Preparing for a career in teaching

The Apprenticeship in College Teaching Program is a free, non-credit-bearing program that prepares graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for teaching careers in higher education.

ACT seminars bring participants together across disciplines to engage important pedagogical questions. Classroom observations allow for discipline-specific discussion with faculty mentors in participants' departments. And the final Teaching Portfolio and reflective essay encourage participants to synthesize what they’re learning.  

The program can be completed at the participant’s own pace, and successful completion of the program results in a robust teaching portfolio and certificate issued by the Office of the Provost.

Active Learning (Required)

Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Remote Session via Zoom

Sarah Castricum, Assistant Director for Faculty Programs

Hands-on activities such as problem solving and teamwork hold a lot of promise to transform learning, but they can also seem challenging to develop and evaluate. This session will explore ways to structure activities that will meet your learning goals for your students and offer them the support they need to succeed. We will consider how to use active learning in any discipline, class setting and time frame. Sarah Castricum will facilitate this session. Enrollment is limited; please register as soon as possible, but no later than September 16th.

Register for the ACT Seminar: Active Learning (Required)

Course Design (Required)

Tuesday, October 6, 2020, 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Remote Session via Zoom

Kim Humphrey, Instructional Designer

At the heart of every successful classroom is a well-designed course. In this seminar, we will consider the basics of a “backwards design” approach to course development that seeks to align course goals, assessments, and instruction. We’ll also talk about how course structure can impact student learning and classroom climate. Kim Humphrey will facilitate this session. Enrollment is limited; please register as soon as possible, but no later than September 29th.

Register for the ACT Seminar: Course Design (Required)

Assignment Design (Required)

Thursday, October 8, 2020, 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Remote Session via Zoom

Stacy Grooters, Executive Director

Working from a very broad definition of “assignment,” this seminar invites participants to think through the qualities of an effective assignment as well as strategies for structuring assignments that are meaningful and motivating to students. We’ll also consider how learning science research can inform our thinking about assignment design. Stacy Grooters will facilitate this session. Enrollment is limited; please register as soon as possible, but no later than October 1st.

Register for the ACT Seminar: Assignment Design (Required)

Grading For Learning (Required)

Monday, October 19, 2020, 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Remote Session via Zoom

Francesca Minonne, Assistant Director for Graduate Student Programs & Kelsey Norwood, Instructional Designer

Grades can be a significant source of feedback, both evaluating performance and guiding future learning. They can also be a source of doubt and anxiety -- for both students and instructors. In this session, we will consider how learning science and psychology encourage us to think differently about how we approach grading. And we’ll talk about practical strategies -- including the use of rubrics -- for grading more consistently, effectively, and efficiently. This seminar will cover some of the material previously included in the “Grading Fairly” session. Francesca Minonne and Kelsey Norwood will facilitate this session. Enrollment is limited; please register as soon as possible, but no later than October 12th.

Register for the ACT Seminar: Grading for Learning (Required)

Creating Effective Learning Environments (Required)

Tuesday, October 27, 2020, 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Remote Session via Zoom

Francesca Minonne, Assistant Director for Graduate Student Programs & Kim Humphrey, Instructional Designer

This seminar provides a practical discussion of how to foster a positive classroom climate that promotes student learning. ACT participants will discuss strategies for mitigating belonging uncertainty and stereotype threat in your classrooms through reflecting on your own and your students' social locations as well as considering course content. Francesca Minonne and Kim Humphrey will facilitate this session. Enrollment is limited; please register as soon as possible, but no later than October 20th.

Register for the ACT Seminar: Creating Effective Learning Environments (Required)

Teaching Students with Disabilities (Elective)

Wednesday, November 4, 2020, 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Remote Session via Zoom

Stacy Grooters, Executive Director

Recent decades have seen a significant increase in the number of students with disabilities who are pursuing higher education. As a result, faculty find themselves needing to teach to an increasingly diverse range of learners. In this seminar, we’ll discuss simple changes faculty can implement in order to make their courses more accessible to students with disabilities -- and potentially improve the learning environment for all their students. Stacy Grooters will facilitate this session. Enrollment is limited; please register as soon as possible, but no later than October 28th.

Register for the ACT Seminar: Teaching Students with Disabilities (Elective)

Strategies for Effective Lecturing (Elective)

Monday, November 9, 2020, 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Remote Session via Zoom

Francesca Minonne, Assistant Director for Graduate Student Programs

New approaches to teaching now give us many alternatives to the traditional lecture, but having the presentation and planning skills required to present an effective lecture can still be essential in the classroom. This workshop will explore strategies for designing, structuring and presenting an engaging, learner-centered lecture. Francesca Minonne will facilitate this session. Enrollment is limited; please register as soon as possible, but no later than November 2nd.

Register for the ACT Seminar: Strategies for Effective Lecturing (Elective)

Cancelled: Teaching in the U.S. Classroom (Elective)

Thursday, November 19, 2020, 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Remote Session via Zoom

Matthew Goode, Assistant Director for Operations and Program Management & Haerin Park, Lynch School of Education and Human Development

Limited to international students only. International instructors bring valuable knowledge and experience with them to classrooms in the U.S., but they can also face unique challenges. In this session we will discuss some of the potential issues and identify resources that can support international graduate students who serve in teaching roles at Boston College. Matthew Goode and Haerin Park will facilitate this session. Enrollment is limited; please register as soon as possible, but no later than November 12th.

