Continuing Professional Development Program

The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program is a faculty development curriculum that scaffolds learning experiences for new and continuing faculty of all ranks and graduate instructors of record across all disciplines. Through regularly offered workshops, CPD provides opportunities for faculty to document their growth and achievements in teaching through certifications at several levels. For information on upcoming  workshops and registration information,  see the Stearns Event Calendar

Level 1. Teaching Essentials

These one-hour workshops are ideal for instructors who are new to college teaching and want to learn the foundations of effective teaching as well as experienced instructors who want to implement new strategies. To earn the Level 1 Teaching Essentials Credential, participants complete the Fundamentals of Effective Teaching workshop plus three 1-hour workshops (one from each of the design, engage and assess categories) and submit the CPD Teaching Essentials Credential Form using the CPD Credential Submission Portal

  • Design Workshops
    • Relate to the Real World: How to Make Your Assignments Relevant (TILT) 
    • Syllabi That Support Learners and Instructors: Designing and Redesigning Syllabi for Inclusive Classrooms 
    • Syllabi that Support Learners and Instructors Follow-Up: A Hands-On Syllabus Workshop 
    • Avoid the Tyranny of Content: How to Make Room for the Good Stuff 
    • Reading as Active Learning in STEM Disciplines 
  • Engage Workshops
    • Anti-Racism and Inclusive Teaching: An Introduction to Developing More Inclusive Educational Spaces 
    • Making a Mid-Course Correction to Enhance Student Engagement 
    • Relate to the Real World: How to Make Your Assignments Relevant (TILT) 
    • Get Your Class Back on Track: How to Make a Mid-Course Correction 
    • Motivating Students in STEM Courses 
  • Assess Workshops
    • Student-Centered Assessment Strategies 
    • Reduce Your Workload: How to Grade Effectively and Efficiently 
    • Relate to the Real World: How to Make Your Assignments Relevant (TILT) 
    • Promoting Academic Integrity in STEM Classrooms 

Level 2. Teaching Competencies

These learning experiences are ideal for instructors who earned a Level 1 credential as well as those who want to focus on developing and implementing a specific teaching strategy.  To earn the Level 2 credential, participants complete a 10-hour mini course, bootcamp, seminar or other experience and submit a teaching artifact (i.e., syllabus, assignment sheet, lesson plan, etc.) and a CPD Teaching Competencies Form using the CPD Credential Submission Portal.  

  • Mini Courses: Primarily asynchronous short courses
    • Introduction to Integrating Artificial Intelligence into your Course 
    • Integrating Artificial Intelligence to Redesign Your Course 
  • Bootcamps: Hybrid, concentrated learning experiences
    • Dynamic Lectures
    • Active Learning Classroom

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.   


  • Level 1 Teaching Essentials
  • Level 2 Teaching Competencies
  • Level 3 Teaching Proficiencies
  • Pathway Credential: Completion of one Level 1 and one Level 2 credential
  • Dual Competencies Credential: Completion of two different Level 2 credentials

Questions about Level 1 and Level 2 credentials should be directed to Crystal Anderson, Level 3 credentials are issued by individual facilitators.

Continuing Professional Development: FAQs

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
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