Penn State University


Our consultants offer workshops on a variety of teaching and learning topics that are customized to needs of the requesting unit. Below are examples of commonly requested workshops. If you don't see your topic here, please do not hesitate to send us a request.

Workshop Categories and Topics

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Planning for Learning

Creating a Learner-centered Syllabus

A syllabus is the first step in creating a successful student learning experience. In this workshop, we discuss the elements of a learner-centered syllabus that will connect students to your course and improve their sense of belonging.

Universal Design for Learning

Discover and practice core Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles that address variability among your students including challenges posed by time, distance, or disability. Includes UDL-inspired course activities created by Penn State faculty to spark ideas for use in your own face-to-face, online, or hybrid courses.

Decode Disciplinary Thinking: How Students Think and Learn in Your Field

When you teach, you do more than cover content. You help students develop thinking processes specific to your discipline. You and your colleagues will use an established framework, Decoding the Disciplines, to critically analyze your assumptions and teaching practices.

Transparency in Assignment Design

Do your students not read the instructions or seem to miss the point of the assignment? Using a simple, research-based, three-part framework, you can improve the alignment between your intentions and what you ask students to do. Come with an assignment and ready to work!

Accessibility and Belonging

Students who believe they belong in college are more apt to succeed than those who don’t. This workshop focuses on the intersections of accessibility and belonging. Participants will discover the foundational role of accessibility in fostering a sense of belonging, and they'll learn the essentials about creating accessible course documents.

Planning for Accessibility

Participants will be introduced to accessibility and its importance in their course design process, and they’ll learn how to make course documentsand presentations accessible for students with a variety of disabilities and learning preferences.

Student Engagement

Leveraging Student Motivation for Learning

Many factors can impact students’ motivation for learning. The good news is that instructors have a major influence on those factors, including students' sense of the value of the course material, their mindset about growth, and their sense of belonging. In this interactive workshop, we'll explore research-based approaches for leveraging students' motivation to promote learning.


Addressing Student Disruptions

All instructors encounter challenging student behaviors that have the potential to disrupt a class. We discuss scenarios and identify strategies for addressing them before, during, and after they occur. We also discuss how best to communicate behavioral expectations to students.

Creating Inclusive Courses

This workshop introduces strategies for creating courses in which all students are able to learn. We discuss why these practices are inclusive and why inclusion is critical for student success. We also consider research findings that indicate which contexts and actions create exclusive environments for students.

TA 101

Participants review case scenarios commonly encountered by teaching assistants and discuss effective ways to handle each scenario. Scenarios might include, late students, students who have not prepared for class, addressing student complaints, answering unexpected questions, making errors in front of students, working with the instructor, and holding office hours. We regularly integrate discipline-specific scenarios.

Design Inclusive Learning Experiences Using the “Who’s in Class?” Survey

Students’ social identities—both visible and invisible—impact their learning. This workshop will introduce the "Who's in class?" survey (Addy et al., 2021), a tool that you can use to uncover aspects of your students' social identities that can impact their learning. In this workshop, you will examine a template of the survey and consider how you might adapt it for your own courses. You will have an opportunity to discuss the process of using student survey responses to make adjustments to your course.

Designing Assignments for Learning in an Age of Artificial Intelligence

Digital resources and tools have been part of the learning landscape in higher education for years (e.g., Google Translator, Grammarly, Chegg, Course Hero). Artificial Intelligence (AI) authoring tools have become a significant part of this rapidly changing landscape. In this workshop, we will look at examples of responses to assignments generated by AI tools. We will consider the implications of these outputs for designing assignments that help students learn, and help instructors accurately assess their learning.

Student Centered Discussion©

In this workshop, participants will discuss steps instructors can take to design a good discussion:create a climate conducive to student centered discussion, promote the skills required for effective discussion (i.e., communication, interpersonal competence, critical thinking), and provide students with a workable process for structuring discussion and tools that maximize the efficacy of discussions. Participants will practice how to facilitate student centered discussion and will be offered feedback and suggestions.

Assessing & Reflecting on Learning

Writing and Analyzing Multiple Choice Tests

Multiple choice tests are easy to score, but difficult to write well, particularly if you want to assess critical thinking. Learn about strategies for writing effective multiple-choice questions and use statistical information to improve your question-writing.

Assessing Teaching: Student Feedback Survey

The Student Feedback Survey (SFS) is Penn State's instrument for gathering feedback from students at the end of a course. Workshop participants will discuss how they might talk to their students about the purpose and importance of student feedback, how they might increase response rates, and review how to annotate student course feedback to communicate insights gained from student feedback to those who assess their teaching.

Assessment of Teaching Effectiveness

Assessing (and reflecting on) teaching requires multiple sources of evidence. In this workshop, we will review the student feedback survey, mid-semester student feedback,peer review, self-reflection, and teaching portfolios as sources of evidence and discuss how faculty might showcase strengths and address areas of improvement.

Learning from Each Other: An Introduction to Teaching Squares

In this short workshop, you will learn more about teaching squares, a low-commitment practice of non-evaluative peer observation of teaching. Previous participants have indicated that their squares transformed how they talk and think about their teaching. Gather your colleagues and get the information you need to start a square within your campus, college, department, or other group.

Grading Differently: Rethinking How and Why We Do Classroom Assessment

Have you ever wondered why we grade the way we do in higher education? In this interactive workshop (based on data collected across Penn State), you will explore emerging alternatives to conventional grading schema.? Discover why practices such as specification (spec) grading, mastery grading, and contract grading have become increasingly popular practices in many higher education domains.

Teaching and Learning Scholarship (TLS) Workshops

Getting Started with Teaching and Learning Scholarship

Have you ever considered publishing on your teaching and learning practice? In this interactive workshop, you will learn more about what Teaching and Learning Scholarship (also called SoTL or TAR) is, how you can integrate it into your scholarly work, and (at least some of) the reasons why you might want to.? During the session, you will have the opportunity to explore new and existing TLS work while also getting a head start on potential projects of your own.

How to Do Teaching and Learning Scholarship (TLS)

In this customized workshop, your group will gain experience with a particular approach (of your choice)to gathering or analyzing evidence for a teaching and learning scholarship project. Previous topics have included methods such as survey-based research, photo narration, interviews and focus groups, qualitative coding (for student artifacts), scoping reviews, and ethical issues/IRB.?

Going Public with Teaching and Learning Scholarship

In this interactive session, we will identify potential audience(s) and explore publication strategies for your teaching and learning scholarship (TLS). Under the guidance of an experienced journal editor, you will learn more about the range of available outlets for taking your work public and identify a target journal for your next project.

Collaborative Projects in Teaching and Learning Scholarship

In this customized workshop, a coach will work with your group to design and develop a collaborative teaching and learning scholarship (TLS) project focused on a pedagogical topic of your choice.? You will leave the session with a working plan for initiating and completing your project, including presentation, publication, and/or grant proposals.

Professional Identity

How to be a Reflective Teacher

Do you find it difficult to engage in reflection or don't know where to start? In this interactive workshop, participants will consider the role of reflection at different moments before, during, and after the semester. We will discuss how our own beliefs about teaching, experiences in our classrooms, and feedback we receive from students and peers can serve as rich sources for reflection, self-assessment, and personal and professional growth. You will leave with strategies you might use to engage in the reflective process.

Writing a Powerful Teaching Philosophy Statement

A teaching philosophy statement is a powerful catalyst for reflecting upon your teaching. Reflect on your values and goals, describe how you enact them, and discuss how that impacts students' learning.

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