What is CIRTL?

Published: Tues., March 5, 2019

CIRTL logo
CIRTL logo by the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning

Graduate students who are interested in working as faculty are aware that it is important to gain teaching experience as part of your graduate training. However, it is also important to demonstrate that you have knowledge of instructional pedagogies, not just experience with teaching. One opportunity available at UNL is participation in CIRTL, which stands for the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning. CIRTL is a network of about 40 universities, which have joined together to support and improve undergraduate learning by improving the training graduate students, especially in STEM fields, receive on teaching. The benefit of this is that programming is not only available on UNL’s campus, but also online offered by member institutions. Also, since this a nationally recognized program, you can be assured that faculty and staff at other schools will likely be familiar with the program and the meaning of CIRTL certification. While CIRTL initially started with a focus on STEM education, UNL does not limit participation to STEM students and encourages all to participate.

CIRTL programming is focuses around three core ideas: 1) learning through diversity, 2) teaching-as-research, and 3) learning communities. Learning through diversity emphasizes how diversity of experience and ideas influence learning. Teaching-as-research uses research and research methods to support effective teaching. Learning Communities focuses on bringing together people to discuss teaching and learning and grow together.

How do you get CIRTL Certification?

There are three levels of certification you can earn: Associate, Practitioner, and Scholar. Associate is the introductory level and participation at this level is generally focuses on participating in workshops, seminars, and classes to learn about existing knowledge in teaching and learning issues, in a discipline or more broadly. You will also submit a teaching philosophy and be observed or observe teaching. Practitioner status involves continuing to take teaching and learning workshops and training as well as completing a Teaching-as-Research project. Scholar status requires you to disseminate knowledge through presenting or publishing your Teaching-as-Research work.

Associate Level

This level requires:

  • Completing one course in teaching
  • Completing four workshops and a reflective memo connecting these to the CIRTL core ideas
  • Submitting a Teaching Philosophy
  • Participating in the Teaching Development Program or observing two undergraduate classes and writing a reflective memo

Practitioner Level

This level requires:

  • Achieving CIRTL Associate Level
  • Completing three additional workshops or a CIRTL Practitioner MOOC
  • Completing a Teaching-as-Research Project which is presented at a local forum
  • Submitting a revised Teaching Philosophy

Scholar Level

This level requires:

  • Achieving CIRTL Practitioner Level
  • Publishing or presenting work nationally or creating and presenting a substantial teaching workshop on campus

Email UNL's CIRTL program to learn more about these requirements.

What opportunities are available?

Each semester, the Office of Graduate Studies offers a number of workshops focused on teaching. There are also courses and workshops on teaching offered by other groups on campus that may count towards CIRTL Associate Status. This semester, we have had workshops in Active Learning and Creating Effective Class Discussions and will be hosting a workshop on Teaching with Technology. We have also hosted on-campus learning communities on Mentoring for Diversity and on STEM Teaching. There are also online courses, MOOCs, workshops, reading groups, and more available through the CIRTL network.

How do you get started?

Sign up on cirtl.net to view what is available through the CIRTL network. All of these offerings are free to you since UNL is a member of CIRTL. Attend CIRTL programming on campus--our workshops will be listed on this page and workshops that can be applied toward CIRTL certification will be noted in the event description. Write your teaching philosophy. Track your progress on our website. Contact our office if you have questions.