The Center for Teaching and Learning Earns Bronze!

Congratulations to the Oregon State University Center for Teaching and Learning on earning the bronze-level Green Office Certification!

Some highlights from their results include:

  • Reusable kitchenware and silverware for employees to use.
  • Utilizing OSU Surplus to find and dispose of furniture and office supplies.
  • Signage around the office encouraging water conservation and waste reduction.

About the Certification:

The Green Office Certification is a simple yet effective way for OSU faculty and staff to further their sustainability efforts and get recognition for their work. It is also intended to provide new ideas for easy steps your office can take to reduce your environmental footprint and carbon emissions.

It takes the shape of an online Qualtrics survey that assesses current office practices under five categories: Utilities, Waste Management, Office Purchasing, Transportation and Travel, and Outreach, Engagement, and Professional Development.

Possible Certification Levels:

  • Bronze (50-59%)
  • Silver (60-69%)
  • Gold (70-79%)
  • Platinum (80+%)

Those interested in learning more or completing the Green Office Certification can reach out to

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This blog captures the discussion of the thinking and instructional practices of outstanding teachers in the introduction to Ken Bain’s (2004) book, What the best college teachers do.

“Great teachers emerge, they touch the lives of their students, and perhaps only through some of those students do they have any influence on the broad act of teaching. For the most part, their insights die with them….” (p. 3).

Are great teachers born or made? Bain studied sixty-three of the best college teachers in the United States to capture and document their thinking and evidenced-based instructional practices in order to address the question that other teachers might ask, specifically: How did they do it?

The definition of excellence in teaching derived from the instructional practices of these outstanding teachers affirmed that they attained significant success in facilitating their students’ learning. Specifically, they made lasting, sustained and positive impact on how “students think, act, and feel” (p. 5). Furthermore, the professors selected for the study had to meet two critical tests. First, they had to show irrefutable evidence that students were greatly satisfied with their teaching to the point that they were inspired to continue to learn long after the class was over. Second, they had to demonstrate that what students learned was derived from learning objectives which were adjudged to be valuable and substantial by scholars in the discipline or field of study.

The evidence of sustained and deep learning was not predicated on seemingly favorable students’ comments related to their success in accomplishing the work required in a course. Rather, the evidence was extrapolated from comments that pointed to how the learning experiences that students encountered in a course stimulated their ability to develop multiple perspectives and metacognitive skills.

Bain (2004) delineated six general patterns which characterized the thinking and instructional practices of the best college teachers included in the study. The following conclusions emerged from the six questions posed to the teachers:

  1. What do the best teachers know and understand? The best college teachers have extremely deep knowledge and understanding of their teaching subjects. This should come as no surprise since people are not likely to become outstanding teachers unless they are well-versed in what they teach. However, having deep knowledge of the subject and possessing the capacity to clarify deep concepts, break them down, and simplify them to students is a separate matter. The best college teachers have extraordinary capability to facilitate student learning and understanding of the deep, foundational and overarching concepts and principles that encompass their disciplines.
  2. How do they prepare to teach? The best college teachers consider their teaching a serious intellectual pursuit that is equally as important as their research and scholarship. When the outstanding teachers selected for the study were asked to describe what they asked themselves when they prepared to teach, their responses did not follow the usual teacher-centered patterns related to what they will teach or how they will test. The questions that the best college teachers asked themselves focused on student learning objectives rather than what the teacher will teach or do.
  3. What do they expect of their students?  The best college teachers expect more from their students, not in terms of imposing busy work that do not produce lasting impact on student learning. Instead, they focus student learning on authentic, real-life learning objectives.
  4. What do they do when they teach? The best college teachers create a lively learning environment, what Bain (2004) called a “natural critical learning environment” where students encounter problems and real-life tasks which challenge them to deal with abstract ideas and force them to reconsider their assumptions and their perspectives on reality. Consequently, they create learning environments where students receive formative feedback to improve their learning, have frequent opportunities to work collaboratively with their peers, and are empowered to own their own learning.
  5. How do they treat students? The best college teachers tend to have positive perceptions of students. They hold a belief that students want to learn and that all students can learn. Furthermore, these outstanding teachers evince openness in their classroom interactions with students. They often communicate with students about the successes and failures of their own academic journey therefore, creating an environment for students to be introspective about their learning.
  6. How do they check their progress and evaluate their efforts? The best college teachers use an orderly approach to assess their own teaching and make requisite adjustments on a consistent basis. With outstanding teachers, evaluation of student work serves a dual purpose: to assess student attainment of specified learning objectives, and to gather feedback on the effectiveness of their own teaching actions.

