Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

graduate student teaching awards

Nominations due:
Friday, February 8, 2012

Submit 12 CDs, DVDs, or USB sticks, each containing a single PDF of the complete nomination packet to:

Michelle Pierson
Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence

125 Cyert Hall

Looking for Graduate Student Service Awards?

Carnegie Mellon University’s Graduate Student Teaching Award is given annually to recognize a graduate student who has demonstrated exemplary teaching. The award is intended to foster a culture of teaching excellence among graduate TAs and instructors.

Examples of teaching excellence recognized by the Graduate Student Teaching Award can include, but are not limited to:
  • outstanding teaching in the classroom, laboratory or studio
  • creation or use of new and innovative teaching methods and course materials
  • effectiveness in grading/feedback, review sessions or one-on-one instruction
  • creation of challenging and innovative courses
The award is announced at a public ceremony open to the entire university community in the late spring. Award recipients receive an engraved tray and a monetary honorarium. Honorable mentions receive letters of commendation.

All current Carnegie Mellon graduate students who have demonstrated substantial effectiveness in teaching are eligible for nomination. Students who have been nominated or received honorable mentions in the past can be nominated again. However, previous winners are ineligible for nomination.

The Provost is responsible for the administration of the nomination and selection process, including calling for proposals and convening the selection committee.

The Selection Committee

The Graduate Student Teaching Award selection committee consists of:

  • three faculty members appointed by the Provost
  • three graduate students (including the most recent recipient of the Graduate Student Teaching Award if he or she is available and/or other graduate students selected by the Graduate Student Association)
  • two undergraduate students selected through a process developed by the Dean of Student Affairs
  • the chairperson of the committee (the Associate Director of the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence, a non-voting member). If the Associate Director is unavailable, the Provost will appoint a senior faculty member who is not an administrator to act in the Associate Director's stead.

The Selection Process

After reviewing the nomination packets, the committee makes its recommendation to the Provost by mid-March. Upon the Provost’s approval, the award recipient is notified and the award is presented at a public ceremony open to the entire university community in late spring.

Nominations may be submitted by any member of the Carnegie Mellon community and should describe the qualities and activities of the nominee that make him or her an excellent candidate for the award.

Twelve CDs, DVDs, or USB sticks, each containing a single PDF of the complete nomination packet, must be submitted on or before Friday, February 8, 2013 to the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence, Cyert Hall 125. Questions can be directed to Hilary Schuldt, associate director of the Eberly Center and chair of the selection committee.

Nomination packages must include:

  • A letter from the nominator, addressed to the Graduate Student Teaching Award Committee summarizing the individual's teaching accomplishments. The author(s) of this letter are responsible, in consultation with the relevant department head or his or her designee, for preparing the full case for that nomination following the attached Guidelines.
  • Additional letters of recommendation from faculty, current and former students, and other colleagues who have substantive knowledge of the nominee's teaching. An unlimited number of letters will be accepted, including e-mail. Guidelines are available on request suggesting issues these letters should address.
  • A statement of teaching philosophy from the candidate.
  • Additional supporting materials. These materials should represent the quality of a nominee's teaching accomplishments and provide direct information about the nominee's teaching. Nominators may request specific materials from the graduate student nominee, but are not required to do so.

Supporting Materials

Nominators may include the following kinds of information, when available and relevant:

Letters from students

Letters should be solicited from a sizable sample of students, preferably representing different courses or diverse pedagogical methods (e.g., discussions, lectures, group projects). Both formal letters and e-mail are acceptable. Students should be asked to comment, among other things, on the following questions:

  • How accessible and supportive was the nominee?
  • How well organized were the individual class sessions of the nominee?
  • What types of learning activities and teaching strategies did the nominee use particularly effectively?
  • Does the nominee create a learning atmosphere in which all students feel respected?

Letters from faculty or peers

Letters regarding the quality of the nominee's instruction should be supplied from people who taught with the nominee or who observed his or her teaching in person or on videotape.

Course evaluations

When available, the Faculty Course Evaluation scores or other systematic student evaluations of teaching should be supplied for all courses the nominee taught at Carnegie Mellon. The evaluation scores should be supplemented with information on the number of students enrolled in each course, whether the students were majors or non-majors, and whether the nominee served as instructor or teaching assistant for the course. Responses to open-ended questions as well as numerical scores should be included. Please include information on how the comments were selected to be included in the package (e.g., all available comments, at random, the best ones).

Additional evidence of the nominee's contributions may include...

  • Examples of outstanding teaching materials created by the nominee, e.g., a paper or project assignment, solution sets for homework, supplementary handouts, syllabi, textbook materials authored by the nominee, or samples of the nominee's feedback on student work.
  • Descriptions of the nominee's contributions to the teaching development of others, for example, contributions to regular TA meetings, TA training at the department, college, or university level, and/or helpful feedback on teaching to peers.
  • Descriptions of the nominee's contributions to his or her department's educational programs. Such contributions might include serving on teaching-related committees, supervising or mentoring undergraduate students, presenting papers or writing articles about teaching, or organizing educational or professional development opportunities for other students.

Please limit materials pertinent to this subsection to 50 pages. Videotapes should not be submitted.

NOTE: The committee recommends that nominators allow 3-4 weeks to solicit and compile supporting materials from students, faculty, and the nominee.