Teaching Matters

Training PhD students to be effective laboratory demonstrators

Nadia Tuzi (Senior Academic Tutor) runs a demonstrator training course for PhD students teaching on SBS courses.

Courses run by the School of Biological Sciences (SBS) devote considerable time to laboratory based teaching and skill development e.g. a 20 credit course can have 10 to 30 hours of laboratory practical training. To support our students’ learning we provide trained lab demonstrators (usually PhD students), thus creating small group teaching scenarios, together with an academic floor-leader who oversees the demonstrators and operation of the class.

To prepare demonstrators for this very important role, they are required firstly to attend the School’s training course (run bi-annually). This consists of a mixture of talks, group discussions and directed laboratory role play activities, and receives excellent feedback. The training allows demonstrators to know what the role entails, how best to prepare for this form of teaching, and helps them to develop their teaching and communication skills effectively.

A feedback session for all new demonstrators is held annually, where they have the opportunity to reflect on their teaching, to share their teaching experiences with their peers, to network with other demonstrators and to learn about opportunities to further develop, and gain recognition for, their teaching, for example through initiatives such as the Edinburgh Teaching Award.