Newest Brown/Wheaton Faculty Fellows enhance teaching bona fides

Over the course of ten years, Wheaton has helped dozens of Brown University graduate students acclimate to teaching.

This year is no exception, as the Brown/Wheaton Faculty Fellows Program has expanded to allow four Brown graduate students to teach at Wheaton this year. Three of them will teach this semester.

Gail Sahar, Associate Provost and Professor of Psychology, coordinates the program. “In my opinion, [the program] has been a great success,” said Sahar. “Each year, Wheaton benefits from the contributions of talented graduate students from Brown University, and these graduate students gain valuable teaching experience and learn what it’s like to be a professor at a liberal arts college.” 

The program allows each of the graduate students to teach an independent course, something that reaps great benefits.

The graduate students currently teaching  are Marius Draeger, teaching organic chemistry, Rebecca Mason, teaching computer science and Steven Swarbrick, teaching “Green Shakespeare” which combines literature with environmental issues.  

Laura Perille, a Ph.D. candidate in history, will teach a course in the spring semester for the History department called “Cross-Cultural Interactions in the Early Modern World.”

The Brown graduate students selected appreciate the helpful experience they’re given in the field. 

“The reason I applied to the Brown/Wheaton Faculty Fellows Program was to further develop my teaching skills, and to gain experience which will be helpful as I apply to faculty positions at liberal arts colleges in the future,” said Rebecca Mason, who is currently teaching in the Computer Science department.

The program also offers Brown graduate students a chance for immersion in a different educational environment: a small liberal arts college.

“Due to the much smaller class sizes at Wheaton, teaching the students becomes a much more interactive experience than the big lectures that we have at Brown, especially for organic chemistry,” said Marius Draeger, who is currently teaching an organic chemistry class.

The program was expanded this year from three graduates to four in order to expand the divisions in which teaching takes place. 

“We have had more Fellows in the humanities than social sciences and fewest of all in the natural sciences.  In the new model, we hope to draw one from each of Brown’s divisions [such as] humanities, social sciences, life sciences, and physical sciences,” Sahar said.

The impact that the Fellows Program has on those involved is a profound one.

“Just the process of having to go through making my own class, coming up with my own problem sets and exams and preparing the lectures for every time that I teach is something I find challenging but enjoyable,” said Draeger.