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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Exploring How We Teach: Lived Experiences, Lessons, and Research about Graduate Instructors by Graduate Instructors


Sam Clem


Utah State University

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


  • In today’s academic environment, students perceive no room for failure. Thus, they do not explore or take risks, and this limits their growth. As a result, the instructor must create opportunities for failure while mitigating the stress associated with failure.
  • Opportunities for failure can be created in the curriculum and course structure through scaffolding, formative assessments, and extensive feedback. The instructor must also adopt a growth mindset when it comes to the students’ abilities.
  • Instructors can create an environment where failure is expected by being vulnerable in the classroom themselves and highlighting their failures and subsequent growth. Graduate students are particularly well-placed to do so because of the proximity of their experience to that of their students.
  • Higher education institutions emphasize learning as a transaction that can be measured and count failure against both students and instructors. Thus, instructors (and students) are incentivized to present themselves as having control and mastery rather than being vulnerable in the classroom. We must overcome these forces to create a shared learning community that emphasizes strong interpersonal relationships in the classroom.