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Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor/Teaching Assistant Award

This award recognizes the efforts and accomplishments of graduate students who teach undergraduates in Communication Studies and demonstrate extraordinary dedication and excellence as teachers and mentors. Faculty members, course staff, and students at all levels are encouraged to nominate graduate students who display the highest levels of commitment, creativity, and skill in the classroom. Selection will be made by the department Curriculum Committee or their designee(s). Recipients will be notified in the spring quarter, and awards will be presented with the other graduate student awards.

Nomination happens in two phases.

Phase 1: Nomination
Award candidates must be nominated by early winter, with the deadline and details specified in an announcement each fall. Nominations should cover undergraduate teaching completed during the preceding calendar year (i.e., a January 2017 nomination would cover Winter, Spring and Fall of 2016) or earlier. Graduate students who graduated during the preceding academic year are eligible to be nominated.

A nomination should include the nominee’s name and a letter of support from the nominating individual (see below). Nominators may nominate only one instructor/TA per annual nominating session.

For Nominations from Undergraduate Students: If you feel your instructor or TA is an excellent teacher (or you’ve had a previous TA or graduate instructor that is excellent in the classroom), please consider nominating them by completing the nomination form.

For Nominations from Faculty, Staff, and Graduate Students: Students are expected to demonstrate exceptional ability, continuous growth and creativity as teachers; service as outstanding mentors and advisors to their students and colleagues; and growth as scholars in the course of their graduate programs. Below are suggestions for faculty-written letters.

Faculty letters should be 1-3 pages and may speak to any or all of the following:

  • An assessment of the teaching contributions of the nominee, emphasizing innovative and effective approaches used in the classroom. Give specific examples, such as use of active learning, approaches to teach students from diverse backgrounds, and innovative use of instructional technology.
  • Evidence for the exceptional and exemplary qualities of the nominee in the context of the department or program. Give examples of activities that go beyond excellent classroom teaching, such as curriculum development activities and service to teaching and learning in the department and the discipline.
  • Indicators of commitment to excellence in teaching, including participation in professional development around teaching and interest in the scholarship of effective teaching. Instances may include, for example, participation in Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching programs, earning of the teaching certifications, and active interest in assessment of student learning outcomes.
  • Examples that demonstrate dedication to excellence in mentoring undergraduates.

Nominations should be sent to Theresa Bratanch (theresab@northwestern.edu).

Phase 2: Soliciting Nominee Materials
Once nominations have been received, each nominee will be contacted and — assuming they wish to be considered for the award — asked immediately to provide the name of an individual to write a second letter of support. In addition, each nominee will be asked to provide a statement of teaching philosophy, a current CV, relevant CTEC results and an academic transcript. These must be provided by the first day of spring quarter.

If you have any questions about nominating a graduate student instructor or TA, please contact Theresa Bratanch (theresab@northwestern.edu).