December 7, 2020

Continuing Professional Development Workshops

Continuing Professional Development Workshops and Credentialing

Welcome to our Spring 2021 pilot of our new Continuing Professional Development Programs for Level One Credentials!

Our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) workshops are designed for new and continuing faculty and instructional TAs at Mason, across all disciplines and ranks. Our workshops and series are designed to encourage and support faculty who are

  • seeking new insights and practical strategies about their teaching
  • participating in ongoing professional development regarding their teaching
  • documenting their growth and achievements in teaching at Mason

Individual Workshops: Individual workshops in our CPD series are always open to all Mason faculty and graduate students. These workshops emphasize community-building, reflective practice, and clear take-aways related directly to participants’ own courses.

NEW! for Spring 2021: Workshop Series for Level One CPD Credentials: A single workshop can provide useful information, but transformative learning and lasting professional development requires breadth and integration of skills. To earn a Stearns Center “Essentials” or “Exploration” Level One credential, instructors need to

  • complete at least three workshops (one in each category: design, engage, assess) within a 12-month period
  • submit a final Annotated Course Document and Reflection based on one of those workshops. Information about the Annotated Course Document will be provided at each workshop.

Workshops and certifications may be repeated as faculty can demonstrate that they are working on different courses or course projects. See below for more information on our extended credential programs, Level 2-4.

For the upcoming semester, our Essentials Workshop Schedule is as follows (please see full descriptions, updated and exact times, and registration links on our Trainings and Webinars page):


  Design Engage Assess
Teaching Essentials Series Designing Your Syllabus for Student Success and Engagement in Multiple Teaching Modalities
Wednesday, January 13th and Thursday, January 14th, 10:00 – 11:30 am
First Day/First Week: Motivating Students and Managing Expectations in Multiple Teaching Modalities
Thursday, January 21st and
Friday, January 22nd, 10:00 – 11:30 am
Redesigning Activities to Maximize Student Success and Engagement in Multiple Teaching Modalities
Wednesday, February 10th and Thursday, February 11th, 10:00 – 11:30 am
Designing and Supporting Writing Assignments
February 2021 TBA
Writing to Learn: Using writing to engage students and promote critical thinking
February 2021, TBA
Redesigning Assignments to Maximize Student Success and Engagement in Multiple Teaching Modalities
Wednesday, February 24th and Thursday, February 25th, 10:00 – 11:30 am
Responding to Student Writing
March 2021 TBA
Online Teaching Series Is Your Online Course Ready for Spring 2021?
Friday, January 22, 2021, 1:30 – 2:30 pm
Engaging Online Learners: Building Interactive Content
Friday February 12, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Alternative Assessments for Online Courses: Design Challenges and Options
Thursday, February 4th, 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Basic Questions about Accessibility and Usability in Online Courses
Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 1:00 – 2:00 pm
How to motivate online students in asynchronous learning environments
Friday, April 2, 2021, 11:00am-12:00pm
Alternative & Authentic Assessments: Student Perspectives
Friday April 16, 2021, 1:30 – 2:30 pm
Engaging Video: Design Considerations and Strategies
Thursday, March 11th, 1:00-2:30pm
Teaching Explorations Series Planning for Blended Learning: Zoom + Blackboard
February, TBA
Active Learning: Teaching in Horizon Hall
Tuesday, January 19th, 10:00 – 12:00 pm
Transparency in Learning and Teaching for Assignment Design (TILT)
April 21, 2021
Teaching with new collaborative software
March TBA


Continuing Professional Development: FAQs

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What are the four levels of CPD Credentials?

Stearns Center CPD programs offer something for every faculty member. Our Level One Series focus on key moments in course design and implementation. A credential at that level can be completed in just 6-8 hours: three workshops and a final Reflective Document completed within a 12-month period.

