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. (As defined by the CIRTL Network).

Workshops and experience with 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 several options for learning more about and engaging in Teaching as Research projects.

1. To learn more, start with the Teaching as Research section of the CIRTL Network website, or explore these videos:

2. See examples of what other Cornell graduate students and postdocs have done in terms of TAR projects at these links:

3. Explore the professional development opportunities below.

Additionally, an increasing number of Cornell faculty and postdocs are conducting cutting-edge education research within STEM disciplines (biology, physics, chemistry, etc.), in some cases associated with the university-wide Active Learning Initiative at Cornell supported by the Center for Teaching Innovation.

How to Get Involved

Through participation in the CIRTL Network and a  there are an increasing number of options available for graduate students and postdocs to pursue formal training in planning and implementing Teaching as Research projects, described in more detail below.

CIRTL Network Training

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: Colleen McLinn, Cornell University, and Brian Smentkowski, University of Idaho
  • Format and Frequency: This flipped course meets synchronously online over 6 weeks with assignments in advance of attending class. Offered at least annually.
  • Information on Summer 2023 course

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, including 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.

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.

Cornell University Training

Research groups, seminars and discussions

The Teaching and Learning Reading Group meets semi-monthly in association with the Active Learning Initiative supported by the Center for Teaching Innovation (CTI). Contact: Carolyn Aslan, Center for Teaching Innovation (crc1), and Natasha Holmes, Assistant Professor of Physics (ngholmes). See past readings and listserv info

Additionally, Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) faculty in Arts and Sciences have formed a new Cornell Discipline-based Education Research (CDER) group that are offering other journal clubs and graduate-level courses about Education Research on a periodic basis.

Attend the Connecting Research and Teaching Conference

This conference (co-hosted by the Graduate School and Center for Teaching Innovation from 2012-2020) 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. 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: Colleen McLinn (cmm252@cornell.edu), Graduate School Future Faculty and Academic Careers
  • 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

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:

With the recent addition of tenure-stream faculty specializing in Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) as part of Active Learning Initiatives at Cornell, some graduate students are now pursuing dissertations advised by these faculty.

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.