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STEM Teaching Courses

Between 2013 and 2018, the Center for Teaching helped design and implement two open, online courses on evidence-based teaching practices for future STEM faculty. The goal of the project was to equip the next generation of STEM faculty to be effective teachers, thus improving the learning experience for the thousands of students they will teach.

During those years, more than 20,000 graduate students, postdocs, and faculty participated in the courses, with over 2,000 of them completing one or more of the courses. Many of those enrolled in the courses also participated in local learning communities hosted at more than 130 colleges and universities around the world, including Vanderbilt University.

Development of the courses 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), all affiliated with the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning, also known as the CIRTL Network. The project received support from the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1347605, which supported CFT graduate students and postdocs who were instrumental to the design and implementation of the courses, including Claude (Trey) Mack, Tamara Carley, Lauren Campbell, and Noah Green.

The two courses continue to be offered annually by the CIRTL Network on the edX platform. See below for course descriptions and introductory videos. For more information on the courses or to view learning materials from the courses, visit

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

“An Introduction to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching” is an open, online course designed to provide future STEM faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows with an introduction to effective teaching strategies and the research that supports them. Topics include principles of learning such as mental models and knowledge organizations, course design elements such as learning objectives and assessment frameworks, and instructional strategies to support active learning and inclusive teaching.

From @WildCora on Twitter: “The intro course changed my teaching life. If you plan to teach, please try this course. Your students will thank you. #STEMed #effectiveteaching #postdoclife

Excellent and enlightening lectures, materials, and concepts! The PGAs allowed me to try applying and practicing the content. Would strongly recommend.” -Summer 2018 Participant

Course 2: Advancing Learning Through Evidence-Based STEM Teaching

“Advancing Learning through Evidence-Based STEM Teaching” is a free online course that provides preparation for current and future STEM faculty members in effective teaching strategies and the evidence that supports these strategies. Participants will learn how to (a) engage students in active learning in classrooms using strategies such as peer instruction and problem-based learning, (b) develop methods to help their students think more like experts in their fields using inquiry-based labs and similar activities, (c) turn their classrooms into learning communities through cooperative learning and using the diverse perspectives of their students, and (d) use approaches like flipped classrooms that make it possible to build active and collaborative learning into their classes.

This course builds on the CIRTL Network course, “An Introduction to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching.” That course is recommended, but not required, as a prerequisite for participating in this course.

From @HerrSheehan on Twitter: “These #STEMteaching courses are fantastic. Now I have to make time during a busy semester to complete this class!