Frequently Asked Questions about the Certificate Program
Who can enroll in the Certificate Program?
Any UC Berkeley graduate student can enroll. However, all activities that fulfill the requirements must be completed as of Fall 2012 or later. All GSIs are encouraged to enroll and can do so by filling out the online Certificate Program Enrollment Form. Enrollment is very simple and takes only a minute or two.
If I am currently unsure about enrolling in the program, can I enroll at a later date (e.g., next semester)?
Absolutely. Students can enroll anytime during their degree program at Berkeley, even if they have already completed some of the requirements. The requirements just need to have been completed as of Fall 2012 or later.
What happens if I enroll but don’t finish the requirements?
While we hope everyone who enrolls will complete the program, there are absolutely no negative repercussions if a student does not do so. No one will contact you. It is better to enroll and not complete the program than to not enroll at all.
How long will it take to complete the certificate?
We anticipate that most graduate students will complete the program in approximately two years. However, there is no limit on the number of semesters you can take to complete the requirements.
Will completion of the Certificate Program appear on my transcript?
No, it will not. You should list completion of the certificate on your c.v. A list of the professional development activities you have completed through the program will also become part of the teaching portfolio you submit for the certificate.
Will completion of the certificate impact my time to degree?
We don’t think it will for the following reasons. The Certificate Program was established in great part to give graduate students credit for the steps they are already taking to work on their teaching while in graduate school. Three of the core requirements for the program are already required by the University (300-level course on teaching in the discipline, attendance at the Teaching Conference, completion of the GSI Professional Standards and Ethics in Teaching online course). In addition, even before the introduction of the Certificate Program, GSIs were increasingly finding value in participating in workshops on teaching, using midterm evaluations of teaching, having faculty observe them in the classroom, and developing a teaching portfolio as a means to improve their teaching and to prepare for future careers. The Certificate Program is a way to formally recognize the steps GSIs take to develop their teaching skills while in graduate school. About 75 other research universities in the U.S. offer such programs.
Who keeps track of my completion of the requirements?
Attendance at the Teaching Conference and Workshops on Teaching, completion of a qualified 300-level course, completion of the online ethics course, and completion of the classroom observation are all being captured in the Graduate Division’s online data management system GLOW (GradLink-on-the-Web). Students can check their own progress by logging into GLOW and clicking on the “GSI Preparation for Teaching” tab: https://
Documents that you must create for the program (e.g., statement of teaching philosophy, original course syllabus, summary of faculty observation, etc.) must be included in the teaching portfolio you submit at the end of the program.
Why can’t workshops, 300-level courses, or other requirements completed prior to Fall 2012 be used to fulfill Certificate Program requirements?
There are two major reasons. First, 300-level courses, which are one of the core requirements of the certificate program, were not reviewed before Fall 2012 to make sure they reached the necessary standard to qualify for the program. Second, a data management process for efficiently tracking attendance and completion of requirements was not available in the Graduate Division’s data system prior to Fall 2012. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources it would take to retroactively collect data from semesters prior to Fall 2012.
If I can’t get the certificate because I completed required activities before Fall 2012, won’t I be at a disadvantage when I go on the academic job market?
No, not necessarily. What matters more than the fact of having a certificate is having taken part in the professional development activities that form the basis of the certificate program and being able to intelligently present and discuss your teaching in the academic job search. If you would like to demonstrate the steps you have taken while in graduate school to develop your teaching skills, we recommend that you include a list of professional development activities you have taken part in either on your c.v. or as a section in your teaching portfolio.
Once all my requirements are completed, will I receive a formal certificate of completion?
Yes, you will. Once you have completed all of the requirements, you will receive a formal certificate signed by the Dean of the Graduate Division.
What are the requirements for the Certificate?
The requirements are these:
- Participation in the all-day Teaching Conference for First-Time GSIs at UC Berkeley
- Successful completion of a 300-level course on pedagogy that has been approved for the Certificate Program, in the relevant discipline
- Successful completion of the GSI Professional Standards and Ethics Online Course
- Participation in six qualifying Workshops on Teaching
- At least two semesters of teaching as a GSI at UC Berkeley
- GSI classroom teaching observation by and consultation with a faculty mentor
- Development of an original course syllabus that you have designed
- Use of mid-semester teaching evaluations
- Creation of a teaching portfolio
These requirements are explained in more detail on the Teaching Certificate Requirements page or by clicking on the links listed above.
Is there a particular order in which I must take the workshops?
