Apprenticeship in College 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.

Course Design (Required)

Wednesday, February 10, 2021, 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 interactive 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. This seminar will cover some of the material previously included in the “Syllabus Design” session.  Kim Humphrey will facilitate this session. Enrollment is limited; please register as soon as possible, but no later than February 3rd.

Register for the ACT Seminar: Course Design (Required)

Assignment Design (Required)

Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Remote Session via Zoom

Stacy Grooters, Executive Director

Working from a very broad definition of “assignment,” this interactive 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 February 9th.

Register for the ACT Seminar: Assignment Design (Required)

Planning for Better Discussions (Elective)

Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Remote Session via Zoom

Kim Humphrey, Instructional Designer

Whether you’re faced with a sea of silent students or trying to get a runaway conversation back on topic, leading class discussion can be one of the most challenging – and enjoyable – parts of your work as an instructor. In this interactive session, we’ll talk about strategies to help you and your students prepare for learning-rich discussions. Kim Humphrey will facilitate this session. Enrollment is limited; please register as soon as possible, but no later than February 26th.

Register for the ACT Seminar: Planning for Better Discussions (Elective)

Active Learning (Required)

Monday, March 1, 2021, 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 interactive 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 February 22nd.

Register for the ACT Seminar: Active Learning (Required)

Grading for Learning (Required)

Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 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 interactive 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 March 10th.

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

Facilitating Difficult Dialogues (Elective)

Tuesday, March 23, 2021, 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Remote Session via Zoom

Kim Humphrey, Instructional Designer & Stacy Grooters, Executive Director

The term “difficult dialogues” has come to be used to describe a range of charged interactions in the classroom, often focused on questions of diversity and social justice. Whether resulting from students’ reactions to course materials or to each other, these heated moments can leave teachers scrambling to regain control of the discussion. In this interactive workshop, participants will discuss the factors that can lead to difficult dialogues and learn strategies both to prepare for and facilitate them. Kim Humphrey and Stacy Grooters will facilitate this session. Enrollment is limited; please register as soon as possible, but no later than March 16th.

Register for the ACT Seminar: Facilitating Difficult Dialogues (Elective)

Creating Effective Learning Environments (Required)

Monday, March 29, 2021, 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Remote Session via Zoom

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

This interactive seminar provides a practical discussion of how to foster a positive classroom climate that promotes student learning. Participants will discuss strategies for mitigating belonging uncertainty and stereotype threat in their classrooms through reflecting on their own and their 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 March 22nd.

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

Responding to Student Writing (Elective)

Tuesday, April 6, 2021, 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Remote Session via Zoom

Francesca Minonne, Assistant Director for Graduate Student Programs & Megan Lease, Graduate Programs Coordinator

When responding to student writing, it can be difficult to provide comprehensive feedback on an essay without overwhelming or discouraging your students. In this session, we will ask you to identify some writing norms in your discipline. We will also examine a number of approaches to providing targeted feedback and review strategies to help students respond effectively to their own and their classmates’ writing. Francesca Minonne and Megan Lease will facilitate this session. Enrollment is limited; please register as soon as possible, but no later than March 30th.

Register for the ACT Seminar: Responding to Student Writing (Elective)

Effective Use of Technology (Elective)

Thursday, April 22, 2021, 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Remote Session via Zoom

Kelsey Norwood, Instructional Designer

Although Sherry Turkle and others have warned about the ways that technology can lead to social isolation, educational technologies can be used effectively to build community and enhance student learning. In this interactive session, we'll explore ways to use technology that support students' engagement with course materials and with each other. Kelsey Norwood will facilitate this session. Enrollment is limited; please register as soon as possible, but no later than April 15th.

Register for the ACT Seminar: Effective Use of Technology (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 and participants may enroll at any time.

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, contact the Graduate Programs Coordinator (megan.lease@bc.edu).

Program Registration

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, so participants can sign up at any time:

  • 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 Program Requirements

Successful completion of the program involves:

  • attending seven ACT seminars (five required seminars and two electives);
  • participating in two classroom observations (as observer and observed);
  • compiling a teaching portfolio that includes a teaching philosophy, sample syllabus, and other relevant teaching materials; and
  • submitting a short essay that critically reflects on what you’ve learned in the program.

More information about each of these requirements is available below.

Program Completion

Once you have completed all requirements of the program (including the submission of a portfolio that meets program expectations), the Assistant Director for Graduate Student Programs (francesca.minonne@bc.edu) 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. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we do not yet know if we will be able to have a ceremony in Spring 2021. However, students who wish to receive their Certificates at the end of the academic year should plan to complete program requirements and submit their materials by 3/1/21.

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 centerforteaching@bc.edu.

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