At Level Two, 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 Three, 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 Four, 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:

  • All Level One Workshop Series offered every fall and spring semester, with possible options for summer
  • Level Two (Course ReDesign) offered every June and January, with annual Faculty Learning Community options
  • Level Three (Pivotal Pedagogy) offered at least twice a year (summer plus one semester)
  • Level Four (Primer) offered at least twice a year (summer plus one semester)
Credential Focus Estimated Time & Tasks Appropriate for…
Level 1
Teaching Essentials: Core Workshops series offered every semester (must be attended live)
Concept and Application
Core teaching concepts and application to faculty’s courses
5-7 hours:
Complete three 90-minute workshops across at least two categories (design, engage, assess)
Revise, annotate, and reflect on one course document and submit for review
New faculty
Graduate students who have a TA appointment
Continuing faculty who are engaged in ongoing professional development
Faculty who are in the early stages of course redesign
Level 1
Online Course Essentials
Core Workshops series offered every semester (must be attended live)
Concept and Application
Core course design and assignment concepts and application to faculty’s courses
5-7 hours:
Complete three 90-minute workshops across at least two categories (design, engage, assess)
Revise, annotate, and reflect on one course document and submit for review
Faculty new to online teaching
Continuing faculty (and GTAs who are instructors of record) who are engaged in ongoing professional development regarding online courses
Faculty who are in the early stages of course redesign
Level 1
Teaching Explorations: Special Topics webinars and workshops offered as specific opportunities arise
Concept and Application
Applying (new) tools, approaches, or insights into faculty’s current teaching
5-7 hours:
Complete three 90-minute workshops or webinars designated as “Special Topic”
Create an implementation plan or reflect on and revise one course document and submit for review
New and continuing faculty and graduate TAs who are adopting new (or new-to-you) tools or skills
Continuing faculty who are engaged in ongoing professional development
Faculty who are participating in a related GMU curriculum initiative
Level 2
Course ReDesign Academy
Two-day workshop and supplemental modules offered every January and June
Course Planning & Integration
Includes core concepts and application, and adds integration of essential concepts and tools throughout a new or redesigned course
25-30 hours:
Complete online introduction modules (5-8 hours)
Attend a two-day workshop
Submit a ReDesign Mini Portfolio
Continuing faculty who are redesigning a course
Continuing faculty who are creating a new course
Faculty teams (including GTAs) who are collaborating on a course redesign
Level 3
Pivotal Pedagogy Fundamentals
Seven-week workshop offered twice a year
Course Design and Implementation
Includes core concepts, application, and integration, and provides in-depth skills support leading to full-course (re)design
40+ hours:
Complete seven-week course, 5-7 hours per week
Complete final course plan
New and continuing faculty (and GTAs who are instructors of record) who are switching from face-to-face to blended or hybrid modalities (including synchronous web-conferencing and asynchronous online)
New and continuing faculty (and GTAs who are instructors of record) who are implementing active learning especially in large section courses (>60 students) and creating blended modalities in support
Level 4
Online Course Design Primer
Seven-week workshop offered twice a year
Course Design and Implementation
Includes core concepts, application, and integration, and provides in-depth skills support leading to full-course (re)design for an online, primarily asynchronous course
70+ hours:
Complete seven-week course, 7-10 hours per week
Complete final course plan
New and continuing faculty (and GTAs who are instructors of record) who preparing to design (or redesign) and teach an online asynchronous course


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 our extended (Level 2-4) programming are issued upon completion of the full course/community.

To complete a Level One CPD credential,

  • Choose a CDP Level 1 series:
    • Teaching Essentials
    • Online Course Essentials
    • Teaching Explorations
  • Register for and attend three 90-minute workshops in the series, including one from each of the three categories
    • Course Design
    • Student Engagement
    • Learning Assessment
  • Submit an Annotated Course Document (such as a syllabus, assignment or activity description, or screenshot of a Blackboard course item) related to one of the workshops along with a brief reflection connecting that document to the other two workshops (more information provided at each workshop)
  • You have 12 months from the date of the first workshop you attend to complete these four steps. Workshops do not need to be completed in a specific order.

Stearns Center staff will review Annotated Course Documents at the end of each term to assess your application of workshop concepts, 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 4 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:

  • Asynchronous versions of Level 1 CPD series
  • 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