No, but it makes sense to take the teaching portfolio workshop before the peer exchange of statements of teaching philosophy. The portfolio should be handed in after all workshops program requirements are completed.
How often is each of the required workshops offered?
Each of the required workshops will be offered once a year.
Are there specific guidelines that must be followed for the faculty observation?
Yes, there are. To qualify for the Certificate Program, these are the steps the GSI and the faculty member should take in conducting the observation:
- The faculty member and GSI meet a day or two before the class. The purpose of this meeting is to walk through the GSI’s lesson plan, review what the GSI wants the students to take away from the class session, and explain how the planned activities will enable students to reach those goals. The GSI should also let the faculty member know if there are any specific areas on which the GSI would like feedback. Please follow the Faculty Observation Checklist.
- The faculty member visits class and takes notes.
- The GSI and faculty member meet within a week of the class observation and compare notes about how the class went, whether the goals the GSI had set out were met, what went well, and what could be done differently the next time. At the end of the meeting, the GSI and faculty member should identify two or three areas of teaching for the GSI to work on. Together, the faculty member and GSI brainstorm steps the GSI could take to work on those areas.
- The GSI, not the faculty member, is responsible for the write-up of the results of the classroom observation. The GSI’s write-up should summarize both the pre- and post-observation discussions and should include the lesson plan and goals for the class session, what went well, areas identified as needing improvement, and a description of the steps the GSI will take to work on those areas. The write-up will be submitted as a required part of the GSI’s teaching portfolio for the Level I Certificate.
- The GSI must complete the Classroom Observation Form within 30 days of the classroom visit. The GSI Teaching & Resource Center will send a message to the faculty member identified on the form to confirm that the observation took place using the guidelines above.
Which faculty member should I ask to observe my class?
Any faculty member you choose to ask may conduct the classroom observation. For example, it could be the faculty member teaching the course in which you are a GSI, the 300-level course instructor, your adviser, or any other faculty member who knows your discipline well enough to be able to comment constructively on what he or she observes during the visit.
Do I need to ask the faculty member to write up a summary of the observation?
No, you are responsible for writing up the summary. You must also complete the Classroom Observation Form within 30 days of the classroom visit. The GSI Teaching & Resource Center will then send a message to the faculty member identified on the form to confirm that the observation took place using the guidelines specified above.
Is there a specific form I need to use for the midterm evaluation?
No, the form used is up to you. Sometimes the faculty member you are teaching with or the department will ask you to use a specific form. Guidelines for conducting midterm evaluations, along with sample forms, can be found in the Teaching Guide for GSIs.
How do I document that I have completed the midterm evaluation requirement?
To fulfill the Certificate Program requirement to use a midterm teaching evaluation, GSIs need to conduct the evaluation, analyze the results, and write up a one- or two-page reflection that outlines the following:
- The course name and number, the date you conducted the midterm evaluation, and the number of students and evaluations
- A summary of what you learned from the input received from the students, both about your teaching and about the students’ learning (look for trending rather than individual comments)
- Changes you will make and goals you will set for your teaching as a result of the midterm assessment.
This reflection, along with the form you use, must be included in the teaching portfolio.
- Teaching Experience
- Statement of Teaching Philosophy
- Syllabus and Course Design: Sample original syllabus with learning objectives, week-by-week assignments, course policies, and basis for evaluation accompanied by narrative course rationale.
- Feedback on Teaching:
- Summary of results and what you have learned from your end-of-semester evaluations. Include in appendices two complete sets of end-of-semester evaluations.
- Summary of results of mid-semester assessment conducted in a course and copy of form used. See further information on presenting the results of your mid-semester assessment.
- Summary of faculty classroom observation written by the GSI. Write-up must describe the process used, what the GSI learned, areas identified for potential improvement, and steps the GSI and faculty member delineated to work on in each area.
- Lesson plan for the class session observed should also be included. See the requirements for the classroom observation.
- Professional Development: List of the courses, workshops, and other activities you have completed for the teaching certificate; include other activities related to teaching improvement that went beyond certificate requirements, if applicable. Please include semester and year.
- Other sections of your choice (optional)
The required workshop Developing a Teaching Portfolio will help you understand each of the portfolio sections.
Is there a deadline for submitting my teaching portfolio?
Yes, there is. Portfolios must be received by November 15 for review in the fall semester and by April 15 for review in the spring semester. Portfolios will only be reviewed twice a year.
If you have additional questions, please contact the GSI Teaching & Resource Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 642-4456, or stop by the GSI Center located in 301 Sproul Hall.