Register for the ACT Seminar: Teaching in the U.S. Classroom (Elective)

The Apprenticeship in College Teaching Program combines opportunities for group inquiry into important pedagogical questions with individual reflection on teaching practices. Successful completion of the program involves attending at least seven ACT seminars, participating in two classroom observations, and compiling a teaching portfolio and reflective essay. Although it is possible to fulfill all ACT requirements in a single year, participants can take as long as they need, while they are students at Boston College, to complete the program. While we prefer for participants to complete the program by the time they graduate, we are willing to extend this deadline to two months past their graduation date. Please note that Full program requirements are below.s may enroll at any time. Individuals interested in participating in the ACT Program should:

Program Changes

The following requirements reflect changes to the ACT Program that went into effect on August 1, 2016. Participants who registered for the program prior to August 2016 are welcome to complete the program according to the requirements that were in place when they first registered. Since the prior set of required workshops will no longer be offered, participants can choose from any of the new required workshops to meet that expectation.

If you have questions about how to meet program requirements in light of the new changes, please feel free to contact the Graduate Programs Coordinator (


Registration for the ACT Program is open to all Boston College graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, whether or not they will have any classroom responsibilities while at BC. Registration is on a rolling basis, and so participant

  • Submit the online ACT registration form by clicking on the “Register” tab above.
  • Attend a required brief orientation with the Graduate Programs Coordinator to discuss their goals for the ACT program and to answer any questions.


ACT Seminars are meant to introduce participants to key pedagogical questions to guide their practice as well as to concrete suggestions that they can take into the classroom. Participants are expected to attend seven seminars (five required and two elective) and may take them in any order.

  • Required seminars: Course Design, Assignment Design, Active Learning, Creating Effective Learning Environments, and Grading for Learning
  • Elective seminars focus on topics such as Leading Better Class Discussions, Strategies for Effective Lecturing, Teaching Students with Disabilities, and Responding to Student Writing.

Each of the required seminars are offered at least once per semester in the fall, spring, and summer. Elective seminars are each offered approximately once a year. Some of the ACT seminars will be 'flipped', with a limited amount of preparation asked of participants prior to the session. You can track your completion of ACT seminars on the ACT Canvas site. Any suggestions for elective seminar topics can be shared with us at

Please note: due to the limited amount of time we have to conduct each ACT seminar, we ask that attendees plan to arrive early in order to ensure a prompt seminar start-time. We will not award ACT credit to attendees who miss more than ten minutes of a seminar.

Seminar Requirement Exceptions

Participants who can show that they have completed an equivalent to one of the required seminars during their time at BC may request to substitute an additional elective in place of that required seminar. For example, a participant who has attended an Assignment Design workshop in their department may request to take a third elective seminar rather than the ACT’s Assignment Design seminar.

Participants may request no more than two such substitutions. All participants must complete a total of seven ACT seminars.

Classroom Observations

Classroom observations serve to provide participants opportunities for formative reflection on their development as instructors. Participants are expected to provide written reflections on two observations (one as observer and one as observed):

  • As observer: Conduct and write a reflection about your observation of a faculty member’s class (your reflection should make connections between what you observed and your own classroom practices).
  • As observed: Invite a faculty member to conduct and write up a brief observation of your teaching (the faculty member’s write-up does not need to be formal; it only needs to summarize the key points of your post-observation discussion).

Participants teaching in departments that already require TAs/TFs to be observed by a faculty mentor are welcome to have that faculty member submit a write-up about their observation experience. Participants who do not have classroom responsibilities are encouraged to work with mentors in their department to arrange for a suitable alternative (e.g. giving a guest lecture in a faculty member’s class). If you are having trouble arranging for someone to observe you teach, please contact the Graduate Programs Coordinator ( to discuss your options.

Submit your observations using the forms under the “Submissions” tab above.

Teaching Portfolio & Reflective Essay

The Teaching Portfolio and accompanying Reflective Essay are meant to invite participants to synthesize and critically reflect on what they’ve learned about themselves as teachers during their participation in the ACT program. The portfolio itself can also serve as a starting point for developing teaching materials for the academic job market. All participants have the option of creating an online portfolio.

Reflective Essay Requirements

The Reflective Essay serves as a critical bridge between your work in the ACT and the materials you develop for your portfolio. The essay can be brief (between 750 - 1500 words) and informal in tone. We are looking for the essay to do two things:

  1. highlight two or three key ideas about teaching and learning that you are taking away from the ACT Program (hopefully informed both by the ACT Seminars and your classroom observations), and
  2. describe how those key ideas informed the choices you made in writing your Teaching Philosophy and constructing your Teaching Portfolio.

The Reflective Essay should be submitted as a separate attachment using the same form for submitting the Teaching Portfolio.

Teaching Portfolio Requirements

See the ACT Teaching Portfolio rubric for detailed information about how portfolios will be evaluated. In general, portfolios should include:

  • Table of contents
  • Summary of teaching experience
  • Statement of teaching philosophy (see the ACT Teaching Philosophy rubric for detailed information about how the philosophy will be evaluated)
  • Sample materials to illustrate your teaching philosophy (must include at least one complete syllabus of your own design in addition to other representative teaching materials)
  • Evidence of teaching effectiveness
  • Summary of professional development activities

Submit your Teaching Portfolio and Reflective Essay using the form under the “Submissions” tab above. You can expect to hear from the Assistant Director of Graduate Student Programs ( within two weeks of submitting your portfolio with any requests for revision.

Program Completion

Once you have completed all requirements of the program (including the submission of a portfolio that meets program expectations), the Assistant Director of Graduate Student Programs ( will contact you about scheduling an Exit Interview to conclude your participation in the program.

All recent ACT graduates are also invited to participate in the annual Graduate Student Teaching Recognition Ceremony, where we award that year’s ACT Certificates. The ceremony is typically scheduled in late April or early May.

Observation And Portfolio Forms

ACT participants are expected to provide written reflections on two observations:

ACT participants are also expected to provide a completed Teaching Portfolio and Reflective Essay:

If you have questions regarding any of these forms, please contact

Podio - CRM done right