Internship Overview

Collage of 3 Delta Internship participants presenting their internship project posters.

The Delta Internship is an opportunity to get real experience by completing a teaching-a-research project: plan instruction, implement evaluate how it works, and help improve the learning outcomes of students. Each project is unique, providing an experience to reach individual career goals — whether in outreach, industry, or higher education. By completing a Delta Internship, you will:

  • Become a more effective, evidence-based educator.
  • Try a teaching method or work on a goal you are interested in, such as integrating active learning into large lectures, improving student motivation and retention, or designing and implementing a flipped classroom module.
  • Be able to talk about something you actually did in your job interview.

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

The best way to get started on a Delta Internship is to sign up for a Delta course so you can participate in the next pre-internship short course Teaching Plan 4-Week Series.

Picture of Laura, a Delta Alum

Laura
Professor of Mechanical Engineering

“The Delta program gave me the resources to consider teaching from a scholarly perspective; introducing me to new approaches and, even more powerful, the evidence to support the use of these techniques in the classroom.”

Read More About Laura

Delta Internship Process

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Prerequisites

2 delta symbols stacked.

Take course(s) to complete at least 2 Δ’s (deltas)

  1. You must complete 2 total Δ’s (deltas) by taking Delta-approved courses. Most Delta-approved courses count as 1 or 2 Δ’s. All of our course listings indicate how they satisfy this requirement. Delta-approved courses include Delta courses, CIRTL online courses, partner offerings (such as WISCIENCE programs), or approved teaching professional development you’ve completed in other departments or institutions (consult us as needed). Courses include Effective Teaching with Technology, The College Classroom, Diversity in the College Classroom, Informal Science Education, and Exploring Practices in the Classroom.Evidenced-based teaching icon, which shows a magnifying glass inspected a printed sheet of paper.

    Complete Teaching Plan 4-Week Series and identify a project

  2. The Teaching Plan 4-Week Series prepares you for the internship. In order to participate, you must have taken coursework that counts for at least 2 Δ’s. This four-week series will explore key topics in evidence-based teaching as you build an aligned teaching plan: measurable learning outcomes, assessments that promote learning, and equitable and engaging activities. Discussions of creating learning communities and learning through diversity are interwoven throughout. Participants will leave with a backwards-designed teaching plan that might be used in a teaching portfolio or guest teaching experience.

  3. Identify an internship project and faculty partner. We are happy to help you find a great project! See the FAQ “How do I find an internship project?”

Internship Semester

Internship Seminar Icon

Participate in the Internship Seminar

The Delta Internship Seminar meets weekly for two hours through the semester, and walks you through a Teaching-as-Research (TAR) cycle. In the seminar, you will:

    • develop your project following the TAR cycle,
    • reflect on and learn from each-others’ work,
    • summarize your evidence of student learning, and
    • complete a final poster and reflection which can then be used as artifacts in your teaching portfolio

Complete a Teaching-as-Research Project

While enrolled in the Internship Seminar, you will develop a literature-informed project proposal, including a teaching plan which you (usually) guest teach and assess. Your project is developed in collaboration with your faculty partner, with support from your internship cohort and the Delta staff.

The commitment includes observing your course/teaching context at least twice, meetings with your faculty partner, and summarizing evidence of student achievement of your outcomes. See FAQ’s below for more about the time commitment and process.

Final Products

Final products of the Delta Internship

You officially complete the program by submitting the following, which are great additions to your teaching portfolio:

    • Reflective Statement: This one-page statement reflects on how your internship experience influenced your understanding of the three Delta core ideas (teaching-as-research, learning communities, and learning-through-diversity).
    • Final Report or Poster: This provides an overview of what you did, how effective it was, and what you learned from the process. It loosely follows the format of a scientific poster (introduction, methods, etc.)

Infographic of Delta Internship Process, which is described in the accordion text boxes above.

Teaching-as-Research (TAR) Cycle

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, teach and assess and reflect on a teaching plan. During the Internship Seminar, we will work through the TAR cycle as shown below.

Infographic showing the 7 steps of the Teaching-as-Research (TAR) Cycle.
The Teaching-as-Research (TAR) Cycle: The cycle begins with identifying a challenge students are facing. After consulting existing literature on similar learning challenges, you then create objectives for student learning and define measures of success. With a plan to collect and analyze data in place, you develop and implement the new teaching and learning activity. Once you’ve collected evidence of student learning, you reflect, evaluate, and make iterations to this teaching practice — and start the cycle again.

Want to learn more about TAR? Hear alumni and mentors talking about their teaching-as-research experiences (10 min), or explore past Detla internship projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

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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 evaluate literature-informed teaching plans that aim to improve learning in a classroom, lab, outreach program or any other learning context.

I've already taken a course (or more). How will the switch to Δ's (deltas) affect my progress toward the internship prerequisites?

The recent prerequisite update is designed to provide more freedom so participants can shape their course choices that best align with their personal objectives and career goals.

If you have already completed the prerequisites for the Delta Internship, your status will remain unchanged: you are all set!

The table below explains how experiences previously counted as Courses, Half Courses, and Learning Communities will translate.

Previous Prerequisite # of Deltas
Course [C] 2 Δ’s
Half Course [1/2C] 1 Δ
Learning Community [LC] 1 Δ

What are Δ's (deltas) and how do I earn them?

