Our News & Announcements page is your one-stop shop for all the recent resources, events and news from CTL! This page will be updated periodically with contributions from CTL staff, Graduate Teaching Consultants, and Faculty. We invite your feedback and suggestions for topics – please reach out to us at ctl@bu.edu.

UDL Learning Community: Applications Open

CTL and Digital Learning & Innovation (DL&I) invite faculty to join a year-long Learning Community on Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Learning Community participants will meet for six 90-minute discussion and practice-based sessions in the spring and fall semesters of 2023. The meetings will be led by Luis Perez, a consultant for CAST.  

Find our more about the UDL Learning Community on CTL's Programs page and apply with this form. We look forward to receiving your application by on January 31, 2023!

Spring Workshops on Writing and Feedback

Christina Michaud and Marisa Milanese, Master Lecturers from the CAS Writing Program, will co-facilitate two workshops in early spring.

Workshop 1: Putting Grammar Back In: Linguistically-Responsive Writing Instruction

For faculty who teach writing, rhetoric, or writing-intensive courses, “what to do” about grammar has long been a concern. Join us for an interactive workshop as we reflect more on how we use grammar in the classroom and in our feedback practices, learn some tips for addressing grammar from the framework of critical language awareness, and discuss student perspectives on grammar from the point of view of first-generation and/or low-income students.

Tuesday 1/31/23, 4-5 on Zoom. Please register at this link.

Workshop 2: Making Feedback More Transparent: Reframing Peer, Instructor, and Tutor Feedback

For faculty who teach writing, rhetoric, or writing-intensive courses, offering feedback on student writing is one of the wise practices we constantly employ. Join us for an interactive workshop as we reflect more on how we use feedback in the classroom, learn some tips for reframing feedback as “feed forward,” and discuss strategies for empowering students to interact with feedback. We will also consider student perspectives on feedback, especially from the point of view of first-generation and/or low-income students.

Tuesday 2/14/23, 4-5 on Zoom. Please register at this link.

Fostering Intrinsic Motivation In Introductory Classes

Contributed by Federica Bocchi, Ph.D Candidate in Philosophy of Science

(5-minute read)

Fostering students’ motivation to learn is complicated in intro classes, where the demographic is usually highly heterogeneous. If you struggle to figure out how to motivate your students, this post is for you! 

Let us start from the basics. Pedagogical literature distinguishes two types of motivation: intrinsic and instrumental. Instrumental motivation refers to the extrinsic reasons a student might have to do well and stay engaged in any classroom: rewards, grades, or the perspective of completing HUB credits. Although extrinsic motivation is a powerful tool that a learner can rely on, educators believe that this is rarely enough for the long-term retention of information or methodological skills (Goldman et al. 2016). Accordingly, as instructors, we should rely on more than this form of motivation in our classes. Intrinsic (or inner) motivation is the reason that drives students, such as passion and curiosity. To be an excellent teacher, we should be able to foster our students’ intrinsic motivation and have them appreciate the subject we teach even if it doesn’t have evident extrinsic rewards
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Using Self-Explanation in an Introductory Biology Lab

Students working in a laboratory are looking at samples under a microscope and writing in a notebook

Contributed by Maria Valadez Ingersoll, Ph.D student at BU URBAN Program

(4 minute read)

In a previous post, we introduced the idea of self-explanation as a skill to promote learning fundamental principles behind a task to deepen contextualized understanding and strengthen knowledge transfer to new scenarios. To refresh, while a student is learning something new, they may break the concept into steps and practice self-explanation by answering questions such as: What is my goal for this step? What are the principles that I have learned that apply to this step? Are there any exceptions that can be made in this scenario? How exactly am I going to move to the next step? In today’s post, we are going to discuss how to implement self-explanation in a biology laboratory to enable students to apply theories they have learned in lecture to the living biological world.

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Self Explanation Exercise in Philosophy


Student scrolling a paper on their Ipad.


Contributed by Federica Bocchi, Ph.D Candidate in Philosophy of Science

(4-minute read)

Thank you, Maria, for introducing the notion and the practice of self-explanation as a useful pedagogical technique that can help our students. In the post, you write: “Self-explanation should promote the student to put into words why they are moving from point A to point B instead of just doing it, which will allow the student to contextualize the processes behind the learning and apply those processes to other scenarios.” I'd like to follow up on your key point by discussing how to use self-explanation in my discipline: philosophy.

Instructors often assume that students will develop strategies to retain information and independently transfer their skills from one subject to the other. Nonetheless, instructors might find it beneficial to explicitly address how this skill is developed by introducing a self-explanation activity.

