Internship Overview

Each semester, the Delta Program supports a new cohort of graduate students and postdocs who partner with faculty and staff to complete a teaching-as-research (TAR) project by applying a question-driven inquiry cycle to develop, guest teach and assess a teaching plan (up to ~ 1 week of instruction). Internships can involve any teaching and learning context, from higher education or K12 classrooms to outreach, informal, online synchronous or asynchronous, laboratory or mentoring-based experiences.

All internship projects involve:

  • develop and implement a teaching plan using backwards design
  • write a project proposal following the TAR cycle applied to this teaching plan (including identify challenges, ask a TAR question, summarize the literature, plan data analysis)
  • guest teach the plan (up to 1 week of instruction), and
  • summarize evidence of student learning, reflect, create final materials (usually a poster)

Internship alumni say:

“The Delta Internship helped me to apply scientific inquiry to the classroom in ways I’d never considered”

“I really do credit my TAR project with helping me get my faculty job”

Why do an Internship?

  • Become a more effective, evidence-based teacher. Effective, adjective: Successful in producing a desired or intended result. Learn how to ask and answer questions about your students’ learning.
  • Gain experience you can leverage in your job application materials, interviews and teaching & learning portfolio. Be able to discuss something you did beyond TA’ing, and show evidence of your commitment to innovative teaching.
  • Explore a teaching approach that interests you with the support of mentors and a cohort. Try using backwards design in a real teaching and learning experience.
  • Choose your own adventure. Internship projects can take place anywhere people are learning, and address any challenge in student learning that aligns with your future career goals.
  • Prepare for the Delta Certificate in Teaching & Learning. The internship is part of the Delta Certificate requirements.
  • Demonstrate reflective teaching. Incorporate your internship project and reflections into your teaching portfolio.

What is Teaching-as-Research?

Graduate students and postdocs discuss their interpretation of the purpose of Teaching-as-Research in this video

All interns complete a teaching-as-research (TAR) process

A circle moving from creating learning outcomes, assessments and activities to summarizing and reflecting on student learning.

Click here for the internship steps in detail


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What is the Delta Internship Program

The Delta Internship Program provides graduate students and postdoctoral researchers the opportunity to develop teaching and learning skills in real-world situations. Each semester, the Delta Program supports a new cohort of interns who partner with faculty and staff to improve teaching practices and learning environments through teaching-as-research projects. Interns develop, teach, and summarize teaching plans that aim to improve learning in a classroom, lab, outreach program or other venue.

Who can participate?

Graduate students and post-doctoral researchers from any discipline are welcome to start an internship upon completion of a semester-long Delta course or its equivalent, as well as the four-week preparatory mini-course. Often interns take the prepatory mini-course  while completing their prerequisite course.

Faculty and instructional staff participate as intern partners. They offer feedback and guidance on the development of the teaching plan, guest teaching, and the assessment of its effectiveness.

Why should I do an internship project, and what am I going to learn from participating?

Do you want to learn to be a more effective, evidence-based educator? Want to be able to talk about something you actually did in your job interview? Are you curious about a particular assessment or teaching method you have heard about? You might want learn how to integrate active learning into large lectures…address a misconception that affects the learning of a particular tricky concept…improve student motivation and retention, or design and implement a flipped classroom module.

The internship is an opportunity to get real experience in teaching: plan instruction, evaluate how it works, and hopefully, help improve the learning outcomes of students. Each project is different, providing an experience to help each intern reach individual career goals- whether in outreach, industry, or higher education.

In the process, you’ll learn how to become a reflective practitioner of evidence-based teaching, and prepare for responsibilities you’ll face in the classroom as a future faculty member. Becoming a Delta intern is also a great opportunity to network with other people excited about teaching.

What are the prerequisites for doing an internship?

The prequisites to join a cohort are: Completing (1) one semester-long teaching and learning course, as well as (2) the four-week preparatory series (3) Find an intern project.

