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Cornell University

CIRTL at Cornell

Teaching as Research Support

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

1. Participate in Discipline-Based Educational Research seminars and discussion groups

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

New Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) faculty in Biology and Physics are offering graduate-level courses on a periodic basis, and there is also a DBER reading group meeting semi-monthly. Until Spring 2018, the graduate course ALS 6016: Teaching as Research in Higher Education was also offered, although the course is currently on hiatus.

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.
  • Readings and listserv for DBER group

New Spring 2019 course:

  • BIOEE 7600: Special Topics in Evolution and Ecology – Evidence-Based Teaching (Seminar 102, Course #4187)
  • Frequency: Meets Wednesdays from 11:00-12:30 in Whittaker Room, Corson Hall
  • 2 credit hours
  • Instructor: Michelle K. Smith, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (mks274)

2. Participate in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 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 instructor is required.

As well as participating in approximately four cohort meetings, participants summarize and present their findings for their findings for a symposium 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) or Colleen McLinn (cmm252), CIRTL at Cornell
  • Not credit-bearing
  • Frequency: Meets 4-6 times for 2 hours during the year. Offered annually.
  • Learn more about SoTL program


Online Training

3. 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 to inquire)
  • Information on Fall 2018 TAR course


4. 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.