Penn State University

Custom Workshops and Services

Our instructional consultants can design and deliver customized workshops on a variety of teaching and learning topics. These workshops are customized according to the individual needs of departments, academic units, or campuses. Below are some examples of customized workshops we have delivered.

Workshop Categories and Topics

Interested in one of these or other teaching and learning related topics?

Contact us at to discuss your specific needs.

Planning for Learning

The Syllabus Doctor

A well written syllabus is the beginning of a successful learning experience for your students. In this workshop we’ll discuss how to write a student-centered syllabus that will provide the anchoring necessary for a successful semester for you and your students.

Classroom Management

All instructors will encounter challenging student behaviors at some point, whether that means chronically late arrivals or early departures; distracting use of mobile devices or side conversations; microaggressions, inappropriate comments, hostility, or harassment; or some other unwelcome behavior. How we as teachers deal with such behaviors will have major impacts on the learning environment.

This workshop focuses on best practices for addressing potentially disruptive behaviors in the classroom before, during, and after they occur--without becoming part of the disruption yourself.

Creating Inclusive Courses

This workshop is designed for faculty interested in learning about strategies for creating course environments in which all students can learn. Faculty will have an opportunity to identify established inclusive teaching practices that they already use and commit to trying additional strategies. Together we will discuss why these practices are inclusive and why inclusion is critical for student success. We will consider research findings that indicate which contexts and actions create exclusive environments for students. Faculty will identify and plan responses to exclusionary incidents that may occur in our courses and think about alternative actions.

TA 101

TA 101 is an interactive workshop in which participants are presented with case scenarios commonly encountered by teaching assistants. Participants and facilitators then discuss effective ways of handling each scenario. Below are typical scenarios that can be selected; a 60- or 75-minute workshop allows time to discuss three or four scenarios.

  • TA oversteps expected role during class and inadvertently alienates the instructor of record
  • Students haven’t done the prep work for session, and TA must decide what to do next
  • Student asks a great question … which TA is unsure how to answer
  • TA encounters numerous complaints when returning a graded assignment
  • Student complains about prof to TA and then tells prof that TA agreed with complaints
  • Few students attend office hours, so TA works on own projects … but fails to notice some students who arrive to seek help
  • TA begins each session with mini-lecture; six students consistently arrive late, one by one
  • TA makes mistake on board and quickly corrects it; a student announces loudly: “I don’t see how we can be expected to learn if you’re constantly making mistakes”
  • Students complain that they can’t understand an international TA
  • Or some other scenario of interest to the requesting department

Universal Design for Learning

Discover and practice core Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles that address the variability of your students' levels of preparedness, learning preferences, and challenges presented 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 blended courses.

Transparency in Assignment Design

Do you consistently grade student work on a particular assignment that seems wide of the mark, misses the point, or seems like they haven’t read the instructions? Using a simple, three-part framework, you can help your students get closer to the mark. Recent research illustrates the potential impact of a deceptively simple idea: explaining to students why we do what we do (Winkelmes et al., 2016). In this session, we will help you improve the alignment between your intentions and what you have/ask your students to do. Please note: come ready to work!

Encouraging Learning

Decipher Disciplinary Thinking by Examining How Students Think and Learn in Your Field

When you teach, you do more than cover content; you also help students develop thinking processes specific to your discipline. We offer customized departmental workshops in which you and your colleagues use an established framework (Middendorf & Pace, 2004) to critically analyze your assumptions and teaching practices.

This workshop will help you create slides that are effective and engaging.

Large Classes, Big Challenges: Strategies for Instructor Success

Large classes can present big challenges to instructors and students alike. This interactive presentation introduces participants to strategies designed to foster student participation and class civility. We also discuss tips for handling grading for large amounts of students. This session is designed for people teaching classes of 40-500+.

Teaching with Technology

Curious what your Penn State colleagues are doing with technology in the classroom? This session explores several University-supported technologies, including blogs, wikis, lecture capture and VoiceThread, focusing on specific pedagogies employed with these various technology tools. Attendees will come away with an understanding of how these technologies can be applied to teaching and learning and where to go to get started with these technologies.

Working with Student Teams

As the use of multi-disciplinary, geographically dispersed teams in the workforce continues to rise, many instructors are incorporating team-based assignments as part of the curriculum. This workshop will examine several different approaches to teaming, specifically when working with student teams to complete large, complex class assignments. The workshop will cover methods for creating teams, strategies for monitoring team progress and strategies used to assess teams and their work.

Assessing and Reflecting on Learning

Getting Through the Stack: Grading that is Efficient and Effective

If you find grading to be time consuming and frustrating and you spend hours writing comments on student papers but are doubtful that your comments are implemented, or even read, we can help. In this workshop we will give you strategies on how to grade efficiently and effectively.

