Build It (Online) and They Will Come: Professional Development for Changing Times

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Instructional designers, department chairs, and faculty are invited to a tour and discussion of the Best Practices in Teaching (BPiT) curriculum. These three-week, online, discussion-based courses promote connections and relationships across disciplines and departments. Topics include inclusive pedagogy, critical thinking, student motivation, creating assignments, learning outcomes, and more.


Jennifer Todd is an Instructional Designer with The Institute for Learning and Teaching at Colorado State University where she is leading an effort to assist faculty and administration in defining effective teaching and using this definition as a framework for setting teaching goals and improving and evaluating teaching excellence. She collaborates with faculty to help them integrate students into every aspect of the learning process – from curricular alignment to assessment – with a focus on engagement, critical thinking, and metacognition. She has 20 years teaching and curriculum design experience from kindergarten to adult learners. In her free time, Jen enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, mountain biking, hiking, and paddle boarding.

Extended Abstract

As a faculty developer, how often have you heard any of the following: 

  • I’ve tried every new teaching technique over the last 20 years. 

  • How do I know this is going to work in my class? 

  • This teaching technique doesn’t pertain to me because I teach... (fill in the blank) STEM, large-enrollment classes, hybrid, online, grad students, first-year students… 

Most faculty are experts in their discipline but receive little to no training in pedagogy, which can leave them in a difficult position when they begin teaching. Depending on their department or institution, they are often left to develop their own teaching effectiveness and seek out their own professional development and rarely have the opportunity to receive constructive feedback from colleagues. To address this struggle, our team of instructional designers developed the Teaching Effectiveness Framework (TEF) in 2019. The TEF is a comprehensive, research-based conceptual framework that identifies seven domains of effective teaching. The framework also includes a set of tools for cultivating, mentoring, and evaluating teaching effectiveness. 

To aid instructors in effectively implementing evidence-based teaching practices highlighted in the TEF, our team also developed an online Best Practices in Teaching (BPiT) curriculum. The BPiT curriculum is based in research and scholarship on learning and teaching and was developed with support from colleagues across campus who provided interviews, resources, exemplars, and feedback on content. In it, participants learn about, apply, and reflect on the outcomes of the techniques presented in the courses that they integrate into their teaching. The comprehensive curriculum is asynchronous, so, while courses include specific assignment due dates, participants can complete these assignments according to their availability, accommodating their busy schedules. The 3-week, online courses address topics such as inclusive pedagogy, student motivation, creating assignments, learning outcomes, and more. Specifically,

  • BPiT courses align with our teaching and learning center’s Teaching Effectiveness Framework, which gives faculty a common language to use across the university for the purpose of integrating researched best practices, collaborating with colleagues, goal-setting, and annual review. 

  • The courses model the experience students can have when a course is intentionally designed and facilitated to be inclusive, student-centered, and collaborative.

  • Participants build a community of learners through course norms, discussion threads, and guided feedback and collaboration. 

Expert facilitation of the courses and standardized online course shells promote high-quality engagement, reflection, and discussion by participants and a consistent experience across sections. Limiting enrollment in each section of a course to 25 enables community-building, richer exchanges, and the cultivation of relationships among instructors across departments and disciplines. Participating faculty report meaningful, substantive revisions to instruction in their classes, their written reflections attesting to the depth of their integration of teaching approaches outlined in the courses. To date, we have seen evidence of the following:

  • Providing professional development through a facilitated online, asynchronous experience has resulted in increased attendance in professional development at our institution.

  • Engaging faculty in a course that models effective online facilitation has better prepared them to teach in a post-Covid world.

  • GTA’s, in particular, have expressed appreciation for the course content, its asynchronous delivery,  and being included in faculty development opportunities. 

BPiT propels a cultural shift towards emphasizing teaching at our institution 

Our teaching and learning center has been operating since 2008 and has had a moderate impact on campus. With the development of the TEF in 2018 and with the rollout of the BPiT online courses in 2019, we are experiencing a cultural shift toward our institution beginning to shine a spotlight on teaching and supporting our team’s work:    

  • since 2019, there have been 893 BPiT course completions by instructors;

  • upper administration provides resources for the development and facilitation of the BPiT courses; 

  • preliminary support from upper administration encourages faculty to take six courses during their first three years at CSU (one must be the Inclusive Pedagogy course -  faculty choose the other five); and

  • BPiT courses are slated to be included in the forthcoming Teaching Effectiveness Institute (TEI), a program that encourages our instructors to work toward earning Certificates of Accomplishment for each of the seven domains of teaching effectiveness included in the TEF by providing provost’s recognition of their efforts. 


  • Place attendees in breakout rooms for brainstorming and sharing opportunities at their own institutions for faculty development:

    • How are decisions about faculty development made?

    • What delivery format do you typically use to offer faculty development? What are the strengths and limitations of each format?

    • What resources do you have allocated to faculty development? 

    • How does  professional development at your institution model best practices in teaching?

    • What resources do you need to prepare faculty to teach in a post-COVID world?

  • Use an online worksheet to engage with the Teaching Effectiveness Framework

    • Review the TEF and identify a domain from the TEF that is a strength (for you, your department, or your institution) and a domain that has room to grow in a post-COVID world. What makes you say this?

    • Brainstorm ideas to create online professional development on a domain from the TEF

Key Takeaways

The BPiT curriculum produces outcomes for individual faculty members, faculty culture, individual students, and student success at the course and institutional levels. These outcomes include increases in students learning and academic success, increased proficiency and sustained growth for faculty in teaching effectiveness, and a foundation for departments to improve the assessment of teaching effectiveness. Participants will:

  • Identify a domain from the TEF that is a strength area as well as a domain that has room for growth for them as an instructor or their department or the entire institution.

  • Recognize the benefits of participating in (online) professional development with a focus on an inclusive and connected classroom climate. 

  • Identify necessary resources to design and develop online professional development opportunities that help faculty be better equipped to teach in a post-COVID world.