News & Announcements

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’s Graduate Assistants and Associates

January 19th, 2022

blue background with five small circles. Each circle contains a picture of one of our new CTL graduate assistants and associates.


This semester, five wonderful graduate students are helping the CTL to provide support to the graduate student teaching community at BU. Graduate Assistants Federica Bocchi (Philosophy), Maya Chakravorty (Classical Studies), and Maria Valadez Ingersoll (Cellular and Molecular Biology) joined us this month, and Graduate Associates Phillippa Pitts (History of Art and Architecture) and Sarah Sklar (Political Science) are building on their prior work with us. Together, they will offer Learning Analysis Polls to graduate students serving as instructors of record, share evidence-based strategies about teaching through the CTL's website, and help us to connect with the graduate student community.  Please keep an eye on the Graduate Student Blog for news and announcements from this group.  Welcome and thank you, Federica, Maya, Maria, Phillippa, and Sarah!

Making Time for Connection at the End of the Semester

December 1st, 2021

two students standing six feet apart bumping elbows to say hello. Both wearing face masks as they leave their classroom.

Contributed by Jean Otsuki.

As we near the end of the semester, we encourage you to make time to check in with your students about how they are doing and create space for them to connect with their peers.  Fostering classroom community is meaningful at any time, but can be especially valuable during stressful periods. At this point in the semester, your students will likely be preparing for final assessments in all of their courses and steeped in any extracurricular commitments. Moreover, as Sarah Ketchen Lipson, Assistant Professor at SPH, demonstrated through a survey of almost 33,000 college students across the country through the Healthy Minds Network in 2020, the uncertainties of the current moment has exacerbated the mental health crisis among college students.  Despite being back on campus, many students still feel lonely, as the pandemic continues to pose challenges to community building.  Acknowledging that students are whole people with complex lives in and beyond the classroom, and recognizing that these circumstances impact their ability to engage in your course, are important steps to supporting students. Read More

Including Diverse Role Models in STEM Curricula

November 18th, 2021

three students working in a STEM lab to complete an experiment. Two students in the front are holding test tubes and one student in the back is recording data.

Including Diverse Role Models in STEM Curricula

Contributed by Bryanne McDonough

In most areas of the STEM workforce, racial minorities, people with disabilities, and women are still underrepresented [1,2]. As college educators, we have a critical role to play in retaining and encouraging underrepresented students in STEM. One way to accomplish this is by creating a sense of belonging through adding diverse voices to our curricula and classroom. It is not always immediately obvious where to add diversity in a STEM course, as we most often teach about facts and data rather than people. However, instructors can make a difference by highlighting the contributions of individuals to the facts and data, and help ameliorate identity threats along the way. Read More

Mid Semester Feedback

October 8th, 2021

two students in masks standing to the left of their professor. Their professor, also in a mask, is holding a paper reviewing school material with students.

Contributed by Jean Otsuki

The middle of the semester is a valuable time to check in with students - to solicit their feedback about how the course is going, and to reset and refocus for the remainder of the term. 

Why collect feedback?

While instructors typically receive feedback about their teaching in the form of course evaluations at the end of the semester, this feedback comes too late for instructors to address students’ concerns and to implement any changes during that particular academic term. Asking students for feedback about how the course is going at mid-semester allows you to open up a conversation with your students about their learning experience and potentially to make adjustments to instruction while the course is in session.   Read More

Clarity of Assignment Prompts: Considering Multimodality

September 23rd, 2021

stack of papers with paper clips

Contributed by Pary Fassihi 

(1 minute read)

A clear assignment prompt will give students all the information they need to complete the assignment. Not only does this set the students up for success, but it also saves time and reduces any confusion they may experience. There are some common reasons students may find themselves confused when reviewing assignment sheets. For example, the assignment sheet may be too lengthy, give students too many directions and options, lack clear directives for students or simply lack guidelines. Check out our list of Key Components of Assignment Prompts for some of the key information that would typically be included in an assignment sheet.  Read More

Graduate students: come learn and connect with other graduate students and CTL staff this fall!

September 17th, 2021

Two graduate students collaborating with their teacher in a STEM lab.

Graduate students: welcome back!  Come learn and connect with other grad students and CTL staff this fall.  Here are some of the ways you can get involved: attend a workshop on Lesson Planning; join a Learning Community, co-facilitated by PDPA, on inclusive teaching in STEM courses; and work with us through the Graduate Assistant program.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

Announcing a new CTL Guide: Teaching in a Mask (at BU & beyond)

September 15th, 2021

BU’s face covering policy, which requires masks “to be worn indoors in classrooms, offices, public common areas, the BU Shuttle, and healthcare facilities,” is designed to protect the BU community. Teaching in a mask, however, presents a unique set of challenges.

This Guide presents tips to help instructors meet these challenges by protecting their voices, engaging students, and choosing the right gear. The Guide also includes an overview of the specific circumstances in which BU’s policy allows instructors and students to remove their masks.

A New Conference: Antiracist Teaching, Language and Assessment

September 10th, 2021

CTL would like to help spread the word about a new conference, Antiracist Teaching, Language and Assessment, which kicks off 9/17, and includes sessions on 9/24 and 10/1. The conference is hosted by Oregon State University.  

Sessions are free and on Zoom. 

Keynote speakers include Alexandria Lockett, Vershawn Ashanti Young, Victor Villanueva, Ana Milena Ribero, and Asao Inoue, with roundtable discussion moderated by Jesse Stommel and Akua Duku Anokye. Each session includes keynotes, optional off-Zoom activities, and Q&A with the speakers. Register by 9/16.

Safety, Curiosity, and the Joy of Learning

September 2nd, 2021

Sideway image of masked students on the right of the banner sitting next to one another typing on laptops. Title of the post on the left side.

A recent webinar, “What Students Need This Academic Year,” hosted by The Chronicle of Higher Education, reminded us that “normal” is a relative and transitory feeling and space.  Malik Singleton, a student speaker from Harris-Stowe State University, noted that he wants to “take charge of my own normal.” With that advice in mind, we wish all BU instructors and students a wonderful first week in class. Safety, curiosity, and the joy of learning – all good things to nurture in our return to in-person classes!

For strategies and ideas to connect with your students in these first few classes, please see two CTL quick guides: Student Engagement Part 1: Focusing on the Emotional Aspects of Learning and Student Engagement Part 2: Ensuring Deep Learning.  Engagement is complemented by compassion in the classroom, a key teaching tool this semester. Malik Singleton had something to say about that, too: “We [students] don’t need tough love; we just need love.” For a BU-specific version of Malik’s advice, please see SPH Clinical Assistant Professor Sophie Godley’s Lightning Talk from 2020: “Engage, Challenge, Love.” Perfect advice for the start of semester, in any modality of teaching!

“Just-in-time” Resources to Prep for Fall 2021: Part 3—First Days of Class, Trauma-informed Teaching

August 31st, 2021

In this final pre-semester post, we turn to the nitty-gritty, rubber-meets-road tasks to be done before classes begin. What exactly will you do in class on the first day, the second day, and the third? How can those activities set you up for a productive and enjoyable semester?

To help think through these questions, we present a final checklist for day one and a post on building community over the course of your first week

As you consider these initial tasks, we also invite you to think intentionally about the question of emotional well-being, for yourself and your students. How can you support yourself and your students as covid continues to affect our lives? The CTL guide to Trauma-informed Teaching is a place to start (or continue!).