Continuing Professional Development Program

The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program is a faculty development curriculum that scaffolds learning experiences for new and continuing faculty and instructional TAs across all disciplines and ranks. Through regularly offered workshops and webinars, CPD provides opportunities for faculty to document their growth and achievements in teaching. 

The CPD program offers several levels of certification to reflect faculty development: 

  • Level 1: Teaching Essentials.  Three one-hour workshops that focus on the fundamentals of course design, engagement and assessment. Participants complete a reflection worksheet in which they apply their learning to a current course.   Ideal for new and continuing faculty, as well as graduate students with a TA appointment, who are adopting new (or new-to-you) tools/skills or beginning the early stages of course design.   
  • Level 2: Educational Resource Development. 6–10-hour mini courses on various topics that combine relevant readings in pedagogy with hands-on design and feedback. Participants complete a reflection worksheet and submit a completed educational resource for publication in AOLI, Stearns Center’s peer-reviewed repository. Offered in either a hybrid or largely asynchronous format, this mini course is ideal for faculty and TAs who want to build on their Teaching Essentials foundation. 
  • Level 3: Course ReDesign Academy (CRA) OR Faculty Learning Community (FLC). CRA is a two-day workshop with 5-8 hours of online supplemental modules. Participants produce a mini portfolio. FLCs include 6-10 meetings across the year. Participants produce a final FLC project. These experiences are ideal for continuing faculty who are redesigning or creating a course or faculty teams (including GTAs) collaborating on a course redesign or exploring new strategies.  
  • Level 4. Mixed Modalities Course Design (MMCD). A 40+-hour, seven-week online workshop where participants complete final course plan. 
  • Level 5. Online Course Design Primer. A 70+hour, seven-week course where participants complete a final online course plan.  

See Continuing Professional Development: FAQs for more information on the levels of certification as part of your continuing development at Mason.  

Continuing Professional Development: FAQs

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What are the five levels of CPD Credentials?

Stearns Center CPD programs offer something for every faculty member.

Level 1 Teaching Essentials

Workshops and webinars (60-minute and 90-minute) are open to all Mason faculty and graduate students. All CPD events emphasize community-building, reflective practice, and clear take-aways related directly to participants' own courses; in addition, workshops feature guided application-and-feedback activities to support participants’ engagement and learning. To see and sign up for workshops and webinars in the Design, Engage and Assess categories, see information on the Trainings page. 

Level 2 Educational Resource Development (Coming Spring 2022)

These mini courses are offered as hybrid (asynchronous online + synchronous/f2f meetings) or guided asynchronous formats. They provide an opportunity for faculty to develop course materials that are informed by best practices in pedagogy over an extended period. To sign up for these mini courses, see information on the Trainings page.  

Levels 3, 4 & 5

At Level 2, Course ReDesign Academy provides a two-day workshop supplemented by online modules and a whole-course-view project, while monthly participation in a yearlong Faculty Learning Community blends networking with peer-focused learning on special topics. At Level 3, Mixed Modalities Course Design (was Pivotal Pedagogy Foundations) provides a cohort-based, seven-week comprehensive course in teaching across modalities and/or incorporating flipped/hybrid pedagogies throughout a course. And at Level 4, Online Course Design Primer provides a cohort-based, seven-week comprehensive program for creating or redesigning an online asynchronous course.

All CPD levels will be offered on a regular basis in concert with faculty demand. Currently, our plans are to offer the following:

  • Level 1 (Teaching Essentials): Workshops are offered every fall and spring semester, with additional options for summer
  • Level 2 (Educational Resource Development): Coming Spring 2022!
  • Level 3 (Course ReDesign or Faculty Learning Community): CRA is offered every June and January; our Faculty Learning Community options change yearly
  • Level 4 (Mixed Modalities Course Design): MMCD is offered at least once a year when there is sufficient demand (summer)
  • Level 5 (Primer): OCDP is offered at least once a year when there is sufficient demand (summer)

What do faculty gain from participating in a credentialing program with Stearns Center?

Stearns Center CPD workshops provide guided, interactive learning experiences for faculty from all ranks and disciplines. The CPD credential does not testify to the quality of someone's teaching (evaluation is best left to the local departments and academic units) but documents the intentionality and reflective practice of a faculty member who is interested in expanding his/her/their teaching repertoire and is involved in continuous improvement of their own teaching. (For more information about best practices for participating in unit-based evaluation of teaching, please see the Provost's Office resource here.)

Faculty and graduate students may find the following benefits to CPD participation:

  • Building a network of peers who have shared interests in teaching and learning
  • Learning new concepts or strategies that can immediately enhance their own teaching
  • Acquiring observational frameworks and developing reflective practices that enable them to continue to review and improve their own teaching
  • Gaining specific language and approaches for talking about and showcasing their own teaching strategies in ways that can support them during
    • ...unit-level evaluation (hiring, reappointment, promotion, merit review, and/or tenure)
    • ...individual or collaborative course redesign efforts
    • initiatives (such as Quality Enhancement Programs or online degree program development) that emphasize curriculum improvement
    • ...applications for grants, awards, or fellowships
    • ...planning for and participation in in SoTL (scholarship of teaching and learning) research for local or national presentation or publication

For more information, see our resource page on documenting your teaching.

How do faculty earn CPD credentials?

Credentials for our extended (Level 2-5) programming are issued upon completion of the full course/community.

A single CPD event can provide useful information, but transformative learning and lasting professional development requires breadth and integration of skills. Earning the CPD Level 1 Teaching Essentials credential is as easy as 3-1-1 

  • Complete three live CPD events--workshops or webinars--one in each of the Design, Engage and Assess categories, within one calendar year.  
  • Of the three, at least one must be a workshop where faculty engage with their peers to give and provide feedback on their teaching approaches.  
  • Complete and submit the reflection form for one workshop or webinar using the CPD Level 1 Credential Submission Portal. Each category has a corresponding form: 

Workshops and certifications may be repeated as faculty can demonstrate that they are working on different courses or course projects.  Stearns Center staff will confirm your workshop participation and issue your credential. We encourage faculty to list these credentials in their annual reports, on their cv's, and/or in other materials relevant to their learning and achievements as teachers.

I completed CRA/PPF/Primer previously; does that count?

Yes! All prior participants in our long-form courses can choose to list them either individually in their professional records (e.g., "Completed Course ReDesign Academy June 2018") or to identify them as part of the overall CPD (e.g., "Completed Stearns Center Level 3 CPD: Pivotal Pedagogy August 2020").

Can I complete more than one CPD?

Yes! Please note that our CPD levels are progressively inclusive: if you work on your Advanced Topics in Microbiology course at Level 1, you may participate with that same course in a Level 2 or higher CPD.

However, if you participate with that course in Online Course Development Primer, that Level 5 CPD includes all of the prior levels of learning, so there's no option to also earn a separate CPD credential for that course at Level 1. You may always choose a new course to work on at any level.

What other opportunities for CPD credentials are planned?

Depending on demand, we are hoping to implement the following options over the 2021-2022 year:

  • CPD focused on course delivery strategies (f2f) and course/time management strategies (online) for faculty and graduate students who teach from a standard syllabus
  • CPD focused on upcoming Mason initiatives such as the QEP and the Anti-Racist Curriculum and Pedagogy efforts
  • Additional specialized topics or more advanced strategy sequences
  • Integrations with other Stearns Center programming like the Innovations in Teaching and Learning Conference and Teaching Squares