Student Ratings of Teaching Effectiveness (SRTE)

The Student Ratings of Teaching Effectiveness (SRTE) is Penn State's instrument for gathering feedback from students at the end of a course. The SRTE was created by the Faculty Senate in 1985 to improve consistency across all academic units in the evaluation of teaching for tenure, promotion, annual review, and reappointment. Because of the link to personnel decisions, faculty have many questions and concerns about SRTEs. We will come to your campus, college, department, or division to answer your questions about SRTE policy and discuss what we know about student ratings from the body of scholarly research. We also offer workshops for faculty, review committees, or administrators about how to respond to and interpret SRTE results.

Using Rubrics to Improve Grading

Do you dread scoring students’ essays? Do you love the assignments you’ve created but worry that you might not be scoring them consistently? Do your students ever complain that they don’t know “what you want”? Scoring rubrics may be the answer. This workshop will provide some rubric basics then guide you through designing a rubric that you can use in one of your courses.

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. In this workshop you’ll get some tips to help you write effective multiple choice questions and use statistical information to improve your question-writing.

Teaching and Learning Scholarship: What’s available to you

Short Term (30 Minutes or less)

  • One-on-one and group research coaching sessions (may be ongoing)
  • 30 Minute Mentor (short webinar/virtual development session)

Medium Range (1-3 Hours)

  • Consultation: Applications of teaching and learning scholarship/evidence-based practice
  • Consultation/Writing: IRB Applications
  • Consultation/Coaching: Developing your research question
  • Consultation/Writing: Teaching and Learning Scholarship Literature Reviews
  • Consultation/Writing: Teaching and Learning Scholarship Data Analysis
  • Consultation Writing: Teaching and Learning Scholarship Research Design
  • Workshop: Introduction to teaching and learning scholarship
  • Workshop: Integrating teaching and learning scholarship into your teaching practice
  • Workshop: Lessons learned from teaching and learning scholarship
  • Workshop: Doing teaching and learning scholarship
  • Workshop: An editor’s perspective on teaching and learning scholarship
  • Workshop Series: Developing a research question; designing your study; analyzing your data; publishing your work (can include certificate)
  • Workshop: Topic of your choice
  • Keynote (or similar address): Why teaching and learning scholarship?
  • Keynote (or similar address): The Frontiers of Teaching and Learning Scholarship
  • Keynote (or similar address): Integrating teaching and learning scholarship into your institutional culture
  • Keynote (or similar address): Your choice

Longer Term (3 hour or more)

  • 1/2 to 3 day Institute: Developing a teaching and learning scholarship project
  • 3-5 Session Academy: Developing a teaching and learning scholarship project
  • 3-5 Session Incubator: Starting a collaborative teaching and learning scholarship project
  • 5-10 Session Project Team: Managing a collaborative teaching and learning scholarship project (including grant development)
  • Consultation/Writing/Assessment: Grants related to teaching and learning scholarship

Student Engagement

Successful Student Engagement Techniques (SETs)

Discover and practice proven Student Engagement Techniques (SETs) grounded in active and collaborative learning techniques that address multiple learning styles. Participants will leave this workshop with ready-to-use classroom activities and assignments for immediate use in their classrooms.

Lectures That Keep Students Engaged

In this workshop we can help you design instruction that will keep your students engaged, focused and learning throughout the class period.

Motivating Students

Do your students seem to lack a strong work ethic, enthusiasm, and a general desire to learn? Poor student motivation can be a barrier to learning. In this workshop you’ll learn research-based strategies for increasing student motivation. You’ll feel differently about your students and leave feeling empowered to motivate them!

Professional Identity

Impostor Phenomenon

Impostor Phenomenon (also sometimes called Impostor Syndrome) is the belief, despite evidence to the contrary, that one is inadequate, unworthy, and does not belong in a particular role or position. One attributes one’s success to luck, luck that will soon run out. “I am a fraud,” that little voice inside says, “and it’s only a matter of time before everyone else knows it. I don’t belong here.” This set of beliefs and the attendant self-criticism can have profound consequences for our well-being, our enjoyment of life, work, and school, and our ability to perform at our true levels. Impostor Phenomenon is quite common in academia, and both teachers and students suffer in secret. In this workshop we will talk more about what I.P. is and how to recover a well-deserved sense of confidence, enjoyment, and satisfaction in our teaching, learning, and research. We will also explore ways to support those students in our classrooms with similar thoughts and feelings.

Writing a Powerful Teaching Philosophy Statement

Whether for a job search or professional development, a teaching philosophy statement is a powerful catalyst for reflecting upon one’s teaching. Past workshop participants say that the process of creating the document is as important as the finished work. In this workshop, participants will be asked to reflect on their values and goals as teachers, what their teaching looks like in action, and how students are changed as a result. This workshop can be helpful no matter how much or little you have already written or reflected upon your teaching, and is for graduate student instructors or faculty at any rank.

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