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Cornell University

Graduate Coursework in Higher Education

ALS 6014: Theater Techniques for Enhancing Teaching and Public Speaking
ALS 6015: Teaching in Higher Education
ALS 6016: Teaching as Research in Higher Education

ALS 6014: Theater Techniques for Enhancing Teaching and Public Speaking

This seven-week course uses theater techniques to help graduate students enhance their classroom teaching and public speaking in both formal and informal environments. Using the storytelling and character-development techniques of theatrical improvisation, participants will build decision-making skills and their ability to think creatively under pressure through engaging exercises. The goals for this course are to enhance teaching presence in the classroom, form a learning community, and build the confidence necessary to connect with a variety of audiences in a range of educational settings. Participants will design and present a short lesson or talk. Due to the active and sequential nature of the class, please defer taking the course if you know in advance that your schedule will require you to miss two or more sessions.


  • Identify theater strategies for enhancing classroom teaching and public speaking in formal and informal settings.
  • Utilize and practice improvisational techniques to think creatively under pressure and to project confidence and respect for diverse perspectives.
  • Apply storytelling techniques to communicate discipline-specific content more effectively, and in a more engaging manner.
  • Integrate story arcs into presentations and lesson planning.
  • Describe research on the use of theater techniques for enhancing teaching including how using theater techniques works to build more inclusive classes.
  • Design and present a short lesson or talk that includes: a rationale for how the lesson or talk was constructed around learning outcomes, the theater or public speaking principles applied, and methods for assessing student/audience engagement and learning.
  • Demonstrate evidence of reflective practice and learning through a web-based portfolio.

For more information, please contact or call (607) 255-7224.

ALS 6015: Teaching in Higher Education

Graduate students who are currently teaching and preparing for a faculty position in higher education are encouraged to take CTI's course on teaching in higher education. Course activities cover areas related to effective teaching and professional development as future faculty members in a higher education setting. Students complete an electronic portfolio that documents excellence in teaching and that supports their career, their preparation, and their application for future faculty positions.

As part of the course and portfolio, participants:

  • Develop a teaching philosophy statement.
  • Write a research statement.
  • Design a syllabus in their discipline.
  • Construct learning outcomes.
  • Identify course content and activities.
  • Conduct assessment.
  • Incorporate a “blended” (face-to-face and online) web-based course format.
  • Conduct a faculty mentor interview.
  • Receive peer and faculty feedback.
  • Prepare a CV.
  • Articulate a professional identity as a future faculty member in higher education.

The course also covers a range of topics related to professional development and successful teaching specific to higher education settings, including:

  • The context and culture of higher education
  • Faculty roles and responsibilities
  • Teaching styles
  • Instructional methods
  • Technology use
  • Diversity
  • Grading
  • Advising
  • Committees
  • Professional associations
  • Peer review
  • Assessment
  • Other areas related to teaching and professional development in higher education

For more information, please contact or call (607) 255-7224.

ALS 6016: Teaching as Research in Higher Education

Upon successful completion of ALS 6015, graduate students are encouraged to continue in ALS 6016: Teaching as Research in Higher Education.

This course exposes students to the literature on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) and facilitates their engagement in teaching as research within their disciplines. Within this academic conversation about the scholarship of teaching and learning and teaching as research, students design and complete their own original research project to inform teaching in their discipline.

This course culminates in the creation of a completed teaching-as-research project to include:

  • An in-depth literature review incorporating SOTL resources from one’s discipline.
  • A methodology designed to address a particular need in one’s teaching and/or within teaching in one’s discipline.
  • A critical analysis of the results and conclusions in a final, formal research report.

Throughout the process, students:

  • Give and receive critical feedback on their progress during key developmental stages of the research process.
  • Present their reports in class and are encouraged to present in at least one additional venue (i.e., for one’s department, for the CTI in a final SOTL Symposium, or in a workshop designed around one's findings).

For more information, please contact or call (607) 255-7224.

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