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CIRTL at Columbia

CIRTL at Columbia is committed to developing local learning communities that promote proven teaching and mentoring techniques for STEM graduate students. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are invited to participate in local on-campus and national online cross-network programs.

When and Where

The STEM Teaching & Learning Community, sponsored by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and the Center for Teaching and Learning, will focus on Backward Design in STEM Teaching during the spring 2017 semester. These sessions are open to all graduate students and post-docs in science, math or engineering fields who are interested in learning about evidence-based approaches to undergraduate teaching and in forming a learning community with their STEM colleagues. Participants will form a learning community for the four weeks of the series and are therefore highly encouraged to register and attend every meeting on either the Morningside and Medical Center campuses.

Complete this form to register for the STEM Teaching & Learning Community

Note: You can sign up for the Morningside or the CUMC Learning Community. Space is limited.

Sign up

Morningside Campus

Mondays on February 6, 13, 20, and 27 from noon – 1:30 PM

Medical Center Campus

Wednesdays on February 8, 15, 22, and March 1 from 6:00 – 7:30 PM
Register for related events from the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs:
S.T.E.M. Outreach and Teaching Opportunities Info Session, January 24

Date: Tuesday, January 24

Time: 12:00-1:30 PM (Pizza will be served.)

Location: Medical Campus, Russ Berrie Building, Room 1

Register here.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) outreach entails working with children and young adults to increase their knowledge in S.T.E.M. topics and awareness of S.T.E.M. careers. Participation in outreach programs can be an immensely rewarding experience with great benefits for all involved. For graduate students and postdocs, educational outreach builds teaching and mentoring skills while demonstrating one’s interest in education – must for those considering faculty positions that entail teaching responsibilities.

This 90 minute info session will feature short presentations by 4 different Columbia outreach and teaching initiatives seeking volunteers and paid instructors for their programs. Additionally, the NYC Department of Education (NYC-DOE) will provide a short presentation on a paid opportunity for graduate students and postdocs to work with NYC high school science teachers to enhance their science curriculums. The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, in collaboration with the NYC-DOE, will also be running a STEM outreach colloquium in early April, and during the info session will be seeking graduate student and postdoc interested in delivering short presentations on their research to NYC high school students and teachers at the colloquium.


Preparing for a Faculty Career at a Primarily Undergraduate Institution, February 1

Date: Wednesday, February 1

Time: 5:30-7 PM

Location: (Medical Campus) Russ Berrie Building Room 2 (corner of W. 168th street and Saint Nicholas Ave)

Register here. 

Being a faculty member at a primarily undergraduate institution (PUI) can be a very different experience than being a faculty member at a research intensive university. This being the case, faculty search committees at PUIs look for different strengths and experiences in their candidates than faculty search committees at research intensive universities. Postdocs are typically familiar with what it takes to be competitive for a faculty position at a research intensive university, but many are unfamiliar with what it entails to be a faculty member at a PUI and how they should prepare during their postdoc in order to be a competitive candidate.

Nathan Lents, a Professor of Science at John Jay College, will deliver a share his experience obtaining a faculty position at a PUI after doing a postdoc at NYU School of Medicine, will provide information on what being a faculty member at a PUI entails, and will share his first-hand knowledge of faculty searches at PUIs after having served on several faculty search committees.

This talk should be attended by postdocs participating in the teaching course, but may also be attended by those interested in the topic but not participating in the teaching course. Pizza and refreshments will be provided.



Learn about on-campus and online CIRTL programs below

What is CIRTL?

In 2016, Columbia University joined the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL). CIRTL was established in 2003 by the National Science Foundation to improve teaching skills and increase the diversity of future university faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. CIRTL stresses the use of successful, evidence-based strategies proven to promote active learning and to help STEM students from all backgrounds succeed and complete their degrees.

The core ideas of the CIRTL program include:

Learning-through-diversity: Learning-through-diversity capitalizes on the rich array of experiences, backgrounds, and skills among STEM undergraduates and graduates-through-faculty to enhance the learning of all. It recognizes that excellence and diversity are necessarily intertwined.

Teaching-as-research: Teaching-as-research is the deliberate, systematic, and reflective use of research methods by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) instructors to develop and implement teaching practices that advance the learning experiences and outcomes of both students and teachers.

Learning Communities: Learning communities bring together groups of people for shared learning, discovery, and generation of knowledge. To achieve common learning goals, a learning community nurtures functional relationship among its members.

CIRTL is comprised of 46 member institutions across the U.S. and Canada. View all the member institutions here.


