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 graduate instructors of record across all disciplines and ranks. Through regularly offered workshops, CPD provides opportunities for faculty to document their growth and achievements in teaching through certifications at several levels.

Level 1. Teaching Essentials

Ideal for new and continuing faculty as well as graduate students who function as instructors of record who want to implement new strategies into their current courses. To earn the Level 1 credential, participants complete three one-hour workshops (at least one from each of the design, engage and assess categories) and submit the Level 1 reflection form.

  • Design Workshops
    • Fundamentals of Effective Teaching
    • Using TILT (Transparency in Learning and Teaching)
  • Engage Workshops
    • Using TILT (Transparency in Learning and Teaching)
  • Assess Workshops
    • Providing Feedback to Support Student Revision
    • Using TILT (Transparency in Learning and Teaching)

Level 2. Teaching Competencies

Ideal for new and continuing faculty as well as graduate students who function as instructors of record who want to develop and implement a specific teaching strategy. To earn the Level 2 credential, participants complete a ten-hour mini course, submit a teaching artifact (i.e. syllabus, assignment sheet, lesson plan, etc) and Level 2 reflection form.

  • Mini Courses
    • Designing Your Syllabus
    • Designing Assignments for Engagement

Level 3. Teaching Proficiencies

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.  Course Redesign Academy (CRA) is a two-day workshop with 5-8 hours of online supplemental modules where participants produce a mini portfolio.  Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) include 6-10 meetings across the year where participants produce a final FLC project.   

For information on upcoming  workshops and registration information,  see the Stearns Event Calendar


Continuing Professional Development: FAQs

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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
    • ...university-wide 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 Level 2 and Level 3  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 

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