CIRTL@UR: Faculty Involvement

CIRTL, an NSF-funded consortium of universities across the country, has as its mission the enhancement of undergraduate education through the development of a national faculty committed to advancing effective teaching practices as part of successful and varied professional careers, particularly in the STEM disciplines. It aims to achieve this by:

  • Establishing interdisciplinary learning communities at every Network university, each founded on the CIRTL core ideas and each effectively preparing graduates-through-faculty to use and improve best practices in STEM teaching and learning with attention to diverse student audiences;
  • Establishing a cross-network learning community by which graduates-through-faculty across the Network are better prepared for teaching as a consequence of the diversity of the universities;
  • Fostering transitions from the Network learning communities into faculty positions that sustain the concepts, practices, and attitudes developed while graduate students or postdocs;
  • Enhancing graduate education in teaching and learning at universities beyond the CIRTL Network.

Our local learning community, CIRTL@UR, strives to engage our graduate students and postdocs in teaching and learning activities, both on-line through the CIRTL Network and locally, through on-campus events and through local learning communities.  We welcome faculty participation in our CIRTL@UR initiatives!  In particular, there are two ways for faculty to get involved.

  1. Teach an on-line workshop on a topic of interest.  CIRTL hosts a number of one-hour Coffee Hours and CIRTLCast presentations throughout the year.  Typically these are grouped according to themes.  For example, this year, the themes were:
    1. Coffee Hour Discussion Series: Career Development for Post-docs 
    2. Coffee Hour Discussion Series: Leveraging Diversity in STEM Teaching
    3. Coffee Hour Discussion Series: Teaching & Learning in the American System: A Forum for International Graduate Students and Postdocs
    4. CIRTLCast Presentation Series: Teaching in the Large Undergraduate STEM Classroom

Faculty who are interested in presenting one or more 1-hour on-line workshops can propose the topic to the CIRTL@UR Leadership Team.  These workshops will reach graduate students and postdocs at UR and across the country at the CIRTL Network Institutions, greatly increasing the impact of the faculty member’s presentation.

       2.   Propose a project for our CIRTL@UR Teaching-as-Research Fellows Program for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields. CIRTL defines TAR as follows:

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

TAR Fellows are selected to conduct projects exploring aspects of undergraduate education in the STEM disciplines. Each graduate student or postdoc Fellow receives a $1K stipend and works with a faculty mentor or a mentor from the University of Rochester Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), and each project focuses on an undergraduate course.  To get a sense of the scope of TAR projects, see the examples listed here (link to:  These projects do not involve TA-type responsibilities.  Instead, a TAR project is intended to implement, evaluate, assess, or otherwise explore a teaching idea or method, and is much more limited in scope than a teaching assistantship.

The goals of the CIRTL@UR TAR Fellows program are as follows:

a.)    To provide faculty with resources for designing and assessing curricular innovations.

b.)    To provide graduate students and post-doctoral researchers with training and development in the design and assessment of teaching and learning activities.

c.)    To benefit the learning of undergraduate students through the development and assessment of curricular innovations.

Faculty interested in getting involved in the CIRTL@UR TAR Fellows program can propose a project that emphasizes the instructional innovations that will be developed and the assessment of effectiveness.  CIRTL@UR TAR Fellows will be paid $1K to undertake the proposed project, under the mentorship of the faculty member.  Faculty proposing CIRTL@UR TAR Fellows projects in their NSF grants should budget the $1K stipend for supporting the fellow (or more than $1K if more than one fellow is desired to work on the project).

For more information, contact Wendi Heinzelman or Jenny Hadingham.

We will be advertising for the next cohort of TAR fellows towards the end of 2014 - watch this space!