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Starting this fall, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in all disciplines will have new opportunities to develop their teaching skills through UT CIRTL, the university’s partnership with a national network called the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL).

Established in 2003 with support from the National Science Foundation, CIRTL is a network of forty-six research universities. The program’s core ideas involve teaching as research, learning communities, and learning through diversity.

CIRTL_logo_2012Using the network’s resources, including network exchanges and online courses, UT CIRTL will allow the university to offer new ways for graduate students to improve their teaching skills and boost their ability to find future jobs in academia.

Stan Guffey, a senior lecturer in biology who also serves on the faculty of the Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center (TennTLC) will serve as institutional leader of UT CIRTL. Ferlin McGaskey, assistant director of TennTLC, is the administrative co-leader.

“UT will develop its own programs built on CIRTL’s core ideas,” McGaskey said. “Our local learning community will offer its own robust schedule of courses, programs, events, internships, and resources that will address unique needs and goals. In addition, it will collaborate on cross-network projects with CIRTL partners and participate in national offerings.”

Guffey said that being part of the network will allow UT to connect with university learning communities online, so graduate students have a far more diverse experience in higher education than just their own campus.

“That means a student at UT can also be learning about teaching from another student or professor at Howard University, for instance,” he said.

Matthew Theriot, interim vice provost for faculty affairs and associate provost for teaching and learning innovation, said UT CIRTL is a significant new initiative.

“Graduate students and postdocs are some of our most important teachers on campus, especially to first- and second-year undergraduate students,” he said. “A program like UT CIRTL that helps our graduate students and postdocs become more effective instructors has the potential to positively affect key metrics like undergraduate student engagement, retention, and persistence to graduation. CIRTL also has the benefits of helping graduate students and post docs feel more confident in the classroom, enrich their experiences as teachers, and better prepare them for successful careers in higher education.”

To register for UT CIRTL seminars being offered this fall on the UT campus, follow the links to complete surveys by August 29.

Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows also can register for a variety of cross-network courses and workshops:

  • Course: Teaching with Technology—Tuesdays, September 27 through November 29
  • Course: Creating Assessments and Evaluation Plans—Tuesdays, October 4 through November 15
  • Course: An Introduction to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching (MOOC 1)—eight weeks, beginning the week of September 19
  • Course: Advancing Learning through Evidence-Based STEM Teaching (MOOC 2)— eight weeks, beginning the week of September 19
  • Workshop: Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement—Wednesdays, September 14 and 28
  • Workshop: Writing Effective Multiple-Choice Exam Questions—Tuesday, October 4
  • Workshop: Universal Design for Learning: Reaching and Teaching Diverse Learners—Wednesday, November 16

The nationwide CIRTL network is operated within the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the UW–Madison School of Education and is supported by the National Science Foundation, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation and Affiliates, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


Ferlin McGaskey (865-974-3807,

Stan Guffey (865-974-3807,