Preparing Future Faculty to Improve STEM Education: Broadening the National Impact of the CIRTL Network

The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) contributes to long-term improvement in STEM undergraduate education through the purposeful development of the future STEM faculty. The strategic leverage point by which CIRTL shapes the future national STEM faculty is graduate and postdoctoral preparation in teaching and learning.

CIRTL provides systematic and focused professional development to build future faculty expertise in evidence-based teaching.

Three core ideas - teaching-as-research, learning communities, and learning through diversity - and a detailed set of associated learning outcomes provide the conceptual framework for all CIRTL activities.

Research has established the efficacy of this approach. In particular, there is empirical evidence of the positive long-term impact of teaching professional development based on these ideas.

In Summer 2016 the CIRTL Network expanded to more than 40 research universities in the United States - a doubling of the earlier number of CIRTL institutions. This project is comprised of an integrated portfolio of initiatives for increased impact and widespread deployment of future faculty professional development in teaching. The initiatives work in two strategic directions:

1. increase the number of future faculty participating at each CIRTL Network university;

2. extend CIRTL opportunities to future faculty beyond the CIRTL Network.

To increase the number of future faculty participants within the CIRTL Network, CIRTL will develop and evaluate a set of new cohort-based learning communities: i) disciplinary learning communities in chemistry, engineering, life sciences and statistics; ii) teaching assistant learning communities; and iii) postdoctoral learning communities.

These will operate both locally and online. To extend opportunities to future faculty beyond the CIRTL Network, CIRTL will develop and evaluate: i) an online NSF Graduate Research Fellow learning community; and ii) partnerships in future faculty development with eight professional societies.

CIRTL will also build new bridges for its alumni to contribute to the CIRTL mission by developing and evaluating a CIRTL Alumni Network. These new initiatives have the long-term goal of preparing more than 8,000 STEM future faculty annually in the CIRTL Network, and to extend opportunities to many more beyond the Network.


Robert Mathieu



Project Website


Completed on August 31, 2022