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Context: I'm at a SLAC, and have been on numerous search committees at that institution, and a couple at a similar institution.

I think Marcus has it right. The prestige of the professor you TA for is irrelevant at a school where the primary emphasis is on teaching. Prestige is typically won for success in research, and is not a good indicator of how valuable the TA experience will be in terms of teaching development. Further, the fact that the renowned professor picked you to TA for them may or may not be based on teaching skill, and either way, the reasons should be addressed in the letter you got from that faculty member anyway.

Not only does a solo-taught course show that you can design and teach your own courses when you arrive on campus, but it also will help you write a better Teaching Statement. Designing and teaching a course helps you to think about course design in a holistic way - how your goals, assignments, activities, content, etc. align. Plus, the increased autonomy gives you more space to implement new and innovative ideas - exactly the sort of thing you'd want to discuss in detail in your Teaching Statement.


I will just repost what I said to the original question:

Cleinias - TA ships basically mean nothing for almost any job application. Research schools don't care about teaching all that much - any type of teaching. But if they did care, they would care about solo instructed courses. Teaching schools give a ton of credit to solo taught courses and almost no credit to TAships. The prestige of the guy you are TAing for doesn't matter. I doubt many search committee members even look to see who you TA'd for. So the only reason I would take the TAship is if, (1) you are at a top school and the ordinary track of people in your department is to get research jobs, and (2) The professor works in your area, or at least remotely in your area. The reason I would suggest this is not for a direct job market benefit, but because you could get to know the professor which might be helpful as far as him eventually writing you a letter or serving on your committee. Research schools often do care about who writes your letters or who supervises your dissertation.


Just a comment on one of Marcus' points. As PhD student, it was basically impossible for me to solo-teach courses even on my AOS. TA positions were the only way for me to develop a portfolio beyond "Introduction to Philosophy."

On the Market ABD

I TAed for a big name professor whom I normally wouldn't have had much personal contact with in my first year as PhD. We found we got along well and he found my work interesting and he ended up on my committee.

I would say maybe you should take the TAship if you're still very early in your PhD and still wrangling advisors/committee members (and you'll still get the chance to be a solo instructor later). But other than that, I can see no reason to take a TAship over instructing. You get more money for teaching too.


Carr: lots of students have to adjunct to get solo experience. I had to. While I still think in-person is preferable, that is changing, and online classes as sole instructor also have a lot of value . This is nice as it gives opportunities to those who might have a harder time finding adjunct positions. Still, most US universities with PhD programs have adjuncting opportunities within an hour's drive either at community colleges, state universities, or liberal arts schools. Most have community colleges within a few miles.

That being said, it would be far more valuable for someone to teach a solo course of intro to philosophy than TAing anything else. A few solo intro to philosophy courses is great! After all, most teaching schools have a lot of these types of classes. Upper-division courses are a luxury and not the majority of course teaching at most teaching schools, and even quite a few research schools.

Greg Stoutenburg

Another way to get teaching experience while a PhD student is to pick up a few courses as an adjunct instructor at a nearby institution. As universities that grant PhDs in philosophy are typically in college-rich areas, it may not be difficult to find adjunct work on the side. For what it's worth, the committee that interviewed me (in the first round) for my current position only asked me about my community college adjunct teaching experience and not my instructor of record courses at two state flagships.

William Peden


I was in a similar position and didn't have time to take advantage of some potential external opportunities to solo-teach. However, this year, I taught an evening series of lectures/discussion groups for a university's undergraduate philosophy society. While nowhere near as good as running my own course, it has already helped me on the job market.

Trevor Hedberg

Teaching-focused job applications will usually require sample syllabi, teaching evaluations, or a combination of both. Syllabi for courses you have actually taught are going to be more polished and valuable than merely hypothetical syllabi (for a course you might teach), and teaching evaluations for your own courses are vastly more valuable to search committees than assessments of how well you can lead a Friday discussion section. So, in general, the solo teaching experience would be more valuable.

But if the person in question already has significant solo teaching experience and wants to use this GTA position as a chance to familiarize the professor mentioned with their teaching -- presumably so that this person can write the teaching-focused letter in their future job market dossier -- that might be the one scenario where it could be more beneficial to take the GTA position instead.

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