All graduate students in the Department of Chemistry are required to act as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) for at least three semesters. Most students teach one semester each academic year for their first three years. You may decide to teach two courses during your second year, thereby fulfilling the teaching requirement; although, this method is not common because of the heavy load it places on your schedule.

While you are teaching (if you are not on a fellowship) you will be paid by the University, rather than by your research advisor. All students will teach a course during their first year. The first course that you teach will be assigned to you based on your program. Introductory Organic Chemistry (CHEM 3A/B and 112A/B) is taught by most synthetic students in their first year. Physical students usually teach General Chemistry (CHEM 1A or CHEM 4A). Teaching assignments are made during the summer by the department. At the end of each year you will be able to select the top three courses that you would like to teach in the upcoming year. Assignments are then made based on your requests, the professors’ requests, your seniority and your student evaluations.

There are many resources at your disposal for help with teaching. The first is the course instructor. In large classes there is also usually an additional person in charge of the GSIs, called a head GSI, who is a 2nd or 3rd year graduate student that coordinates schedules and holds regular meetings to discuss the upcoming material. This person will help you with any problems among the students in your class, such as cheating, disruptiveness, or other problems. You should also consult the professor in case of any problems. The university also provides help and support through the GSI Teaching and Resource Center. This center honors about fifteen Chemistry graduate students annually with the Outstanding GSI Award.

Logistical Information

First time GSIs in the chemistry department are required to enroll in CHEM 300, a course on teaching pedagogy. This course meets the requirements of the Policy on Appointments and Mentoring of Graduate Student Instructors (effective July 1, 2004). CHEM 300 is a two unit course typically composed of reading assignments, classroom observations, peer observations, and a final project. The course is geared towards helping to familiarize you with the literature in chemistry education and how the topics addressed can be applied to your actual day-to-day GSI duties. Usually there will be two sections of the course offered in order to accommodate your busy graduate course and teaching schedules. You should choose one of these sections to attend for every class session. You are required to earn a passing grade in CHEM 300 before you are employed as a GSI. New graduate students can enroll in this course concurrent with their first GSI appointment.

For the future semesters that you teach, you must register for your GSI appointment as though it were a class – also listed as CHEM 300. The CCNs for CHEM 300 are listed in a booklet available in 419 Latimer and will also be emailed out by the department. Within CHEM 300, there is a different CCN for each course, which are listed based on the course instructor. Once you have identified the correct CCN, you can sign up on CalCentral along with your other classes. You will receive a letter grade from the professor teaching the class, based on your job performance and teaching proficiency as a GSI. Please contact the department for questions regarding your teaching assignment.