Thursday, April 12, 2007

Teaching vs. Research (as a PhD student)

It feels somewhat weird to both fill up a survey form about my research experience in Grad School and participate in a roundtable discussion for Graduate Student Instructors on the same day.

On the front page of the Handbook for Faculty, Instructors, and Teaching Assistants given to me is a quote by the University's President:

"Although we are known as a research university, teaching is the core of our mission. We intend to excel at it for the entering undergraduate as well as the Ph.D. student working on advanced research."

Hur hur. I used to dread leading a discussion section, going over homework sets, overseeing the operation of lab equipments and having office hours. Because it takes away time from my lab (same for blogging too, hah!), and I have to spend effort thinking about the solutions to the problems and grading papers.

But it soon became obvious (after being a TA for 3 semesters already) that teaching actually helped me develop a deeper understanding of my undergraduate coursework. There is no doubt that teaching and research reinforce each other, and there is definitely a positive externality to my work. Plus the satisfaction of seeing students learn something beyond textbook knowledge.

Earlier entry on Greg Mankiw's blog.

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