CoAT: Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching
The Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching (CoAT) program offers graduate students a chance to demonstrate their commitment to teaching excellence through training, evaluation, and recognition. Through critical reflection and application, participants learn the fundamental components of pedagogy, enriching their personal growth and professional development in teaching and learning.
The program is designed to provide support and recognition for all graduate students who teach courses at North Carolina State University. Participants may choose to complete the program in one year (2 semesters), a year and a half (3 semesters), or two years (4 semesters). Certificates are awarded at the end of each semester. An awards ceremony is usually held every April.
The CoAT program enables graduate students to:
- Receive a transcript notation for successful completion of the Accomplishment in Teaching program
- Receive an official letter of recommendation
- Earn a Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching
- Receive individualized assistance in teaching
- Prepare a teaching portfolio with guidance and support from the CoAT program director
- Complete the observation process to receive formal feedback on teaching skills
Download this handout to help you complete your journey to success in CoAT. This will help you plan your schedule and meet deadlines.
Download the Fall 2013 CoAT Program Syllabus
- Attend an online orientation session during your first semester in the CoAT program. Online orientation sessions self-directed and include information on how to navigate successfully through the program. Since CoAT is self-directed, you are responsible for your own schedule and progress through the program. More information and dates for live chat sessions will be sent to you after you register for the program.
- Attend six "CoAT approved" workshops. Any of the Fundamentals In Teaching workshops count towards the teaching certificate unless otherwise noted. CoAT participants are required to complete the "Introduction to Teaching" workshop before receiving the certificate. Workshops are offered in person, online, on-demand, and in blended formats.
If you have taken FIT workshops prior to enrolling in CoAT, up to 3 of them may transfer into the program. Some courses such as EAC 786: Teaching in College can transfer as workshops into the CoAT program if they were completed successfully within the previous 12 months before you apply for CoAT. Contact the program director for more information.
- Complete two "Workshop Synthesis and Application" essays. Participants who enroll in CoAT beginning in Fall 2012 are required to write two essays that each synthesize information learned in three CoAT approved workshops, and apply one piece of that information to a teaching tool or strategy developed by the participant. Additional guidelines are provided once you are in the CoAT program. (These two essays replace the six reflection assignments that were previously required.)
- Complete two semesters of teaching experience. The teaching requirement in CoAT is the most flexible part of the program, because TA appointments and teaching responsibilities vary so widely from department to department. For this reason, the qualification for what counts as "teaching" is varied as long as you meet the minimum number of "contact" hours for CoAT. Contact hours are the actual hours of instruction, and CoAT requires that your first teaching experience total a minimum of 15 contact hours. This is the equivalent of teaching for 1 hour, 1 day a week, for 15 weeks in a semester. Your second teaching experience should be twice that amount (30 contact hours).
Teaching responsibilities may be: leading a lecture, leading a lab, leading a recitation session, leading a review or study session for a group of students, filling in for a professor who is away at a conference that day, co-teaching a class with an instructor, leading online discussions as part of a course, leading more lectures towards the end of the semester rather than at the beginning, etc. .
You and your faculty supervisor decide how to best structure those hours based on the design of the course(s) you are assisting with. We can count a variety of teaching activities as part of those contact hours, but the only two tasks we cannot count are office hours or grading. You and your faculty supervisor can design any type of teaching experience that works for you, the professor, and the course(s). Grading does not have to be part of the experience, although for many TAs, it is part of their responsibility.
Note: Sometimes, one prior teaching experience can count towards the certificate, providing the course was taught at NC State and you had instructional responsibility in the course. Contact the program director for more information.
- Complete one classroom observation for each teaching experience. Classroom observations should be completed by your advisor or a faculty member in your discipline. Classroom observation forms will be provided for you, although you can use any form from your department/college.
- Create a teaching portfolio, web site, or final project according to guidelines provided by the CoAT program.
Susanna Klingenberg, Coordinator for Graduate Professional Development Programs
or Barbi Honeycutt, Director of Graduate Professional Development Programs
Trying to decide whether FIT, CoAT, or PTP is right for you? Compare programs by using this handy grid.