Bain (2004) did not leave the reader with the impression that the outstanding teachers featured in the study are superheroes or that they are above any forms of lapses in judgement and performance in their teaching. Rather, he stated emphatically, “Nobody is perfect” (p. 19). The best college teachers do have bad days, and they do experience failures and frustration in their efforts to reach students. However, they do not engage in the practice of blaming their teaching challenges on students. Outstanding teachers use those challenges as fodder for reflection on their teaching.

Finally, Bain enjoined other teachers to use the thinking and instruction practices documented in the book to engage in continuing critical reflection on their teaching. Also, he reiterated that  college teachers need to deem their teaching as valuable intellectual work that can be improved by observation, critical analysis, reflective conversations with colleagues, and by peer critiques because “good teaching can be learned” (p. 21).


Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Funmi Amobi is an instructional consultant and College Liaison in Oregon State University’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Funmi provides consultations to faculty in individual and small group settings to support teaching excellence and student success. Funmi holds a doctorate degree in secondary education with major emphasis in curriculum and instruction from Arizona State University.  As a reflective practitioner, she is a life-long student of the scholarship of teaching and learning.


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What’s Your Teaching Philosophy? CTL Tuesday Teaching Talks are rolling

OSU’s Center for Teaching and Learning has kicked off it’s Fall 2019 Tuesday Teaching Talks with Tech (T4). T4 are teaching workshops that support the development of knowledge and skills in the planning of curriculum; facilitation of instruction; and assessment of learning.

Teaching philosophies provide instructors with a core to guide course design and pedagogical practices. Teaching philosophies reflect personal values and beliefs about teaching, and are self-reflective statements that describes both what you believe and provides concrete examples of what you do in the classroom to support those beliefs. The CTL T4 provided an overview of this important component of being an instructor.

The first T4 was a great kick off for the term! We had a little over 50 participants, including online participation. Participants learned about key components of teaching portfolios and philosophies and received resources and support to begin creating their own drafts/sites. A big topic of conversation that surfaced in both sessions was around the purpose of both (philosophies and portfolios) for the advancement of teaching and learning. We also discussed what OSU is doing to push for the use of these tools.

Check out the full line-up of talks here:


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College of Liberal Arts Celebrates Outstanding Teaching at CLA DAY!

At the OSU CTL we are committed to creating and sustaining a culture of teaching excellence. We are always thrilled to see how different colleges and units on campus celebrate the hard work that goes into classroom and online instruction. Just recently, CLA shone the spotlight on teaching in their College.  We join them in cheering on the Teaching Award winners in particular.  If you celebrate teaching in your college, let us know so we can share the accolades with a broader audience.

The Thomas R. Meehan Excellence in Teaching Award–Recognizes outstanding contributions to undergraduate teaching in the College of Liberal Arts. This honor is made possible by Thomas and Margaret Meehan and carries a $3,500 award.

Sharyn Clough, Professor in the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion. Shari’s tireless dedication to innovative teaching and her passion for engaging students both within and outside of the classroom make her a truly exceptional teacher.Shari’s dedication to undergraduate education at OSU extends from her work with Philosophy majors and minors to teaching students in the University Honors College and across the university. Whether in upper-division Philosophy courses, Honors College courses and seminars, or in Bacc Core courses, Shari energetically adapts her teaching to suite her diverse audiences.Shari’s course syllabi reflect her dynamism, being updated frequently to reflect innovations and developments in the field and new and emergent pedagogical models. She creates an inviting, inclusive classroom, the successof which is evident in the great range of gender, cultural, and ethnic diversity among her students.Shari has consistently demonstrated profound dedication and innovation in her teaching, both inside and outside of the classroom, throughout her career at OSU.

The Isabelle Brock Memorial Outstanding Instructor Award–Recognizes exceptional contributions by a CLA Instructor through teaching and mentoring students.

