+4 votes
asked ago in Job Market - Candidate Questions by (240 points)
I only ever served as the sole instructor for one course during my PhD, and my reviews were mixed. I have had good experiences in my TA roles, and I think I learned from that one course--I just never had the need to teach a second course funding-wise. Should I explain this shortcoming in my cover letter or teaching statement if a university requests my teaching evaluations as part of the application?
commented ago by (240 points)
Followup question: does it ever make sense to teach additional classes if you're in a situation like OP?

4 Answers

+4 votes
answered ago by (3.5k points)
Don't even think about putting this in your cover letter.

In the teaching statement you can spin this in a positive way...truthfully. Talk about what you learned from student comments and how this will help you adjust your teaching. Be specific.
+2 votes
answered ago by (1.2k points)
I second Startz's opinion. Don't address this issue in the cover letter, you won't have enough space to explain it. In your teaching statement, explain how/what you will do differently based on the feedback you received. Also, highlight any positive feedback.

For your cover letter, you can use more neutral phrasing: "My teaching experience spans several courses and I have served as both a TA and a stand-alone instructor."
0 votes
answered ago by (2.2k points)
But do be sure you have an answer ready for an interview if someone asks you about the negative comments in the student evaluation forms.  It helps to show that you are aware of the issues mentioned.  You could say that you have plans to address them next time or that you think the comments were off-the-mark or anything else that seems relevant.
0 votes
answered ago by (1k points)
Any decent research institution should ignore it. May put you in a tough spot with teaching jobs. It doesn't hurt to communicate if there are special circumstances, or if the comments were unfair.