Building KU's Teaching and Learning Community


Below, you will find information on CTE programs related to course transformation, including our Best Practices Institute (BPI), Department Teaching Grants, Trestle, and C21. We encourage you to consult the Access and Eligibly Information before you begin the application process.

CTE Programs Access & Eligibility Information

The following CTE programs and services are available without charge to all KU faculty and staff members with instructional responsibilities, including part-time faculty/staff and graduate teaching assistants:

  • Workshops and discussion forums (Lunch & Conversation, Teaching Teas, Essential Teaching Practices, etc.): Including the annual KU Summit, presentations by KU faculty members at CTE, and workshops by speakers from outside KU.
  • Resources: CTE publications (Teaching Matters, Reflections From the Classroom) are sent to all Lawrence campus faculty members. Instructional staff and GTAs who have requested to receive copies also receive these publications. Materials in the CTE library are available for check out by all teachers as listed above, as well.
  • Individual teaching conferences: Any teacher as listed above may schedule an individual teaching conference with a CTE staff member. Teaching conferences may include syllabus review, class observation, student work analysis, and student evaluation analysis.
  • Working groups: Any teacher as listed above may participate in a CTE Working Group (Science, Large Class, etc.).
  • Celebration of Teaching: Tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty members may be recognized at this annual event. Instructional staff members and GTAs are not eligible.
Eligibility* for Faculty Seminar and Best Practices Institute is limited to:
  • Tenure-track faculty members
  • Faculty-equivalent academic staff
  • Librarians
  • Lecturers with an ongoing appointment of 50% or more and at least three years of service to KU
  • Full-time unclassified staff with instructional responsibilities
*NOTE: Priority will be given to applications from (a) tenure-track faculty and (b) faculty equivalent academic staff and librarians with substantial instructional responsibilities (e.g., clinical faculty members).

Best Practices Institute

Given the uncertainty about when faculty and instructional staff will be back on campus, CTE is cancelling this year’s Best Practices Institute. In its place, we may develop another program which would be offered online late this spring. Details to come.

BPI is a collegial, hands-on seminar especially useful for teachers who would like to reflect on and learn to represent their teaching. BPI is a good first experience for interacting with colleagues about course design. In the BPI, you’ll focus on one thing you want to change about one of your courses. You’ll work in small groups with teachers from various disciplines, as well as with colleagues who’ve successfully implemented changes in their teaching. By the end of BPI, you will have a plan in place and will be ready to implement the course change you want to make next year, and you will be ready to document the results of your teaching project.

What will you do in BPI?

You’ll learn more about:

  • Designing a course to maximize student learning
  • Making the most of class time
  • Using out-of-class time to promote learning (e.g. flipping classes)
  • Assessing learning efficiently and productively
  • Representing your teaching effectiveness

By the end of the seminar, you’ll have an electronic poster that documents new features you’re developing with your teaching and that tracks implementation of your ideas. And as a BPI participant, you’ll receive a $1000 instructional fund you can use for materials, travel, or hourly help for any teaching project.

When is the BPI?

The seminar is typically held in May. Participants also attend two follow-up sessions during the following Fall semester. 

When is the application deadline?

Application guidelines and submission portal for BPI are not available for Spring 2020.

CTE Department Teaching Grants

The Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) offers $5,000 grants (with potential for renewal) to departments/units to develop teaching initiatives of their choosing at the undergraduate or graduate level. Examples of projects that could be funded include but are not limited to:

  • Evaluating curriculum to facilitate student learning in a program
  • Planning departmental course offerings to identify redundancies or gaps that impede students’ progress in a program
  • Developing a series of hybrid courses to improve undergraduate or graduate education
  • Establishing e-portfolios for students to demonstrate their learning in a program

Examples of activities that could be supported include but are not limited to: planning retreats and start-up costs; workshops facilitated by consultants; travel to conferences or other campuses to learn about successful strategies; summer salary for project participants; and/or student employment (undergraduate or graduate) for project assistance.

Academic departments or equivalent academic units on the Lawrence campus are eligible. CTE’s advisory board will review applications and identify recipients. Project goals must be clearly defined, as well as how the unit will determine whether the goals have been met. Projects should promote cooperative, integrated participation among faculty members. Preference will be given to projects that will have a high impact on the teaching culture of a unit and that have the potential to impact multiple units at KU.

Application Process

Submit a one- to two-page application that addresses these questions:

  1. What are the goals of your department/unit project?
  2. Who is the project leader, and which other faculty members will be involved?
  3. How would the project improve student learning?
  4. How will you demonstrate that the goals have been met?

The application must include a general budget for the project. Applications should be sent to Judy Eddy at

Grant Recipient Information

CTE will usually transfer the grants (state funds) by the end of December. By June 1, each grant recipient must submit a report to CTE that includes information about the project’s impact on student learning. A final report is due at the end of the project. Recipients are encouraged to present a breakout session about their project at the KU Summit.


