A teaching fellow is generally a graduate student at a college or university that teaches undergraduate classes. This educational role requires many of the same responsibilities as a regular professor including course preparation, lecturing, and grading. The purpose is to prepare potential professors for the challenges of leading classes. This job has much more responsibility than a teaching assistant, often including supervision sessions with an experienced professor, and offers a unique financial structure. The role of a teaching fellow in the United Kingdom has a slightly different setup than in other nations.
Teaching fellows are also known as graduate student instructors (GSIs) by many educational institutions. No matter what the title, this responsibility is taken on by a graduate student attempting to achieve a Master's or Doctorate degree and is teaching undergraduate classes in a specialized field of study. GSIs are expected to be experts on the subject matter being taught and be able to properly prepare students for that field of study. A teaching fellow must design course material, present lectures, and handle grading.
The purpose of a university providing a teaching fellow program is normally to prepare the instructor for a career in academia. By handling a class and learning how best to present information and work with undergraduate students, fellows learn by experience. Many graduate programs require Master's and Doctorate candidates to lead a specified number of classes every year. Some programs, on the other hand, make teaching a voluntary activity.
A teaching assistant is sometimes mistaken for a teaching fellow. A teaching assistant is often a role that many fellows hold first; teaching assistants help professors grade papers, answer student questions, and lead discussion groups, but are not in charge of any individual class. A fellow handles teaching on his or her own, but is frequently also supervised by a full-time professor who provides feedback on the fellow's performance. In most situations, a fellow receives a contract on a semester-by-semester basis and receives a financial stipend for this work.
In the United Kingdom, a teaching fellow is a title given to a full member of an academic staff. This person is usually a newcomer to the staff with a lesser amount of experience. This is a gateway role into becoming a professor or lecturer. In other academic situations, referencing a professor as a teaching fellow is simply an additional title or honor bestowed upon that person.