Aspirational Teaching Institute

Striving for Student Success in Gateway Courses

Program Overview

The Aspirational Teaching Institute will bring faculty to the Center for Transformative Teaching for a semester-long program designed to help tackle major teaching challenges. Unlike single-topic workshops and other programs, this institute will take place over a 16-week period and will be designed as if it were a course with bi-weekly synchronous sessions, instructional materials, and targeted support and feedback. Topics may vary from semester to semester. The first offering of the institue, for the Spring 2022 semester, will be Striving for Student Success in Gateway Courses.

The Striving for Student Success in Gateway Courses program will tackle the questions:

  • Why do so many students struggle to succeed in their courses?
  • What can you do to help? More specifically, how can you design your gateway course in a way that helps as many students succeed as possible?

The program facilitators from the CTT, with help from relevant campus leaders, will take point on answering the first question, and participants will develop answers to the second question. Facilitators will offer ideas and guidance but, ultimately, teaching is a personal endeavor, and the right ways of addressing these problems will need to be highly individualized. What works well for one instructor, or for one course, may not work for another. Participants will need to consider which ideas make sense, which seem to fit with their personal style of teaching, and which seem to fit with the course they are teaching and the specific challenges they and their students are experiencing. While designing their distinct approaches, participants will have help along the way from fellow participants, CTT team members, and even students.

Institute Schedule

The Aspirational Teaching Institute will meet every other Wednesday during the spring semester, starting on January 19th, from 1:30-2:30 with a half hour of additional time allotted for casual discussion extending until 3 p.m. All of these instructional sessions will be held remotely.

At the same time on the alternating weeks, we will hold optional working sessions in the form of either a participant discussion time or an open office hours with instructional designers on hand to help brainstorm new approaches to the challenges participants are facing. These sessions will be held in a hybrid format.

If you're interested in this programming, but have a scheduling conflict, we'd ask that you still register with the "Interested but Conflicted" option so that we can include you in communications that you might find relevant.

Institute Structure

The first of our eight instructional sessions will feature CTT Director Nick Monk and the two program facilitators laying out the details of the program. All subsequent sessions will involve an asynchronous guest lecture (posted to Canvas the week before the group meeting) by a campus leader whose work is relevant to the challenge of the week. At group meetings, representatives from the CTT will follow up on the campus leader’s presentation by providing initial thoughts on how participants could address the specific challenge in teaching. Following that, there will be an opportunity for questions and an open discussion.

After each session, participants will have an opportunity to prepare and potentially share a reflection in which they:

  • provide observations about how the given challenge plays out in their own course;
  • summarize what steps (if any) they already take to try addressing the challenge; and
  • identify steps they would like to consider taking in the future.

Time will be reserved at the beginning of the following session for debriefing: participants may want to reflect on things from the previous session that have stuck with them or offer observations they have made in their class(es) in the intervening time.

As a final deliverable for this program, the facilitators will invite participants to prepare detailed plans for each of the changes or interventions identified as being worthwhile. As these plans are designed, participants are encouraged to take abundant advantage of opportunities to consult with peers in the program, program facilitators, students, and applicable instructional designers.

Options for Participation

While we have designed the program to address specific challenges in gateway courses, most of the issues being discussed have broader applicability. As such, we've designed the program to be as flexible as possible. When registering, we ask you to select one of the following ways of being involved: 

Committed Engagement: Institute

If you teach a gateway course, want to do a deep dive into these challenges, and have room in your schedule for a semester-long commitment, then this option is for you. Institute participants will be expected to attend all eight topics (or coordinate an alternate type of engagement with the program facilitators should complications arise), write a brief reflection after each one, and complete the final deliverable. Those who complete all these activities will be issued a certificate of completion for the Aspirational Teaching Institute.

Curious Lurking: Workshops

If you're interested in some or all of the topics but don't have the time to commit to fully completing this as a program, you're welcome to register as a "lurker" and attend individual topics that you're interested in without taking on an obligation to complete reflections or attend every session. Please be sure to register for the institute using this option so that we can make sure to include you in relevant updates, such as when new guest presenter videos are available on the Canvas site.

Interested but Conflicted: Scheduling Complications

Scheduling for these types of activites can be very difficult, because everyone has obligations at different times. But we don't want anyone who's interested to be left out entirely. If the Wednesdays at 1:30 time doesn't work in your schedule, but you're interested in these topics, please register with this option. We'll continue to share resources that come from this institute with you and would be happy to include your voice asynchronously where applicable.

Although we're asking you to express your intent during initial registration, we understand that your availability may change along the way, and we're happy to accommodate adjustments accordingly.

Outline of Topics

A complete list of the eight topics that will be discussed throughout the semester, including information on the guest and instructional designer presenters, can be found on the course syllabus page in Canvas.

Register Here