I implemented a self-explanation exercise in my philosophy classes during the 2022 Summer term. For this idea, I am indebted to Prof. Lydia Patton, who uses a similar exercise on the first day of her philosophy of physics classes.

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Introduction to Self-Explanation

A student is working on several math problems on a chalkboard

Contributed by Maria Valadez Ingersoll, Ph.D student at BU URBAN Program

(3 minute read)

Have you ever noticed a student who seems to master a formula in one example but struggles to apply that same formula to a different situation? A subtle skill that many students struggle to master is transferring what they learn in class or on practice problems to new scenarios. This limitation in knowledge transfer becomes evident when students are tasked to apply what they’ve learned to other examples or more complex and in-depth tasks that appear on exams or in subsequent units. As a student, I fell into this pitfall many times in introductory chemistry and mathematics courses. I memorized the steps to solve an example problem correctly through rote repetition believing that it would equip me to solve new problems that followed the same patterns or rules. Yet each time I came across a version of the pattern in a new scenario in an exam or in the following chapter, I got confused and faltered. My mistake, and what many students experience, was not understanding the why of the problem, just the how.

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Recap: Graduate Student Workshop on Metacognition

Two female graduate students are sitting side by side looking at each other while working on a computer.


How do we, as instructors, help students to use reflection to deepen their own learning and connect with other students? Last week, Christina Michaud, Master Lecturer and Associate Director of ELL Writing in the CAS Writing Program, and Melanie Smith, Senior Lecturer in the CAS Writing Program, led a workshop for graduate students on “Using Metacognition in the Classroom to Increase Student Community and Learning,” in which they explained how simple metacognitive exercises can benefit both students and instructors without generating more grading.  Read More

Welcoming Designing Antiracist Curricula Fellows

Various meaningful objects shared by the group
The Community Altar created by DAC participants at the first meeting.

We recently welcomed the first cohort of the Designing Antiracist Curricula (DAC) Fellows and are delighted to work with the thirteen Fellows who come from across BU’s schools, colleges, and campuses (learn more about the Fellows here). The group will gather together each month to learn about antiracist teaching approaches and develop courses. Collectively, we will be discussing how to share their knowledge and projects with the BU community in the spring—we’ll keep you posted!

At the meeting, Professor Ibram Kendi offered words of welcome to the Fellows as important contributors to BU’s continuing commitment to strengthening antiracist frameworks for teaching and learning. Read More

Graduate Student Workshop: Using Metacognition in the Classroom to Increase Student Community and Learning


This graduate student workshop will be led by Christina Michaud, Master Lecturer and Associate Director of ELL Writing in the CAS Writing Program, and Melanie Smith, Senior Lecturer in the CAS Writing Program.

Short, ungraded creative reflective writings and other metacognitive exercises benefit both students and instructors without adding to the burden of grading: we learn more about students’ anxieties, help form teams or study groups based on commonalities, and hear directly from students about the kinds of support that would be useful. In this one-hour workshop, participants will explore strategies for prompting students to reflect on their learning, address their fears of failure as students and writers, and assess themselves and their peers.

Register for the workshop.

Embodied Learning: Teaching and Learning with Reacting to the Past

Students role-playing in class
Students role-playing as members of the National Assembly in Paris, 1792, in Prof. Chris Walsh's first-year writing seminar, "Living in Revolutionary Times." (Images from 2017, used with permission.)

Contributed by Maria Gapotchenko, Master Lecturer, CAS Writing Program and Writing Coordinator for the Core Curriculum

(3 minute read)

How would you like to be three different persons, from three different eras and places, over the course of three days? This was my experience – intense and exhilarating – as I attended the Reacting to the Past Consortium’s annual Game Development Conference just over a month ago.

On day one, I played Dorothy Kitt, a California Heritage Council member committed to preserving San Francisco’s controversial Pioneer Monument in its original location during the heated discussions of 1991. The next day, I was Jean Berthelet, a young French worker-priest providing clandestine support to the Algerian National Liberation Front as the war for Algeria’s independence was coming to a close. And on day three, my new alter-ego Mr. Archibald Prentice of Scotland, editor of the Manchester Times, was busy soliciting articles from J.S. Mill and Harriet Martineau while the British Parliament debated the repeal of the Corn Laws in the year 1845.

Reacting to the Past, a pedagogy used on dozens if not hundreds of campuses around the country, invites students to take charge of history via immersive role-playing games. How? By embodying particular historical individuals’ intellectual and policy agendas and striving to carry them out through speech-making, backroom negotiations, and other means (which vary depending on the game).
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