Ameer Almuaybid, Instructor in the School of Psychological Science. Ameer’s dedication to student success has led to phenomenal opportunities and outcomes for students. A lotof students. Since starting as a full-time instructor in Fall 2016, Ameer has taught 5,342 students in 26 sections. Ameer mostly teaches General Psychology, a Bacc Core class that is also required for the Psychology major. These courses can be challenging because of the course size; up to 395 students per section.As part of a new effort to create a greater sense of belonging and engagement for Psychology majors, in addition to his teaching duties, Ameer piloted a new Psychology careers class to welcome new majors, including first term students and transfer students. Ameer found an outstanding lineup of employers to present in class, with some students actually hired straight out of the careers class.Ameer also launched a new Psychology club open to any student interested in Psychology. The club regularly draws over 100 students to meetings. Ameer and the team of club officers created career nights, field trips, and service learning projects with campus partners in Career Services, Psi Chi (the International Honor Society in Psychology), and CAPS.

Cheers to Shari and Ameer!!

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Thank you for the endorsement President Ray.

“Each of us can contribute to the university’s student success initiative…share with students that you are here to help their success and help them succeed. Or attend one of the Tuesday Tech Talks put on by the Center for Teaching and Learning.” – President Ed Ray, Oregon State University. From his address to the campus community on University Day [Around Minute 8]

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CTL Reaches out to OSU Faculty in Eastern Oregon

Eastern Oregon landscape illustrates the rural, agricultural character of the state east of the Cascades.The faculty of OSU’s Agriculture and Natural Resource Program at Eastern Oregon University participated in a CTL workshop on Blended, Flipped and Hybrid Course Design and Teaching. The Agriculture and Natural Resources Program is a long-standing cooperative relationship between EOU and OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences to serve students, communities and industries of eastern Oregon and the Intermountain West.

In the workshop, the Agriculture and Natural Resources faculty learned how to apply effective practices to integrate classroom and online learning in course design and teaching to enhance student success. They enthusiastically took part in a variety of activities to build their capacity to implement blended course design and teaching beginning this fall.

Not only is there an art in knowing a thing, but also a certain art in teaching it. -Cicero

Inspiration for faculty on EOU’s Inlow Hall

The workshop is an example of CTL’s commitment to reach out to OSU faculty wherever they are based. This commitment is embodied in options for faculty to participate remotely through Zoom in Tuesday Teaching + Tech Talks and New2OSU. You’re invited to join us, wherever you are!

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Start Strong: Tips for an Effective First Day of Class

The first day of class sets the tone for the rest of the semester (Lang, 2019; Saucier 2019). Also, the first day of class comes with some nervousness, “first-day jitters,” even for experienced university teachers. There are several instructional tips for ensuring that the first day gets off to a good start. Lang encapsulates them into four productive principles for striking the right cord with students on the first day of class: Curiosity, Community, Learning and Expectations.


While it is important to direct students’ attention to course policies, assessments and assignments on the first day of class, this activity should not be the centerpiece of the first day class. Setting a good feeling tone for the class on the first day requires that the instructor endeavor to whet students’ appetite and spark their curiosity for the course content first, before even handling out the syllabus. The principle of curiosity is reminiscent of the function of the anticipatory set in lesson planning; the purpose is to hook students, grab their attention and intentionally invite them to participate in a stimulating intellectual journey. Effective strategies for generating student curiosity for the course encompass the following:

§     Reflect on what first fascinated you about the subject matter or discipline. Share your reflection with students.

§     Connect the core knowledge that will be presented in the content of the course with real life experiences of students today.

§     Communicate to students why the content of the course is significant and relevant to them and to life outside the classroom.

In other words, share your sweet spot of the content of the course with students on the first day of class.


The instructor is definitely not the only one going through first day jitters. The first day of class is a roller-coaster of emotions for students too. They are encumbered with anxieties about time, finances and other personal commitments. It is essential to implement activities that will foster a sense of community and make the classroom an inviting atmosphere for each student right from Day 1. Lang (2019) describes the intellectual journey of facilitating student learning in a semester-long course as a “caravan journey.” As the leader of the caravan, it is the instructor’s responsibility to make sure that each student is empowered to function as a successful co-constructor of the learning experiences that will be produced in the course.  Effective approaches for getting everyone fully on board beginning from day one include the following:

§     Get to class early. Greet students as they come in. Walk around, talk to as many students as you can, ask for their names and other bits of information such as their hometown, major, class level. Use humor; humanize yourself to the students, tell them that you are glad to have them in class for the semester.

§     Introduce yourself effectively “as a unique person sharing the classroom with other unique individuals” ( Consider sharing succinct and pertinent information about your personal biography, educational and intellectual biography.

§     Tell them why you have chosen your area of expertise and a little bit about any relevant current or future research project(s). Convey your enthusiasm for teaching and learning to students.

