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Fourth Year

I am the original poster. To clarify. I am at s top 20 PhD progam but I am teaching at a state school unaffiliated with my program. So, this unaffiliated state school is where the new philosophy department is located. Also, I have so little teaching experience because my fellowship does not require me to teach at all.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Fourth Year: Thanks for clarifying!

I think it's very smart of you to have sought out teaching opportunities during your fellowship. Indeed, I was wondering how you managed to finish a PhD program in only 4 years! That's seriously impressive (I haven't known anyone who has finished a US program that quickly).

All the same, I'm still a bit concerned about the wisdom of grad programs not giving students like you much teaching experience, given the state of the job market. However, it sounds like you are on more of a "research track" for R1 jobs, so perhaps it won't be a problem.

In any case, returning to your initial question, I don't think missing a semester's worth of reviews is a big deal. I would just suggest trying to get more teaching experience if you want to be competitive for teaching schools!


As a current grad student at a private university, we have no teaching requirements, although we are expected to TA for four semesters in five years, which usually means just grading (and occasionally, for some professors, filling in when they are at conferences). I was able to teach two different introductory courses in my time as a grad student, but that is not guaranteed. I have really excellent student reviews from these two courses (and also a very detailed letter from the director of our teaching center), but it is disheartening to hear that those will probably not be taken seriously on the job market. My advisor also observed me teach and has assured me that he will say good things in his letter, but I had hoped the letter from the teaching center director would be more useful (both because she has no direct vested interest in my success, and also because she has a lot to say about my teaching beyond simply two classroom observations). But I wonder whether it would be taken as such by hiring committees since she is trained in pedagogy but doesn't have a degree in philosophy.

Marcus Arvan

Lauren: I think student reviews are often taken seriously. Though they should of course be taken with a grain of salt (students are known to reward easy graders, etc.), students have less of a vested interest in a candidate's success than faculty reviewers. Having served on multiple hiring committees, I can say candidates' teaching dossiers are judged on the whole, not just one thing. It is critical to have the "full package": an excellent teaching philosophy; inventive, thoughtful, professional materials (syllabi, assignments, etc); breadth of experience teaching different courses; etc. Don't be disheartened! There are many, many ways one can document teaching effectiveness.


Hi Marcus, that is helpful to hear that there is something students without years of teaching experience can do to demonstrate teaching effectiveness. I appreciate your help!

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