Workshops and Seminars

Graduate Student Workshops:

This Quarter's Schedule

Click here to see this quarter's offerings, and sign up for our listserv to receive email notifications when there are updates and additions to our program schedule.

Workshop on Teaching in the College

For more information and to register for the 2014 Workshop on Teaching in the College, Click here.

This two-day program is open to graduate students across all of the divisions who are preparing to teach either in the College or at another University, in the near future or as preparation for a career in academe. This workshop features individual sessions on an array of topics including:

  • Establishing Authority, Equity, and Expectations in the Classroom
  • Undergraduate Perspectives on What Makes a Good Teacher
  • "Hot Moments" in the Classroom
  • Ensuring Equity in Grading
  • Academic Integrity
  • Mid-Course Adjustments
  • Strategies for Encouraging Classroom Discussion
  • Teaching Your Own Course
  • Effective Lecturing
  • Teaching Writing and/or Problem Solving
  • Dealing with Classroom Conflict
  • The Roles and Duties of the Course Assistant

Full attendance at the workshop is required in order to be eligible for the Certificate in University Teaching.

Preparing Future Faculty Series of Workshops and Seminars

Graduate students are encouraged to sign up for upcoming workshops and seminars here.

Seminar on Course Design

The Seminar on Course Design examines the foundational concepts in teaching and learning and how to apply these ideas in a course plan that will support student learning and provide evidence of student learning. During the seminar, participants will create a plan for learning in the course, explaining to the other participants how this learning is linked to the final graded project, regardless of whether the course is their own or one institutionally prescribed. They will also begin to analyze their teaching goals and consider how to align those goals with student, program and/or institutional needs.

Since this seminar also interrogates ways of determining whether and how a course might be improved, it serves as a critical piece of learning for advanced graduate students who are preparing teaching documents for prospective employers. As such, this workshop is required before graduate students may enroll in either the Workshop on Teaching Portfolios and the Workshop on Philosophy of Teaching Statements. After completing the seminar, we highly suggest you take the Course Design supplementary workshop on developing assignments before attending the Workshop on Course Design. Workshop on Course Design

In the subsequent workshop on course design, graduate students critically examine the links between the course syllabus and classroom learning by drafting their own syllabi and providing peer review. To participate in this workshop, you must have participated in the Seminar on Course Design and submit a draft syllabus.

Seminar on Teaching Portfolios

Not solely a requirement for the job market, teaching portfolios help graduate students think, talk and write about teaching with precision and sophistication. Through developing your teaching portfolios, you sharpen your ability to reflect on and analyze your teaching performance and to present yourself as knowledgeable, confident and thoughtful instructors. In this seminar, you identify the key components of a portfolio, evaluate sample portfolios, and begin constructing your own portfolio through a series of exercises. Students must take the seminar on course design before taking the seminar on teaching portfolios.

Workshop on Teaching Portfolios

The Workshop on Course Design continues to critically examine ways the course syllabus can improve both classroom teaching and learning. The Workshop on Teaching Portfolios is ONLY open to students who have completed the Seminar on Course Design AND the Seminar on Teaching Portfolios within the previous calendar year. Workshop discussion and activity revolve around portfolios submitted by participants. Each participant will present a draft of two documents from his/her Teaching Portfolio for feedback from the group.

Workshop on Philosophy of Teaching Statements

A Philosophy of Teaching Statement has become a common requirement in academic life, both for graduate students applying to faculty positions and faculty applying for tenure and promotion. But what is a philosophy of teaching and what does it look like? In this workshop, you begin the process of writing a statement that reflects your unique approach to classroom learning, by discussing the parts of a philosophy, examining sample statements and beginning exercises that help you reflect on how you approach your role as instructor.

Creating Assignments to Structure Your Course

While this session is not a requirement of the Certificate Program, we highly recommend students take this between the Seminar and Workshop on Course Design or as additional preparation after completing both the seminar and workshop. In the Seminar on Course Design, we learned how to plan our own courses using the principle of 'backwards design' -- generating learning goals and final assignments by answering the question, 'What knowledge, concepts, skills or values do I want students to gain from taking my course?' In this follow-up workshop, we continue the process by planning out the major assignments that will both structure and motivate students' learning throughout the term. We will generate and discuss an assignment-centered 'course skeleton' by answering the question, 'What will students need to do in order to meet the learning goals for my course?' In addition to having attended the seminar on course design, attendees must bring in a set of three to five learning goals and a final assignment description to use in generating their assignment-centered course skeletons. Participants are welcome to bring a lunch with them.

Collaborative Learning

We often hear that collaborative exercises (both inside and outside the classroom) are "a good thing" but, more often than not, they are done for their own sake, under the expectation that if students are made to work in groups, magic will happen and they will spontaneously learn more. However, collaborative exercises are rarely effective if they are not aligned with a course's learning goals. In this workshop, we will discuss examples of collaborative exercises that were designed to meet specific learning goals in a UChicago course. Participants will also discuss how these types of exercises could be applied in their own fields.

Technology and Collaborative Learning

Technology such as discussion boards, blogs, and wikis, when used appropriately, can foster and bridge collaborative learning between class meetings. In this workshop, we will explore how teaching technologies can be used to help students achieve learning goals. We will consider the characteristics of these three types of collaborative technologies (all available in Chalk), what type of assignments they are useful for and how to use them effectively. We will examine a few examples of effective use of these technology and we will do a small group hands-on exercise to develop an assignment using one of these technologies.

