About Course 1: An Introduction to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching

Please enjoy this introductory video featuring Dr. Trina McMahon from the University of Wisconsin Madison and Dr. Derek Bruff from Vanderbilt University.  Here they introduce course concepts as well as what you can expect during the course. The course begins early October 1st 2018. Enroll Now!


The course draws on the expertise of experienced STEM faculty, educational researchers, and staff from university teaching centers, many of them affiliated with the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL), a network of research universities collaborating in the preparation of STEM graduate students and post-docs as future faculty members.

Development of the course was led by Rique Campa (Michigan State University), Derek Bruff (Vanderbilt University), Bennett Goldberg (Boston University), and Kitch Barnicle and Robert Mathieu (University of Wisconsin-Madison), with support from the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1347605 and the Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning.

Topics include key learning principles such as the role of mental models in learning and the importance of practice and feedback; fundamental elements of course design, including the development of learning objectives and assessments of learning aligned with those objectives; and teaching strategies for fostering active learning and inclusive classroom environments. For more details, see the course syllabus.

The course is highly interactive, with many opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, both online (through discussion forums and social media) and face-to-face. Indeed, the course instructors encourage participants to create learning communities at their home institutions, meeting in person during the course to discuss what they are learning about STEM teaching. The instructors provide detailed facilitator guides, with suggested discussion questions and activities for use during weekly meetings, and communities, in turn, are asked to share ideas and perspectives from their local groups with the global learning community created by the course.

Over 4,000 grad students, post-docs, and faculty participated in the first offering of the course during the fall of 2014, with more than 500 going on to complete the course and earn statements of accomplishments. At least 42 colleges and universities hosted local learning communities. Feedback from participants and learning community facilitators was very positive, with many praising the high quality of the course learning materials. For more on the first offering of the course, see these data and results.


Here is what some of the students from the fall 2014 offering of our course had to say:

“Hi, Just a quick note to say thanks very much for a thoroughly fascinating and thought-provoking course. I am a Senior Research Fellow over here in the UK, so have a fair bit of teaching experience but am yet to gain a tenured lecturing position. So I took the course to expand my knowledge of teaching practices and methods in general – and it certainly did…”

“Thank you to all who put together this course. It was helpful information and review even for someone at the associates level. It was well put together, easy to navigate, clearly taught, and coming from a small liberal arts college where dollars for faculty development are scarce, offering this for free made it doubly attractive, though given the quality of what you presented, I would have gladly paid for it as well…”

“Many thanks for this terrific course. I have enjoyed it immensely – it is the first time that I have really engaged with a social science! What I learned is affecting more of my life than just my teaching. Particularly parts of the course about diversity. However the biggest impact has been on my teaching and as a result of this course I have received much better feedback from the students I teach…”

“This was a fantastic course! I’ve taken other Coursera courses, and this is among the best. I’ve been teaching STEM at the college level for many years, and I learned/updated many methods and ideas to teach more effectively. I also learned how to structure an online course using my LMS–the faculty did a great job of modeling how to use/organize materials and teach online. Thank you so much for arching the course materials! I’ll encourage my colleagues to enroll in this course when it’s offered again…”

“Excellent course – I enjoyed this course a great deal. I have been trying to find ways to make my classroom more student-driven and I got some great ideas from the course. Thanks for making my time invested in the course worthwhile.”

“This course was awesome. I have taken part in several online and face-to-face professional development courses but this one far exceeded my expectations. I hope to pass on what I have learned through our campus center for teaching and learning…”


Will I get a Verified Certificate after completing this course?
Not at this time. We are working on making this option available. Please check back soon.

Are there any required readings for this course?
There’s no textbook, but during a few of the weeks participants will be directed to journal articles or websites that are freely available online. Most of the content for the course will be found in the course videos.

Do I need to be teaching a class in order to benefit from this course?
No, this course is designed primarily for future STEM faculty, that is, graduate students and post-docs planning faculty careers. If you happen to be in a teaching position of some kind (even as a teaching assistant) while the course runs, you may find it useful to “pilot” some of the teaching strategies discussed in the course, but that’s not essential to participation in the course.

Is this course open to those at institutions not affiliated with the CIRTL Network?
Yes! Although the course has been developed by faculty, staff, and students at CIRTL Network institutions, it is intended for anyone interested in becoming a more effective undergraduate STEM teacher, regardless of institutional affiliation.

Do I need to be part of a local learning community to participate in the course?
No. Meeting with a local learning group or study group is a great way to get more out of the course experience, but it is not required.

Do I need to be a graduate student or post-doc (in a STEM field) to enroll?

No. Anyone is welcome to enroll, but the course is designed for graduate students and post-docs with aspirations of teaching STEM courses in higher education.

Where can I find this course on Twitter?
You don’t need to use Twitter to participate in the course, but if you are on Twitter, you’re welcome to follow the course account, @CIRTLMOOC. Also, if you tweet about the course, please use the hashtag #STEMTeaching so that we can find your tweets more easily.


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