Graduate Students are integral to teaching for our two undergraduate degrees in Geography and Environment and Society.  Teaching can be an incredibly rewarding experience, can help improve your own understanding of the subject, can enhance your research, and will help build your resume.  The instructor of record (IOR) is responsible for designing and implementing the course curriculum, effectively communicating with undergraduate students, and evaluating learning outcomes.  Online mentors support an IOR, participate in grading and evaluation, and interact with students.

Who can serve as the IOR?

Graduate students must meet the following criteria to serve as the IOR for 1000 or 2000 level course:

  • Master’s degree or accumulate at least 18 total credit hours (Master’s students and PhD students with a Master’s degree) to be eligible to be IOR.
  • A score of 50 or higher on FSU’s SPEAK test, or 26 or higher on the speaking portion of the IBTOEFL.

In addition, graduate students must meet the following criteria to serve as the IOR for a 3000 or 4000 level course:

  • Master’s degree or at least 30 total hours of graduate coursework in the teaching discipline.

How do we assign IORs and the courses they teach?

Assigning teaching roles can be a complex process.  In general, in descending order of importance, these are the criteria for assigning IORs to courses.

  1. Departmental needs. 1st and 2nd year PhD students with Masters degrees may need to teach courses somewhat outside of their research expertise;
  2. Student’s topical expertise and demonstrated teaching proficiency;
  3. Student’s career goals (e.g. university research, teaching college, private sector);
  4. Student’s past teaching assignments and requests. This will be prioritized by:
    • Sufficient progress in the PhD program;
    • Seniority

In summary, 1st and 2nd year PhD students with Masters degrees will likely teach 1000-2000 courses.  Some 3rd and 4th year students will teach upper level (3000/4000) level courses.

How many courses will I need to prepare?

We will try to limit the number of new IOR course preparations.  However, PhD students may be asked to teach up to three different courses over four years.  The graduate committee recognizes that some students prefer to reteach courses to improve their teaching quality and effectiveness and will try to accommodate these preferences when feasible.

Instructor of Record Responsibility

Class start time & Absence: Graduate students must maintain high teaching standards. They must start classes at the scheduled time and end no earlier than 10 minutes before the scheduled end time. Instructors missing class time must arrange for someone to cover the class, post a recorded lecture, or other distance learning materials to make up the missed class time.  Classes should not be cancelled unless due to sickness or other unforeseen circumstances.  In this circumstance, instructors must inform their undergraduate students (by email or Canvas) and call the Department front desk.
Syllabus: Syllabus must conform to FSU standards Required language & Liberal studies.  This includes policies on University Attendance, Academic Honor Policy, American with Disabilities Act, and Syllabus Change Policy.

  • Accommodating students with disabilities: Instructors should provide academic accommodations for students with disabilities who have registered with the Student Disability Resource Center and provided a letter from the Center noting the types of accommodations required. If an instructor is unsure how to accommodate these students, they should reach out to the Graduate Program Director or Academic Program Specialist for guidance or contact the Student Disability Resource Center. http://www.disabilitycenter.fsu.edu/

Mandatory First Day Attendance Policy: Students must be dropped by the instructor if they do not attend the first class meeting. University-wide policy requires all students to attend the first class meeting of all classes for which they are registered. It remains the student’s responsibility to verify course drops and check that fees are adjusted.
Last week of classes: No tests can be given in the last week of teaching, immediately prior to exam week.


Teaching quality is assessed in part by Electronic Student Perception of Courses and Instructors (eSPCI) and implemented BEFORE finals week. Teaching assistants will also be observed for at least one class per semester by a faculty member or more senior graduate student, who will provide the instructor with constructive feedback. If a student is receiving low eSPCI assessments (below the university average score) or requests assistance, the department will suggest resources and a plan of action for improving teaching. For more information on teaching and conduct please refer to the FSU Graduate Bulletin.

Course Disruption

Class Disruption: Students are expected to participate in class activities without causing disruption or infringing on the rights of others. They are also expected to comply with the reasonable order of any University official, including an instructor. Behavior that does not meet these standards can subject the student to charges under the Student Conduct Code.

  1. Instructor should attempt to work with the students.  However, instructors may ask students to leave class when their behavior is disrupting the learning process.
  2. Instructors who have concerns about disruptive student behavior should contact the Dean of Students. If you are concerned for the immediate safety of yourself or the students in your class, immediately contact FSU PDFSU Police Department

If an instructor is concerned about the well-being, safety, or a behavior of a student in their class, they can report these concerns to Report FSU, a site that allows you to share important information regarding incidents or concerning behavior happening in the Florida State University community. https://report.fsu.edu/

TA’s/Online Mentors

This section discusses the priorities for assigning students to be online mentors.

  1. New PhD students will serve as online mentors during their first semester in the department. The purpose of this policy is to help students adjust to a new university and strengthen their time management skills.
  2. Funded MA/MS students who have taken fewer than 18 credit hours may only serve as TAs/mentors.
  3. PhD students who are on track to graduate will be given preference for online mentor positions in their anticipated last or second to last semester (Fall or Spring) of their 4th year (5th year if entering without a MA/MS). This policy will provide time to focus on dissertation writing and support their graduation on time.
  4. International students without English proficiency are ineligible to serve as instructors of record. They may be designated as online mentors for a limited period.
  5. Faculty serving as instructor of record may request a specific student to serve as an online mentor.