"When I started my teaching experience I had no real guidance at first, and I struggled a lot with the first course I taught. After being a part of this program I was able to improve my teaching skills so that the second time I taught the course it was a better experience for me and the students." –Meredith Fotta, Environmental Engineering, 2012
"The CoAT Program challenges us to think about our own purpose and why we decide to become teachers. These workshops and points of engagement with other doctoral or graduate-level students have forced me to go a little deeper when I am preparing for a class, to dig further into my own self in order to understand not only how I learn but ways in which how I learn impacts how I structure learning for others." -Dawn Henderson, Psychology, 2011
"When I started teaching, I had not attended any teaching seminars in advance, and yet my first evaluations were good. I felt that this was a sign that I have a potential as an instructor. However, the constant improvement of my evaluations is something that I owe to the CoAT program [or in general the FIT seminars] and Dr. Barbi Honeycutt who puts so much effort and professionalism to make this succeed. This program did not only improve my teaching strategies, but my communication and leadership skills as well. The exposure to a different student body, than the one I was familiar with, required some further training, and the CoAT contributed to my development in this regard. It is definitely a value-add to NC State University, and I strongly recommend it to every student interested in academia. Thank you!!!" -Sofia Kotsiri, Economics, 2011
"Not only did the CoAT program help me improve as a TA during my time at NC State, it also helped me get a job as an assistant professor at Cal Poly when I graduated. During my interviews I was able to answer questions about my teaching style with ease. I would not have been able to do so without having spent time developing my teaching philosophy and reflecting on my teaching experiences with the help of CoAT instructors. In addition to the CoAT workshops, Dr. Barbi Honeycutt spent time with me one-on-one to work on my teaching portfolio and even wrote a letter of recommendation for me before I completed the program. I believe having Dr. Honeycutt as a reference and an online teaching portfolio helped my job application stand out from the rest. I would recommend the CoAT program to any graduate student with aspirations of becoming a college professor when they graduate.” –Dr. Scott Sink, Forestry, 2009
I was impressed with the fact that NC State's Graduate School has a teaching enhancement program for graduate students. I love to teach and I learned from the Masters here at Cal Poly in a "learn-by-doing" context which is Cal Poly's motto. However, it would have been nice if I had had some training as a graduate student in how to: 1.) prepare a course; 2.) develop learning outcomes; 3.) assess learning outcomes; 4.) think about ways to liven the class up; 5.) include problems in the lecture to get students fully engaged; and 6.) think about the "right way" to engage visual aids and Powerpoint as part of the "learning process" rather than just "covering" the material. Gosh I could on and list many other lessons I have learned on teaching. To know that graduate students can hear about all this as part of their graduate programs at NC State is truly a commendable feat. I was/am impressed that Dr. Scott Sink completed NC State's university teacher preparation program. I am particularly impressed that it is a [1-2] year program. Having that length of time to focus, experience and ponder on teaching is important...Nicely done!!! -Dr. Doug Piirto, Department Head, Natural Resources Management, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA, 2009
"My participation in the CoAT Program was instrumental in forming the core of my teaching philosophy and approach. The workshops I attended as part of CoAT provided exposure to new and innovative teaching techniques (e.g., effective questioning, assessment techniques, active learning exercises, etc.) many of which were geared to developing an interactive classroom environment. These workshops also provided access to online resources that were helpful for implementing these techniques in my classes. Moreover, these workshops were excellent opportunities to interact with other teachers who were either struggling with similar issues or had found unique solutions to problems I was encountering in my classes. Therefore, the CoAT Program showed me how productive attending workshops can be for my teaching. The most important component of the CoAT Program; however was the use of critical reflective summaries after each workshop and teaching observation. I have found that reflection helps to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different teaching techniques and promotes an adaptive and dynamic teaching style." -- Dr. Geoffrey Bell, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, 2009
"Thanks again for everything. This program was very, very helpful in my growth in teaching and in helping to present myself on the job market as an experienced, competent teacher. Last week I got my first offer (from Auburn University), and I know that what I did in the CoAT program was much more than a negligible factor in that." -- Christian Casper, Ph.D., Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media, 2008
"I have to admit that when I first signed up for the CoAT program (and prior to attending any of the workshops) I was very skeptical. To my surprise, I have found the workshops to be very useful and believe that my teaching skills have improved greatly due to this program. In fact, I have found almost all of the workshops to be much more entertaining and useful than I ever imagined. Being a first time teacher last semester this program was incredibly valuable to me. I try to suggest this program to other graduate students with a passion for teaching whenever possible. Thank you very much!" -- Anonymous, 2009
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