Workshop on Instructional Objectives

Instructional objectives are short statements that describe what students are expected to learn in a class. When an instructor carefully constructs objectives that make broad learning goals concrete, student and instructor anxiety is alleviated and framework for evaluation exists. In this workshop, we explore the benefits of instructional objectives and a method for constructing them. We will consider some pitfalls that are commonly encountered when writing objectives and discuss ways to avoid them. You will craft and workshop one or more objectives that you can use in your own courses.

Further, students become more motivated to learn when they realize how assignments, assessment, lectures and learning objectives are aligned. In this workshop graduate students explore how to create transparently aligned instruction to increase their students’ motivation to learn. In this session, you will begin developing units and assignments that are likely to increase students’ efforts in your class.

Using the Blackboard for Effective Teaching and Learning

The blackboard –the old-school, physical blackboard, not the online course site Chalk –is an invaluable tool for helping students learn; but it's not always used to its full potential, especially in classes focused primarily on discussion. In this workshop you learn how to get more out of the blackboard in your own courses. We survey the many ways the blackboard can be used effectively to teach students, promote their learning, articulate and develop their ideas and get them to meet your course's learning goals.

Using Acting Techniques in the Classroom

During this workshop, you will build on the connections between pedagogy and performance practices in a creative and positive way to create an environment of active engagement in the classroom. Through vocal, physical, and improvisational exercises you will gain confidence to both inspire students and elicit energetic participation.

Please wear loose, comfortable clothing and bring a sense of humor.

What Kind of Academic Do You Want to Be?

What combination of teaching, research, and institutional service do you think is the best formula for you in your future academic career? You probably know that community colleges, liberal arts colleges, and research universities envision very distinct roles for their faculty and that these roles require distinct skills. However, you may not know how much diversity exists among our many research universities, and accordingly, how much choice there remains for you, in deciding which fits your professional aims and life goals most closely.

This workshop is designed to help graduate students sort through the huge range of institutional choices available to them in the American system of higher education and begin to make choices among them relative to their own professional and personal aspirations. Secondly, it will help participants assess the skills and knowledge required by each type of institution, and identify University resources for acquiring them. You should walk away from this workshop with a clear plan and timeline for preparing in a way that suits your schedule.

Be Prepared for the Job Market: Your Teaching Materials.

There are many different kinds of documents required by hiring committees during the process of applying for a job. Some of them are teaching documents related to a course you have taught or hope to teach in the future. Others are reflective essays presenting your ideas on teaching to prospective colleagues.

These documents should be polished and completed before the application process begins in the early fall. The CTL's Advanced Workshops on Teaching allows job candidates learn about and compose a set of documents required by search committees. This process also, simultaneously, introduces beginning instructors to the discourse of teaching in higher education, which in turn, prepares them for interviewing with prospective colleagues. Seminars examine the way in which each type of document interrogates the process of teaching and learning. Workshop gathers job candidates from across departments for feedback on one another's drafts. Each of these programs is offered once (and sometimes twice) each quarter, including the summer quarter. Drafts of syllabi, teaching statements, and other documents should be submitted to the appropriate Workshop sometime during the year prior to your beginning the job search.

For individual graduate students who have completed either the Workshop on Course Design or on Teaching Portfolios, individual counseling appointments are available on that topic. While the CTL Is always open to the community of teachers seeking information on our programs and resources on teaching, Walk-in appointments or requests for on-the-spot advice on the will not be honored.

While the CTL welcomes all graduate students designing a plan for their professional development, or seeking information on our resources, walk-in appointments for reviewing materials without prior completion of a workshop on those materials cannot be granted.

Faculty Instructors:

Faculty Roundtables on Technology

This new program for faculty invites both inexperienced and experienced users of classroom technologies to join in discussions about innovative pedagogical practices. These luncheon events are held twice per quarter during the Fall, Winter, and Spring. If you are interested in being notified when one of these events is scheduled, please send an email to

Past Topics include:

  • The Flipped Classroom: Examining the why and how of setting up a flipped classroom model in your course, as well as strategies for integrating the in- and out-of-class components in a productive and engaging way. Conversation launched by Martin Feder (Biological Sciences Division and Pritzker School of Medicine)

  • Using “Bring Your Own Device” Classroom Response Systems to Actively Engage Students in Large Lectures. Conversation launched by Linda Collins (Statistics).

  • The Powers and Perils of Powerpoint. Conversation launched by Susan Goldin-Meadow (Psychology)

  • Making Learning Visible with “Clickers.” Conversation launched by Saul Levmore (Law School)

  • Teaching with Web 2.0: Using interactive web-based technologies such as wikis, blogs, discussion boards, and twitter in the classroom. Conversation launched by Stuart Kurtz (Computer Science).

  • What Happens When You Open Your Classroom to the World?: Tales From Teaching Open Climate 101. Conversation launched by David Archer (Geophysical Sciences)

  • Using Media to Motivate Student Learning: Conversation launched by Veronica Vegna (RLL) and Karma Ngodup (SALC)

  • Interactive Rubrics in Chalk: Creating Transparency of Expectations and Allowing for Detailed Feedback in an Efficient Way. Conversation launched by Andrew Junker (Society of Fellows, College)