Penn State University

Take Action for Student Learning (TASL)

In Summer 2021, TASL begins on June 1 and ends on June 30.

Take Action for Student Learning (TASL) is a free, non-credit, entirely online course that is open to full-time Penn State faculty of any rank/status who are currently teaching or who have done so recently. TASL replaces the Summer Course in College Teaching for Faculty and is offered only during the summer.

This four-week, online course provides an opportunity for faculty from all disciplines to apply the Decoding the Disciplines framework to engage, motivate, and foster deep learning in their students. Participants will identify a specific teaching and learning challenge with which students typically struggle. Participants will identify and unpack their own discipline-based knowledge in order to help their students overcome a learning challenge. They will then (re)design a learning activity to address the challenge.

Course Structure and Assignments

The course consists of three types of work:

  1. Four, one-hour synchronous meetings via Zoom on Tuesday, June 1, 8, 15, and 22 from 1-2 p.m. in which SITE facilitators introduce the principles and methods of the Decoding the Disciplines approach.
  2. Four, two-hour synchronous, small-group sessions (3-4 people) on Thursday, June 3, 10, 17, 24 from 1-3 p.m. in which participants discuss and decode their specific teaching and learning challenge with the assistance of a trained SITE facilitator.
  3. Creating a final draft of a learning activity.

Faculty are eligible to earn a completion certificate by

  1. participating in all online activities and weekly discussion forums;
  2. attending at least two of three synchronous Zoom sessions; and
  3. successfully completing a final draft of a learning activity

While this course does not serve as a formal “certification” process, it does provide you with documentation of your participation in it. This certificate may be included in your teaching portfolio as evidence of your professional development as an instructor.

Course Objectives

  1. Identify a specific bottleneck to student learning in your course and develop steps to help students overcome it.
  2. Integrate teaching and assessment strategies that enhance student learning.
  3. Reflect on their beliefs and practices about teaching and learning.
  4. Develop an intervention to address an identified problem area for student learning.


TASL is open to Penn State faculty or staff of any rank/status who are currently teaching or who have done so recently. Those with no previous teaching experience should take the Instructional Foundations Series.

Reading Materials

There is no required textbook. Brief, weekly readings will be provided in Canvas instead.


Here's what past TASLers say about the course.

This experience enabled me to gain resources, receive feedback, and force me to re-think what I was doing and to make intentional, concentrated efforts to improve my instruction."
I enjoyed participating in the course and learned much from not only the material presented in the course, but also from the design of the course itself.
Loved the structure of it all to make me productive over the summer!

To Apply

Apply before 5:00 p.m. on May 7.

Successful applicants will be notified by 5:00 p.m. on May 14.


TASL is facilitated by Chas Brua, Beate Brunow, Larkin Hood and Deena Levy.

Please contact one of the course facilitators with your questions about the course.


Penn State University