Teaching as Research Support

Dawn Berry in front of a poster

Teaching as Research is the deliberate, systematic, and reflective use of research methods by instructors to develop and implement teaching practices that advance the learning experiences and outcomes of both students and teachers.

Teaching as Research programming can be a great capstone experience for graduate students and postdocs interested in learning more about teaching and learning, enhancing their CVs, and moving closer to an academic career. Cornell and the CIRTL Network offer many options for learning more about and engaging in Teaching as Research projects.

Example Cornell University projects:


Opportunities to get involved:

Local Training

Through participation in the CIRTL Network and a university-wide Active Learning Initiative at Cornell, there are an increasing number of options available for graduate students and postdocs to pursue formal training in implementing Teaching as Research projects, described in more detail below. Faculty and staff are encouraged to contact the Center for Teaching Innovation for individualized consultation.

Participate in seminars and discussion groups

A great way to get started is to attend the Teaching and Learning Reading Group meeting semi-monthly. Additionally, Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) faculty in Biology and Physics are offering other journal clubs and graduate-level courses on a periodic basis. (Until Spring 2018, the graduate course ALS 6016: Teaching as Research in Higher Education was also offered locally, although the course is currently on hiatus.)

Teaching and Learning Reading Group details:

  • Contacts: Carolyn Aslan, Center for Teaching Innovation (crc1), and Natasha Holmes, Assistant Professor of Physics (ngholmes)
  • Frequency: Meets every two weeks. Ongoing.
  • See readings and listserv

Attend the Connecting Research and Teaching Conference

This annual one-day conference in late spring highlights and supports the research of graduate students and postdocs, faculty and staff into effective teaching. Hear oral and poster presentations, participate in roundtables, and network with others interested in collecting evidence to inform their teaching practice and build their skills for careers in academia. Next Date: May 8, 2020.

Learn more about the Connecting Research and Teaching Conference

Participate in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Program

This workshop program is an individualized and group-mentored opportunity for graduate students and postdocs to design a first Teaching as Research project in their disciplines. Participants usually begin to plan project methods in the fall, investigate human subjects requirements, and carry out and present the project in spring semester, although some have been able to conduct a pilot-scale study within a single semester. There are no pre-requisites to participation, but a brief application and meeting with the program instructor is required.

As well as participating in approximately four cohort meetings, participants summarize and present their findings for their findings for a Teaching as Research conference as a poster (oral presentations may also be possible). Participants also have the option to write up their study question, methods and findings as a manuscript for a Working Paper Series. Participants selected for the program are eligible to receive up to $500 in support to defray project expenses and subsidize additional training or conference travel.

SoTL Program details:

  • Contacts: Kimberly Williams (kw299@cornell.edu) or Colleen McLinn (cmm252@cornell.edu), CIRTL at Cornell
  • Not credit-bearing
  • Frequency: Meets 4-6 times for 2 hours during the year. Offered annually, typically with a fall-semester start.

Learn more about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning program

Online Training

Participate in online workshops and seminars from the CIRTL Network

The CIRTL Network has Teaching as Research (TAR) programming to support those interested in or currently carrying out work in this area. In 2018-2019, there will be all-Network online presentations, panel discussions with alumni who have done TAR projects, and other workshops on how to use TAR experience as an asset in the job search. Cornell participants who have done Teaching as Research projects may be able to sign up to present their work at the all-Network symposia.

This semester’s All-Network TAR presentations are on Wednesday, April 17 from 5:00-6:30 p.m. ET.

Video resources about Teaching as Research created for a prior massive open online course on evidence-based STEM Teaching are also available for self-study.

Take an online CIRTL course: Planning Your Teaching as Research Project

Participants will work on refining their research question, conducting a literature review, defining student outcomes for their project, and identifying appropriate learning activities and assessments that align with those outcomes. Throughout the course, participants will draft components of their project plan and provide feedback on each other’s work; they will have a completed TAR project plan by the end of the course. Sessions will be highly interactive and require active engagement and participation. A letter of completion will be provided.

Course details:

  • Instructors: Denise Pope, CIRTL Central; Brian Rybarczyk, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Tracy Irish, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Frequency: Meets synchronously online over 10 weeks with additional assignments. Offered at least annually.
  • 1 credit optional (via a Cornell graduate individual study course number, contact cirtl@cornell.edu to inquire)
  • Information on Fall 2018 course

Dissertation Research

With special committee approval and faculty partnership, some graduate students have been able to expand upon efforts from an early teaching as research project into a dissertation or chapters of a dissertation in their field of study.

Recent examples:

  • Jessica Rose Abel (Ph.D., 2018), English Language and Literature, Teaching Joyce’s Ulysses
  • Allison Truhlar (Ph.D., 2017), Biological and Environmental Engineering, Survival of Escherichia coli in Agricultural Soils and Student Engagement in Online Discussions

With the recent addition of tenure-stream faculty specializing in Discipline-Based Education Research as part of Active Learning Initiatives at Cornell, Katherine Quinn recently defended the first Physics Education Research dissertation at Cornell in spring 2019.

Pursuing a graduate minor in education at Cornell is also an option that may be a good fit in some cases.

Reading List

Here are some recent readings we recommend for practitioners interested in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) and Teaching as Research.