1. The teaching and learning course can include local Delta courses or CIRTL online courses, both asynchronous and synchronous, as well as partner offerings or approved alternatives (consult us as needed). Courses include Effective Teaching with Technology, The College Classroom, Diversity in the College Classroom, Instructional Materials Development, and Informal Education.

2. The four week internship preparation series, which can be taken concurrently with your teaching and learning course.

3. We offer open internship opportunities, or you may find your own placement. See ‘steps in detail‘ for further information.

What is the timing of an internship and how much time do I need to commit?

The internship experience consists of the four week preparatory series in the prior semester (offered in April and summer for fall interns, or November for spring interns) plus a semester-long cohort experience (spring or fall). The seminar meets weekly for two hours.

Duration: Usually the 4-week series + 1 semester. Some interns choose to reiterate their project, or support their faculty partner in sustaining their project, in subsequent semesters.

Time commitment: Most internships are not funded. When the 2019 cohorts were asked in the midterm survey to estimate the weekly time during the semester the internship was taking them, 53% said <5 hours, 42% said 5-10 hours, and 5% said over 10 hours/week. This includes observations of the course, meetings with faculty partner, work on the teaching plan, guest teaching, and attendance at the program seminar (2h/week).

When during the year do the cohorts begin and how do you join a cohort of interns?

The 4-week evidence-based teaching series is held in spring and fall. Intern cohorts are held each semester.

To join a cohort: Enroll in the 4-week evidence-based teaching series the prior semester, then complete a registration survey for the internship. Those who have recently taken, or are currently taking, a Delta or CIRTL course will receive an invitation to join the 4-week series.

What kinds of internship projects have been done?

While every Internship project is different, some examples include, but are not limited to:

• Integrating an active learning method into a course or module of a course

• Transforming a “cookbook” laboratory module to inquiry-based instruction

• Incorporating a technology to improve student learning

• Designing student-centered assessments to improve student learning

Where do I find current internship opportunities available through Delta?

You can find current internship opportunities on our website at:

Where can internship projects happen-do they have to be at UW?

Anywhere students are learning! Past internship projects have been conducted at Madison College to Edgewood, K-12 schools, outreach programs and as  far away as India. You might also consider a different UW campus.

Do I need approval from my advisor in order to participate in the Delta Internship program

Yes. While a graduate student or postdoc’s focus rightly rests with their core disciplinary research and writing, the Delta Program believes it is important for any future teaching position to ensure professional development around teaching and learning. Because the support and encouragement of the research advisor is important to the success of any internship project, we do require interns to receive signed consent from their advisor (via the Advisor Approval Form) prior to the program.

How is an internship different from a TA position?

An intern’s role with a course is to develop and guest teach up to one week of instruction, then summarize and report on student learning. Some may have other roles within the course, as mutually agreed to in conversation with the faculty partner. This might include other guest teaching, course development, assessment grading, syllabus design, etc. Determining the intern’s role is part of the ‘kickoff conversation’ guided by the initial project agreement prompts (see steps in detail).

Can I use my upcoming TA experience in my internship?

Absolutely! You would shape a project around making a teaching plan and guest teaching a day of the course that you are TA’ing. It often works best to pick an area that students have historically found challenging (for example, a tricky concept, or an area where test scores historically have been low). The internship seminar and experience will be in addition to your TA responsibilities.

Should I work with my research advisor/PI as my intern faculty partner?

That depends! In some cases, it can be a great fit for your research advisor or PI to be a faculty partner and we’ve had many interns complete very successful, rewarding projects with their research PI’s. Other times, though, we find that people work with their advisors primarily just because it’s someone they already know- so consider the ideas below, and we’re happy to help you find a good fit.

For those who don’t know many faculty on campus or have strong mentoring networks, this can be a rare opportunity to develop mentor relationships and make connections. Faculty or academic staff intern partners might offer you a different perspective, insight into a position they hold that is more aligned with your career goals (and future letters of recommendation).

The most important thing is that your intern partner be modeling a teaching approach that interests you. So another consideration is whether your PI is using engaged, active teaching approaches or primarily passive, lecture-based teaching.