Mid- to late-November: Applications due to CTE

Mid-December: Selection of grant recipient


Contact Andrea Greenhoot, Center for Teaching Excellence, at 864-4199 or

Course Transformation Grants

CTE regularly offers grants of $1000-$3000 to support the transformation of one or more courses with student-centered, evidence-based practices. Funding has been made possible through the TRESTLE and C21 programs (see below).

We are currently accept proposals for Course Transformation Grants every September, and the official call and online application can be accessed at this link.

Curriculum Mapping

In order to better represent their teaching and assess student learning, multiple departments at KU have initiated a process known as “curriculum mapping.” This process aims to “identify and address academic gaps, redundancies, and misalignments for purposes of improving the overall coherence of a course of study and, by extension, its effectiveness” (Glossary of Education Reform).

Equipped with funding they received from the CTE Department Teaching Grant, the KU Department of Geology and the Music Therapy Program are utilizing curriculum mapping to assess the goals and design not only of individual courses, but also of the degree program and course of study curriculum as a whole. Curriculum mapping is an effective and intensive means of departmental self-assessment, and it allows for greater transparency regarding course alignment and student progress.

We encourage you to review the results of the curriculum mapping process by studying this Mapping Geology poster, which contains a detailed account of the Department of Geology’s mission and redesign strategy. The Music Therapy Program’s Vision and Mission poster also presents a visualization of the eclectic elements that comprise the identity of an academic discipline, and is an important foundational document for the early, and of course crucial, stages of curriculum mapping.

More examples and results will be posted here as additional departments undertake and complete their curriculum redesign. CTE is proud to present these results to the intellectual community of teachers at the University of Kansas.


The future of the university depends on innovating teaching and learning in ways that attract students, create new opportunities for student growth and discovery, and support their success now and in the future. A new CTE program called Ideas-to-Action will help KU-Lawrence departments develop ideas and plans for such innovations. It is a semester-long program in which department teams will explore questions, challenges, and opportunities in their programs and develop a vision for evidence-informed changes. The program will support exploration, ideation, and planning by providing access to data, tools, guidance, funding, and community.

Ideas-to-Action is designed to lead to actionable plans for innovating teaching and learning in a department. We also encourage departments to use the program to explore the impact of prior program enhancements, or to develop and focus proposals for funding to support next steps, such as the Curriculum Innovation Program, Course Transformation Grants, or external grants. Departments will identify a team of faculty to develop questions about their curriculum or their students, explore evidence related to their questions, and develop plans based on the results.

Deadline for Applications: September 9th

Curriculum Innovation Program

CTE’s Curriculum Innovation Program will help KU-Lawrence departments develop and implement such innovations. The goal is for departments to design new learning experiences that are informed by an understanding of their students and the higher education context, and grounded in the literature on teaching and learning. The Curriculum Innovation Program is a two-year program in which department teams will transform a key part of their curriculum, implement the changes, and assess the impact of the innovations.

In CIP, departments will identify two or three courses to be the focus of their work, and a team of faculty will design and implement a plan to innovate teaching and learning in the target courses and to assess the impact of the innovations. Innovations might include realigning learning outcomes and content and/or pedagogies between courses to increase curricular coherence; developing and embedding more inclusive content and practices or real-world learning experiences into courses; more systematically integrating active, team-based, or problem-focused learning into courses; or other implementing other innovations known to foster deep learning and engagement.

Deadline for Applications: December 4th

January Jumpstart

CTE January Jumpstart, January 15-16, 2020

CTE’s January Jumpstart is a course design institute that will give new faculty members an opportunity to work on plans for a Spring 2020 course. Participants can make best use of their planning time by discussing effective teaching practices and workshopping ideas in a collegial setting. In the spring, participants will also meet for two follow-up sessions, to reflect on progress and discuss implementation and assessment.

Deadline for Applications: December 4th


TRESTLE, which stands for Transforming Education, Stimulating Teaching and Learning Excellence, is a multi-institution, NSF-funded project (NSF DUE #1525775) designed to help STEM departments transform undergraduate courses around teaching strategies that are known to improve student learning. TRESTLE is led by KU and involves six other research universities: Indiana University, Queen’s University, U of British Columbia, UC Davis, U of Colorado, and UT San Antonio. This project offers KU faculty members:

  • Funding for TRESTLE course transformation grants and travel grants to help faculty redesign courses to create a more active learning environment and track student learning based on the redesign efforts. A PDF of the request for travel grant proposals can be found here.
  • An online community of colleagues and collaborators from other TRESTLE institutions who are also focusing on STEM course reform.
  • A virtual online “Brown Bag Discussion” series, open to anyone interested in course transformation or other teaching change efforts.
  • Opportunities to participate in annual face-to-face gatherings of this network to share strategies, results, and lessons learned.
  • Access to resources and rich examples of successful and ongoing course transformation work via the TRESTLE website.