§      Give students the opportunity to introduce themselves. Instead of the usual format of individual introductions, divide students into pairs or small groups and have them complete a simple task that will allow them to get to know each other in the context of the course material.

§     Make it personal. In a chemistry class, the instructor may ask students to introduce themselves and exchange information about how chemistry enriches their everyday lives. Have pairs or members of small group introduce their peers and the information that they exchanged to the rest of the class.

Humanizing yourself to students and getting them into pairs or small groups to introduce themselves in the context of course material sets the tone for the kind of interaction they should expect from you. Furthermore, it sets the tone for the kind of involvement and engagement you will expect from them throughout the semester. This is the essence of cultivating a positive and welcoming classroom environment from Day1.


Learning in the course should not be suspended until the second class meeting. Part of whetting students’ appetite about the course is to engage them in a cognitive task related to course material on the first day. A lecture is not recommended. Instead, use an activity such as the Background Knowledge Probe (BKP) questionnaire to uncover students’ assumptions about the content of the course and also, to document pre-post knowledge gains. On the first day, give students a challenging task for example a few multiple-choice or short answer questions similar to what they will encounter on the mid-term or the final examination. Students will respond to each question with one of the following codes:

1.     I don’t even recognize the content of this question.

2.     I can’t answer the question but know where I can look it up.

3.     I know the answer to this question.

4.     I know the answer and could give at least one example.

5.     I know this well enough to teach my classmates about it (Baker, n.d.).

Upon completion of the BPK questionnaire, students can work together in pairs or small groups to discuss the test items, review the pages in the textbook or other course learning material to identify the information related to each item. The purpose of learning on the first day is to inform the instructor about the levels of students’ understanding. This knowledge should help to shape instruction in the ensuing weeks. At the same time, students’ participation in a BPK classroom assessment activity should help to heighten their awareness of the content areas of the course where they need to dedicate more study time.


The principles of curiosity, community and learning are guidelines for creating a lively learning environment and engaging students in learning on the first day. However, it is apparent that students will come to the classroom with a lot of expectations about the requirements of the class, course materials, assignments and course policies. Students will want to have a comprehensive response to the question: what do I need to do to be successful in this class? Therefore, it is important that some portion of the first day is allotted to delineating the expectations of the class with respect to the following:

§     Explain the reasoning that informed the structure of the course.

§     Highlight the learning objectives and how they are aligned with assessments and the instructional strategies.

§     Communicate instructor responsibilities with regard to the availability of in-class material, feedback on assignments, provide information about office hours, and how you wish to be contacted by phone, email.

§     Explain students’ responsibilities for example class attendance, absences, submission of assignments, accommodations for special needs.

Students should receive copies of the syllabus online through the learning management system before the first day. It is not productive to read the syllabus in class; highlighting the major parameters of the course should suffice. You may give students a no-points syllabus quiz to ensure that they have good understanding of the most important requirements of the course.

It is a good idea to close the presentation of the requirements of the course with a statement of commitment to student learning and success in the course. Encourage students and communicate to them that you are confident that they will be successful in the course if they expend the required effort (

Lang (2019) affirms that successful implementation of the four principles requires that the following practicable observations must be accomplished in advance before the first day:

§      Go over the class roster and match students’ names with their pictures (if pictures are provided in the in the university’s learning management system). In addition, post a warm welcome message to students, introduce yourself and ask students to introduce themselves to you and to the class.

§     Familiarize yourself with the classroom space and available technology. Observe the space, closely taking note of how the tables and chairs are arranged.

§     Visualize how the space matches the kinds of learning activities that will take place in your course and plan to make adjustments as needed.

§     Test the technology in the classroom and make sure that technological issues are resolved before, not on the first day of class.

The preceding information may seem like a lot to take in and accomplish before or on the first day. However, it is pertinent to reiterate that the first day sets the tone for the rest of the semester. Taking time upfront to stimulate students’ curiosity, foster a sense of community, establish learning, address the expectations of the class and get familiar with the classroom space and technology should yield successful learning experiences dividends in the long run.


Baker, M.  (n.d.). Using background knowledge probes. Retrieved from

Center for Teaching (n.d.). First day of class. Retrieved from

Eberly Center Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation. (n.d.). Make the most of the first day. Retrieved from

Lang, J. M. (2019). How to teach a good first day class. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Retrieved from

Saucier, D. (2019). Bringing peace to the classroom. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from

Funmi Amobi is an instructional consultant and College Liaison in Oregon State University’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Funmi provides consultations to faculty in individual and small group settings to support teaching excellence and student success. Funmi holds a doctorate degree in secondary education with major emphasis in curriculum and instruction from Arizona State University.  As a reflective practitioner, she is a life-long student of the scholarship of teaching and learning.

