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Reflective and Effective Teaching (RET)

Reflective & Effective Teaching (RET) offers a unique cohort-based learning community for graduate students and postdocs from any discipline who aspire to improve student learning.

RET teacher-scholars, can choose from our traditional three-quarter sequence of seminars and special-topics workshops or engage on a quarterly basis, selecting seminars and artifacts that align with their stage of teaching, availability, and goals.


Locations vary and are held both online and on the Evanston campus.

Size & Format
In-person: 31+ participants, Online & Synchronous

Dates & Times
Events for this three-quarter-long program occur throughout the academic year. Participants who enroll for the 23–24 school year will participate in:

  • Fall 2023 Quarter
  • Winter 2024 Quarter
  • Spring 2024 Quarter

Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Trainees


Our revamped and reimagined Teaching Certificate Program (TCP), Reflective & Effective Teaching offers a unique cohort-based learning community for graduate students and postdocs from any discipline who aspire to improve student learning. RET teacher-scholars can choose from our traditional three-quarter sequence of seminars and special-topics workshops or engage on a quarterly basis, selecting seminars and the development of artifacts that align with their stage of teaching, availability, and goals. In either approach to participation, teacher-scholars are supported by both peer and faculty mentoring. Graduate student participants in the program can opt to receive a zero-credit course notation on their transcript upon completion of the quarterly requirements for each quarter they enroll through TGS.

In the first quarter of the program, teacher-scholars will reflect on different pedagogical frameworks and what it means to create an inclusive, learner-centered course design and learning environment. In the following quarter, they will examine the components of an effective course design and teaching plan. Teacher-scholars will also discuss the everyday practices employed in their classrooms by exploring the learning process and how to facilitate it using various methods of teaching. Finally, they will focus on developing meaningful and manageable assessments to gauge student learning and motivate students' engagement with course material.

Throughout the program, teacher-scholars will read and discuss literature on learning and teaching, meet in small disciplinarily aligned project groups led by a Reflective Teaching Guide, meet with their chosen faculty mentor, attend workshops focused on specific aspects of learning and teaching, and participate in seminars to guide the development of their authentic artifacts (e.g., teaching statement). By the end of each quarter, participants will have developed and received feedback on their artifacts associated with the quarterly themes, which models the practice of “authentic assessment” developed by educational reformer Grant Wiggins. These implementable artifacts will demonstrate emerging understanding of approaches to learning and teaching. Participants will have the opportunity to develop an e-portfolio that showcases their approaches and philosophies regarding learning and teaching.

Graduate students or postdoctoral fellows from any program may apply.  Participants will derive the most benefits when they eengage in a substantive teaching experience at some point during or soon after the program OR have a potential teaching context (e.g., course you might teach someday) they could focus on during Reflective & Effective Teaching.


RET will launch fall 2024. Participants will receive confirmation of their enrollment in early summer.

The Reflective & Effective Teaching online registration includes:

  • A description of how participation in the program will contribute to their professional development.
  • A description of what they hope to learn as a result of participating in the program.
  • Identification of a faculty mentor (if known at this time). 

Registration is now open! Please register by Monday, May 20th. 

Register by clicking on this link.


As a result of participating in program seminars, workshops, and small group meetings, teacher-scholars will be able to:

  • Articulate their pedagogical choices (e.g., teaching methods, assessment approaches, grading schemes) by drawing upon evidence from literature on learning and teaching
  • Synthesize feedback from peers, their Reflective Teaching Guide, and their faculty mentor to enhance your pedagogical approach and/or course design
  • Explicitly integrate equitable and inclusive approaches that reflect a desire to promote learning for all students
  • Critically reflect upon their experiences, others’ perspectives, and scholarship to promote their ongoing development as an effective and inclusive educator
  • Build community among colleagues in service of improving student learning

Participant Expectations

You should expect to devote 25 hours (on the low end) and 40 hours (on the high end) to Reflective & Effective Teaching activities. These time commitments are based on how deeply you want to delve into the content and serve as suggestions.

  • Orientation (1.5 hours)
  • Pre-Seminar Readings (4 hours)
  • Interactive Seminars (4 hours)
  • Project Group Meetings (4 hours)
  • ‘Authentic’ Artifact Development (4 hours)
  • Faculty Mentor Meeting (1 hour)
  • Quarterly Reflections and Program Survey (1 hour)
  • Searle Teaching & Learning Workshop or Searle Event (1.5 hours)

Those completing ePortfolios will devote additional time to developing and curating. 

Seminars & Authentic Artifacts Quarterly Schedule

Seminars & Authentic Artifacts by Quarter


Focus of the Interactive Seminars

Authentic Artifacts


Inclusive Learning & Pedagogical Foundations

Seminar A: Developing inclusive teaching practices

Seminar B: Considering how we learn and how we teach

Inclusive Course Design Strategies List

Diversity and Inclusion Syllabus Statement

Preliminary Narrative on Teaching Philosophy



Course Design & Assessment

Seminar A: Understandingcourse design and planningteaching

Seminar B: Planning for Assignments and Assessments

Course Objectives &Course Description

Assessment Plan & Sample Assessment



Facilitating Learning & the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

Seminar A: Facilitating Learning

Seminar B: Becoming a SoTL Practitioner

Lesson Plan

Research Question & Annotated Bibliography



Faculty Mentors

Mentoring is an important aspect of Reflective & Effective Teaching. Participants are required to work with a faculty mentor throughout the quarter to discuss issues related to learning and teaching in their disciplines.

About Faculty Mentors

Participants are responsible for choosing their faculty mentors, arranging meetings, and setting agendas. The specifics of this relationship are to be negotiated individually.

A faculty mentor is:

  • Usually not the participant's research advisor, to provide a different perspective.
  • Usually from the same discipline as the mentee, but they can be from any department.
  • At any stage of their career as long as they have a demonstrated interest in learning and teaching.

Mentors can be faculty from Northwestern University, a partner school such as Lake Forest College, Oakton Community College, Northeastern Illinois University, or another local institution, with approval from Searle Center staff.

Faculty Mentor Requirements

  1. Meet with the mentee at least once a quarter to discuss issues of learning and teaching.
  2. Provide feedback on the mentee's authentic artifact.
  3. Invite the mentee to observe your teaching (if applicable).
  4. Conduct a teaching observation of the mentee.
  5. If requested, provide a letter for the mentee's teaching portfolio.

Contact Us

Erika Nadile, Assistant Director of Interdisciplinary Connections