Each TRESTLE campus is implementing their own adaptation of a course transformation initiative that involves (a) department-embedded experts, such as teaching postdoctoral fellows, who collaborate with faculty on course transformation, and (b) the formation of intellectual communities around student-centered teaching and active learning, within and across departments, and across the TRESTLE network.

To join the TRESTLE network and learn more about events and resources, follow this link to visit the network website.

  • Andrea Follmer Greenhoot (PI), Director of CTE and Professor of Psychology
  • Caroline Bennett (Co-PI), Associate Professor of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
  • Mark Mort (Co-PI), Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Blair Schneider, TRESTLE Program Manager and Postdoctoral Fellow

Teaching Demos

Teaching Demo are interactive, fast-paced sessions in which instructors from many disciplines share their best assignments, assessment ideas, or class activities. At CTE, we want to give instructors the opportunity to share their best material that other instructors can use in their classes right away. Each demonstration lasts 15 minutes, and each speaker presents the demonstration one or two times. We hope you consider sharing an activity with us in the future. Demo sessions are typically held the week prior to the start of the semester. Check back later in the fall for more information and calls for applications. 

FALL 2018

CTE C21 Teaching Demonstrations

Friday, November 16, 2 - 3:30 p.m. in the Big 12 Room of the Kansas Union


Round 1 (2:05-2:45)

Using Reading Circles in a 100-level Non-Majors Geology Course by Leigh Stearns, Geology

Is It Plagiarism If...A Kahoot! Activity to Better Understand Plagiarism by Melissa Peterson, Applied English Center

Active Learning for Chemical Separations by Kyle Camarda, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

"The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down": A Silent Seminar by Kathryn Rhine, Anthropology

For more information on Kathryn's demo, check out this blog post by CTE Associate Director, Doug Ward.


Round 2 (2:50-3:30)

Formative Presentation Circles: Persuasion by Emily Clark, Applied English Center

Making Grading Easier in Large Classes, Without Multiple Choice by Lisa Sharpe Elles, Chemistry

The Magic of Markers by Michael Ralph and Debra Compton, Center for STEM Learning

Reconstructing Film by Rafael Acosta Morales, Spanish and Portuguese



CTE C21 Teaching Demonstrations

Friday, March 1, 2 - 3:30 p.m. in the Beren Petroleum Center (Slawson Hall G190/191)


Round 1 (2:10-2:45)

Hyper-Scaffolding: Assignment transformation to raise student work from “pretty good” to “outstanding”by Kathleen Nuckolls, Environmental Studies Program

Helping students gain confidence in sharing their expertise by Carolyn Heacock and Emily Clark, Applied English Center

Divide and Computerize: Organizing Online Flashcard Creation for Classroom Review Games by Molly Godwin-Jones, Slavic Languages and Literatures


Round 2 (2:55-3:30)

A Creative Approach to Group Presentations by Phil Baringer, Physics & Astronomy

What are your students thinking in class? Quickly posing questions to any class size using iClicker Reef and moving beyond multiple choice by Jenny Archibald and Trevor Rivers, Undergraduate Biology Program

Pottery Basics: Thrown and Flipped by Sarah Gross, Visual Art

Past Offerings

C21 Consortium [2013-2019]

Most faculty members participate in intellectual communities organized around our scholarship or creative work. In these communities we exchange ideas, challenge each other to think in new ways, and ultimately advance the work in our fields. For most of us, similar opportunities for intellectual discourse on teaching are rare.

One opportunity CTE has provided is an intellectual community around student-centered teaching. The C21 (i.e., 21st century) Course Redesign Consortium was a group of individuals from across campus who shared the goal of student-centered course transformation at KU. These course transformations took advantage of today’s widespread availability of information, and they move students from a passive role in a classroom (e.g., note taking) to an active learning orientation (e.g., problem solving, writing, and collaboration). C21 activities are funded by the Provost’s Office and CLAS.


Collaborative Humanities Redesign Project [2017]

The Collaborative Humanities Redesign Project (CHRP) was an interdisciplinary collaboration that began with common exploration of the goals of both courses and majors, followed by the identification of challenges in helping students acquire a deeper understanding of humanities topics and the forms of inquiry and evidence characteristic of humanities scholarship. The project began in the 2014-2015 academic year and concluded with a conference in June 2017.

For more information about CHRP and its participants, follow this link.

CTE turns 25

The Center for Teaching Excellence is celebrating its 25th birthday this academic year. Watch for special events and workshops.