning science for people with and without lead-instructor experience. Topics will include universal design for instruction, backward course design, Bloom's taxonomy, social presence, and online vs. in-person teaching.

Follow-up meeting 3 (Monday, November 9th, 2-4pm Eastern)—You are still a paleontologist.

We will discuss ways to maintain work-life balance and keeping your "paleontologist" identity despite a decreased emphasis on research.  

Workshop Conveners

Andrea Bair, Delta College (Geoscience)
Allison Beck, Black Hawk College (Biology)
Eric Dewar, Suffolk University (Biology)

      Next Page »