CIRTL offerings are intended for graduate students and postdocs in STEM and Social Science disciplines who are interested in enhancing excellence in undergraduate education through the development of a national faculty committed to implementing and advancing effective teaching practices for diverse learners as part of successful and varied professional careers. Though the Network emphasizes its role in preparing future faculty, faculty new to teaching would benefit from CIRTL as well.

On-campus Programs

The STEM Teaching & Learning Community, sponsored by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and the Center for Teaching and Learning, offers programs for graduate students and post-docs in science, math or engineering fields who are interested in learning about evidence-based approaches to undergraduate teaching and in forming a learning community with their STEM colleagues.

Spring 2017: Backward Design in STEM Teaching

Backward Design in STEM Teaching is a four-week series of interactive sessions where participants meet to learn about evidence-based teaching strategies and to produce a set of resources that they can use in their current or future teaching setting. The content is drawn from “An Introduction to Evidence-Based STEM Teaching,” an online course created by CIRTL. The series is available to graduate students and post-docs on the Morningside or Medical Center campuses.

This series is intended for graduate students and post-docs in science, math or engineering fields who are interested in learning about evidence-based teaching approaches to undergraduate teaching. Participants meet for an hour and a half over lunch or dinner once a week to watch short, engaging video lectures, discuss backward design and related teaching topics as they apply to the STEM classroom, and work in small groups to produce materials reflecting these evidence-based approaches.

Participants will form a learning community for the four weeks of the series and are therefore highly encouraged to register and attend every meeting. Each week tackles a different aspect of backward design (goal setting, assessment and active learning) and how to apply it in diverse college STEM classrooms, ending with an opportunity for reflection and feedback on the topics and materials we produce. Participants will engage in discussion stemming from videos and discussion led by CIRTL Fellow Susie Newcomb and will produce an individual portfolio of teaching materials with feedback from colleagues.

  • Learn from the experts. The series draws on a fantastic online course and set of resources developed by experts in STEM teaching from Universities across the country. Each session uses a curated set of videos and resources to enhance and support the discussion and guide the production of participants’ deliverables.


  • Become part of a community. The interactive nature of these sessions allows participants to meet and engage with like-minded colleagues. Bounce your ideas off other scientists and get specific feedback to help improve your teaching and frame your ideas about pedagogy. Network with other scientists who can support you in your future career!


  • Come away with a set of teaching materials. Teaching is a hands-on and highly individual process. During the workshop series, participants with have the opportunity to produce a set of lesson planning materials that can serve future teaching opportunities or help to frame teaching statements. Working in discipline-specific groups, participants will generate a set of specific learning goals, aligned assessments and learning activities that would serve diverse STEM students.

CIRTL Fellow and Facilitator


Susie Newcomb

Susie Newcomb

CIRTL Fellow

Susie is a PhD candidate in the department of Biological sciences and has been a fellow in the Center for Teaching and Learning hosting workshops on STEM teaching since 2014. Susie studied science education at Teachers College and has worked in the New York City public school system as a high school Biology and Chemistry teacher. Email:

Online Programs

How to get started:
We encourage STEM graduate students and postdocs to visit the CIRTL website to sign up (top right corner) and create a profile. Joining the CIRTL community is a great networking opportunity. You will be able to access online courses, resources, job postings, and the opportunities listed below.


CIRTL’s online courses and short courses on teaching and learning give graduate students and post-docs an interactive, synchronous, online learning experience led by faculty from CIRTL Network universities across the nation. CIRTL offers two MOOCs, each focused on different aspects of evidence-based STEM instruction. These MOOCs, designed and led by faculty across the country, are offered year-round.


CIRTL’s online workshops are tailored to helping graduate students and post-docs develop specific materials that can advance their teaching and research expertise. These workshops, led by faculty and staff from CIRTL institutions, cover a range of topics, like writing and implementing an individual development plan, and writing and refining teaching philosophy statements.

Learning Communities

CIRTL’s online learning communities give graduate students, post-docs, faculty, and staff a platform to make connections, share resources, and discuss new ideas. Learning Communities focus on issues of teaching and learning in STEM disciplines.


Weekly CIRTLCasts give current and future faculty the opportunity to learn about and discuss a wide range of topics related to STEM teaching and learning. Led by CIRTL Network faculty and staff, these online, synchronous events enable participants to dig deeper into issues of interest.

Journal Club

CIRTL’s journal club has monthly online, synchronous discussions about current research on teaching and learning in higher education.


Susie Newcomb, CTL CIRTL Fellow, 2016 – 2017

Suzanna Klaf, CIRTL Institutional Leader

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