We use Δ’s (deltas) as units assigned to courses. Participants can earn Δ’s by taking Delta courses, or those that have prior approval.* Most courses count as 1 or 2 Δ’s. All of our course listings indicate how many Δ’s one can earn by taking the course.

*Many offerings in WISCIENCE, Curriculum & Instruction, other campus units, or professional development work outside of UW–Madison can count toward the Delta Certificate. While there are opportunities to earn Δ’s outside of Delta’s programming, never assume that an opportunity outside of Delta will count: you must gain approval from one of Delta’s directors first.

Why are we using Δ's (deltas) and not just calling them credits?

We can’t call them “credits” due to both university rules and the potential for confusion over transcript-able credits that you may choose to earn by taking Delta courses.

Who can participate?

Graduate students and post-doctoral researchers from any discipline are welcome to start an internship upon completion of the prerequisites (at least 2 Δ’s and then the Teaching Plan 4-week Series).

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?

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 help improve the course climate and 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 is the timing of an internship and how much time do I need to commit?

Duration: The internship experience consists of the

  • Prerequisite (at least 2 Δ’s of teaching and learning coursework)
  • Then the Teaching Plan 4-Week Series (offered in April and possibly summer for fall interns, and November for spring interns)
  • A semester-long Internship Seminar cohort experience (spring or fall) where the project is planned, implemented, and analyzed. The seminar meets weekly for two hours.

It is possible to finish both the prerequisites and the internship in two semesters. Some interns choose to reiterate their project, or support their faculty partner in sustaining their project, in subsequent semesters.

Time commitment: When the 2019 cohorts were asked to estimate the weekly time for their internship, 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). So: Figure 5 hours a week with a maximum of 10, on average (some weeks might be more, some less).

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

The Teaching Plan 4-Week Series is held in spring and fall. Intern cohorts are held each semester.

Once you have completed the prerequisites (courses that count for at least 2 Δ’s and the Teaching Plan 4-Week Series), the next step is to find a project and complete the project agreement with your faculty partner. We are happy to help find a great project! See the FAQ “How do I find a project?”

To register, you must submit an online registration form; the link will be provided after the Teaching Plan 4-Week Series is complete. The Internship Seminar can be taken for 1 university credit through Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. As part of the online registration, you will need to upload a form signed by your research advisor to ensure their awareness of your participation in the program. Let us know if you want any resources to help support that conversation.

What kinds of internship projects have been done, and what does it look like?

Internships are choose your own adventure, which makes it a rich cohort experience across disciplines and teaching contexts!… and challenging to explain, and to shape the ‘right fit’ for you.

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 (inclusive collaborative learning projects, problem-based learning, case-based learning, any much more)
    • Transforming a “cookbook” laboratory module to inquiry-based instruction
    • Incorporating a technology to improve student learning
    • Designing student-centered formative assessments

You can find posters from past projects here. Please keep in mind that all projects are very different, and yours may look nothing like these.

Typical intern projects involve designing, teaching and assessing from one class period up to one week of instruction during weeks 6-10 of the semester, with flexibility for those who are interested in broader questions, different timing, or full-semester projects (contact internship@delta.wisc.edu to discuss your ideas).

The instructional role is also flexible. Often the intern guest teaches their plan, but some take behind-the-scenes roles while others are instructors of record for the semester.

How do I find an internship project?

See the top of the internship opportunities page for information and suggestions on how to find a project.

One is to consider a posted opportunity, and the second- the one interns do most often – is to connect with projects based in courses or faculty you want to work with. The key is to be sure that the instructor will be able to model a teaching approach that interests you. The third is to meet with Delta staff and chat about your particular goals and interests, and see how we might help you find a great fit.

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 a Delta Internship different from a TA position?

An intern’s role with a course is (usually*) 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’ with your faculty partner, guided by the project agreement prompts.

*with flexibility for those who are interested in broader questions; contact internship@delta.wisc.edu with questions

Can I use my upcoming TA experience as my Delta Internship?

Absolutely! You would shape a project around an aspect 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.

What do we do in the Internship Seminar?

The Internship Seminar is a learning community that supports the development of your teaching-as-research (TAR) project. It is not a course, but is a project-based learning community that is driven by participant goals and preferences, so each semester is different. There are weekly readings and supplementary materials to complete prior to each meeting to advance your emerging project, and in the seminar we work in a large group and small groups to integrate the content, share ideas, troubleshoot challenges, and offer feedback.

In broad strokes, we walk through the TAR cycle:

Infographic of TAR Cycle as it fits into the Internship Seminar. Further explanation in text below.

Weeks 1-5: Write your project proposal and observe your project context. Identify a challenge in student learning, consider your student characteristics and other situational factors. Use the literature and existing knowledge to draft an aligned teaching plan with measurable learning outcomes aligned with assessments that promote student learning and engaging activities. Pose a TAR question and hypothesis.

Weeks 6-10: Teach at some point in this period, usually just one course period but up to one week* of instruction. In the seminar, you’ll plan your data analysis, reflect on the project development process, and learn approaches to drawing evidence-based conclusions.
*with flexibility for those who are interested in broader questions; contact internship@delta.wisc.edu with questions

Weeks 11-15: Analyze the data to draw evidence-based conclusions. Revisit your TAR question. Reflect on your teaching and on the internship semester. Revise the teaching plan. Summarize your work in a poster, final report, or other preferred format.