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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Teaching Workshop II

To receive a certificate for the teaching workshop, each of us has to do a final (capstone) project. This entails choosing a topic in education related to our field, and writing a 3-5 page summary of a seminar we would give on that topic, listing the motivation, objectives, and pedagogy.

Based on my experiences (especially over the past few weeks writing this thesis) and on a very interesting paper I posted last week, I have chosen my topic to be the Impostor Syndrome. This topic is extremely important because it is rampant in the sciences, it has greatly affected me personally, very rarely do people accept its existence, let alone actually addressing it, and it's just plain interesting.

The project is due at the end of June, so I have some time to do some research. That is where you come in, my readers! I am planning to use group discussions throughout, but I want to make sure certain key points/strategies are hit on before moving on in the seminar.

First, a short summary: The Impostor Syndrome is an inability to internalize accomplishments. People that suffer from it do not believe they deserve the success they have achieved, even if there is evidence to the contrary. They often minimize their successes/abilities (i.e., it's because of luck, timing, etc.) and feel like they don't belong or that they are a fraud and will be "found out". It is especially prevalent at the graduate level. My seminar will discuss the syndrome, what events cause/perpetuate it, ways to address it at the undergraduate level, and the importance of not knowing in scientific research.

What I want you to help me with is some answers/examples for the following two major discussions/brain-storming sessions in the seminar:

1. A group discussion on the causes of the Impostor Syndrome. These can be examples from personal experiences, or just general thoughts (i.e., in undergrad, you're taught to get the right answer, and this might not be possible in research; professors are made out like they know everything already; etc.).

2. A brainstorming session on how to address the issue at the undergraduate level (i.e., giving problems where only the method is asked for; having guest speakers talk about road blocks in research, and how they overcame them; etc.).

So, let me hear it! How have you felt like an impostor in academia (or otherwise)? When did it affect you the most? What situations perpetuated it? Did any situation help alleviate it? What would you do to address it with undergraduate students?

I look forward to your thoughts!!