Some Colleges Let Students Be Teachers

Houston Chronicle: “Wearing a ‘Pursuit of Hoppiness’ T-shirt, Rebecca Lee begins a Wednesday night ‘Houston Microbreweries’ course at Rice University with a lesson on Indian Pale Ales … It isn’t your standard course at Rice. Not only because drinking beer is a major component, but because Lee and her co-teacher Alfonso Morera aren’t beer experts. They’re not even professors. Both are Rice undergraduates, and they’re teaching their peers. Rice’s ‘College Courses,’ which launched as a pilot around 2007, has become a fixture at the university. It allows students to teach one-credit classes on niche topics not offered by Rice lecturers and professors.”

“Princeton, Tufts University in Massachusetts, the University of California-Berkeley and other universities across the country offer similar teaching opportunities for undergraduate students … Mike Gustin, a professor of biosciences at Rice, proposed the courses in 2006 after learning that University of Virginia offered a similar program. Rice’s program has evolved over the past 12 years, with students quickly taking advantage of the opportunity to share, learn and congregate over their wide-ranging interests like knitting, counterculture movements in the 1960s, zombies and hip-hop.”

“Graded satisfactory and unsatisfactory, the courses can be taken or taught for credit up to three times, though Gustin said some students have gone on to teach for no credit at all … Students are required to take a six-week pedagogy course, or COLL 300, in which they learn the fundamentals of teaching, including the science behind successful, active learning, and how to frame their ideas in a scholarly way with the goal of providing students with a variety of perspectives and context … In the end, students craft a syllabus, prepare course content, submit a proposal to the dean of students’ office for approval and work with faculty mentors, who actively give them feedback.”