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Join us in creating a culture of teaching excellence- OSU’s CTL

Dear OSU Campus Community,

Greetings from your Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL).   Housed on the top floor of LInC, our goal is to create and sustain a culture of teaching excellence, and position OSU at the forefront of educational innovation.  Informed by evidence-based instructional practices and designed to address key faculty, instructor, and GTA needs, we have three major categories of offerings for you.

Individualized Learning Pathways (ILPs)

CTL partners with departments and units across campus to provide professional development opportunities around teaching. Build your own ILPin five key areas: 1) Course Design; 2) Creating & Sustaining Inclusive Learning Environments; 3) Teaching with Technology; 4) Social, Emotional, and Brain Based Learning; and 5) Teacher Evaluation, Promotion & Tenure.


The CTL offers the opportunity to earn a Certificate in University Teaching. New2OSU is focused on impacting student success by accelerating the effectiveness of newer teachers. We also provide teaching renewal for veteran teachers. Completion of the program may be used as evidence of professional development and teaching effectiveness for performance review (subject to supervisor approval).  The CTL can only accept 20 applicants on a first-come, first-serve basis. Our fall cohort launches on Monday, September 30 with the start of Week One.

REGISTER NOW! Find details, hear from New2OSU graduates, and register here.

Tuesday Teaching + Tech Talks (T4)

T4 formerly Tuesday Teaching Talks, is a certificated series of teaching workshops that support a wide range of pedagogical priorities. The new “T”? Learn about tech tools that can be used to implement the pedagogical ideas shared!  T4workshops are held every Tuesday from 10-11:50 or 2-3:50 – join either session!

Participate face-to-face in Milam 215 or online via Zoom (Visit Box for more information about online participation). There is no registration necessary, attend one, some, or all! You can access our T4 schedule here.

We are excited to support you!

Regan A. R. Gurung, Ph. D.  | Interim Executive Director     

Brooke Howland, Ed. D.  | Associate Director


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See You at the Faculty Success Symposium on Sep. 19 and 20

This popular annual event is a great opportunity for faculty, staff and graduate students to come together and learn about  academic technology, services and tools to support teaching and learning, and upcoming faculty development programming. Presenters on Friday include CTL’s Brooke Howland, Funmi Amobi, Lexi Schlosser and Cub Kahn.

Check out the full program. It’s free to attend, register now!

  • Thursday Canvas Workshops on September 19th are in the Cascade Hall computer lab, room 118, or bring your own laptop, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm or 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
  • Friday Sessions on September 20th are on the third floor of the Learning Innovation Center (LINC) from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm.
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Strong Teaching Skills Can Be built from Graduate School Onwards

Whereas most college and university faculty and staff teach together with doing research, not many Ph.D. training programs nationwide provide teacher training in graduate school. This week, Oregon State graduate students got a chance to learn about all the Center for Teaching and Learning has to offer at Graduate Orientation.

In addition, new initiatives to support graduate students have rolled out as well. The Oregon State University Libraries and Press and the Graduate School just announced a new space for graduate students on the sixth floor of the Valley Library starting fall term 2019: The Graduate Student Commons.

The Grad Commons supports student success by providing independent, collaborative and facilitated learning experiences. These experiences will help students with timely degree completion, prepare them with the collaborative skills needed for the contemporary workplace, and enhance their contributions to Oregon State’s scholarly enterprise.

As graduate students have unique educational journeys at Oregon State, creating a space on campus dedicated to all graduate students demonstrates their importance to the institution’s culture and mission.

The Grad Commons features a variety of spaces and services to support graduate student needs. At the Grad Commons students can:

  • Study and relax in the comfortable and light-filled Reading Room.
  • Reserve a small group room for group study and research.
  • Reserve the technology-enhanced 6420 classroom for teaching practice, an oral exam, or committee meetings.
  • Attend workshops in the 6420 classroom.
  • Work in the open study space and utilize computer workstations with statistical software.
  • Meet with representatives from the IRB Office, Graduate Writing Center, and the Department of Statistics.
  • Reserve long-term research rooms for the length of an academic term. Available to all graduate students in the writing or research phase of their degree.
  • Checkout a laptop for up to 10-weeks for off-site research projects.
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