Advancing in Pedagogy: 2019-2020 UTC Testimonials

By John Haberstroh |

One of the underappreciated aspects of graduate school is the entre into teaching. Most of us graduate students came to UCR ready to dive head-first into research and other scholarly pursuits. Yet, the majority of us find ourselves treading water in the deep end of the teaching pool. The challenges posed by teaching inspire brave graduate students to learn how to do more than just tread water. They are inspired to take their pedagogical skills and training to the next level by searching out opportunities to enhance their current teaching practice. One such opportunity is the University Teaching Certificate Program (UTC). The UTC Program offers graduate students training to develop their instructional practices, acquire greater knowledge of equitable and diverse teaching styles, as well as learn the nuts and bolts of curriculum development.

Over the 2019-2020 academic year, 32 UCR graduate students navigated their way through the UTC program. All of these graduate students performed admirably, including learning to embrace the troubles and challenges that accompany learning something new! Unsure whether or not you're ready to take ht plunge, jump into the deep end, and learn the pedagogical equivalent of the backstroke? Maybe it would be helpful to hear directly from the UTC cohort all the ways they felt the program helped them grow as educators. 

Well, I thought that would be helpful as well! Below is a collection of testimonials highlighting the varied ways students feel the UTC Program helped them improve their teaching:

Alessandra Macbeth, Psychology: “I recently landed a tenure-track position at a private liberal arts school where the focus is teaching undergrads (exactly the type of job I was hoping for), which I know would not have been possible without the UTC program!” 


[Image Description: A man holds his hands out whole dollar bills fall from the top of the image as he says, “You’re hired.”]

Pictured: You, following in Alessandra's tenure-track footsteps 


William Ota, EEOB: “The UTC program has made me a more knowledgeable educator and a more empathetic one, helping me to develop a variety of techniques and tools to better engage with my students, in order to help them engage with the classroom material. I have loved going on this journey with my class members as we share our own perspectives and experiences helping students on their educational journey.” 


[Image Description: Hogwarts students toss their caps into the air as they cheer in the great hall.]

Pictured: You, realizing that supporting undergrads in their educational journey is as exciting as winning the house cup


Sajleen Phagura, Environmental Toxicology: “Aside from help in preparing for materials submitted in the portfolio, the most helpful [UTC topics] were topics like diversity, teaching techniques, integration of technology, etc. that would turn any average teacher into a great teacher.”


[Image Description: SpongeBob SquarePants gives two thumbs up.  Multiple other arms pop out of his head, all of which are also given thumbs up.]

Pictured: The reaction to your teaching that your students will have after UTC


Maribel Apuya, Screenwriting: “My thinking about teaching really shifted for the better by examining teaching pedagogies and reading about current and innovative research on techniques that work in the classroom. Best of all, I feel I’ve gained a supportive and compassionate teaching community through UTC, wonderful colleagues whom I can turn to for advice and make the teaching journey more fulling.”


[Image Description: Shuri from Black Panther saying “just because something works doesn’t mean that it cannot be improved.”]

Pictured: The realization you'll come to about your pedagogical development after UTC


Danielle Garceau, Plant Biology: “The feedback, thoughtful assignments, and discussions offered in the UTC program have been invaluable to helping me prepare to apply for positions at teaching-oriented institutions. I highly recommend taking advantage of this great opportunity!”


[Image Description: DJ Khaled gestures with his hands while he says, “Take your opportunity to the next level.”]

Pictured: You, realizing you're ready to take Danielle's advise


Kelly Radecki, Biomedical Sciences: “I love the mix of disciplines in the program. Every class was a discussion from a different corner of campus, and it is the best way to understand as many students and learning models as possible.”


[Image Description: A man lifts a fork-full of food, looks at the viewer, and says, "It's magical. It's a magical mix."]

Pictured: An accurate and true representation of every UTC cohort


Anqi Yu, Material Sciences and Engineering: “What I loved most about the program is that I learned more about the education system in the USA, which benefits a lot for an international student who wants to be a teacher in the USA.”


[Image Description: A teacher gestures with one hand for emphasis while he says, "Thank you!"]

Pictured: You, receiving more tools to prepare you to land the teaching job of your dreams


Shelley Guyton, Anthropology“The learner-centered lessons of the program resonated with my desire to break away from traditional teaching structures, and gave me a way to channel creativity into designing a course. In this way, I found my teaching voice. Now, towards the end of the program, I feel that I can express who I am as an educator, and I have confidence in my abilities to contribute learning-centered courses in my discipline.”

[Image Description: Ming-na Wen looks at the viewer while she says, "We do speak up now. We do have a voice."]

Pictured: You, building your identity as an educator  

As you can see, those who choose to join the not-so-perilous quest of the UTC come out the other side inspired, galvanized, and fortified in their teaching abilities. Should you choose to follow in their footsteps by applying for the Fall 2020 – Winter 2021 UTC program, you too can join the company of UCR’s best and brightest instructors. The deadline to apply for this application cycle is Wednesday, May 20th at 9am. You can find the application here.