Benefits of Participation in the CCTP

The communication of ideas is crucial to many agriculture and natural resource-based fields, especially academic positions.  The CCTP was developed in response to students who wanted to gain teaching experience and graduate better qualified for academic positions.


To be eligible, students must be enrolled in an M.S. or Ph.D. program in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and have a commitment to developing their teaching competence.


Application to the Program

Interested students or post-docs should complete the application form.  Completing the form will trigger the College CCTP coordinator (Lisa Duffey, Room 121 Morrill Hall of Agriculture) to schedule a short meeting with the individual about certification requirements. The form will also request approvals from the individual's research and teaching advisors.

Course Work

CCTP participants must complete ISE 870 with a grade of 3.0 or higher. (You may need to request an override from the instructor to enroll in this course.)  A list of courses that may be substituted, with the approval of the college coordinator, can be found on the Graduate School website.  An additional substitution is the Johns Hopkins Teaching Institute available through CIRTL.

Required Course

ISE 870 - Teaching College Science

Semester:  Spring of every year
Credits:  Total Credits: 2
Recommended Background:  One year of graduate study in a biological or physical science.
Restrictions:  Approval of college.
Description:  Philosophies of education. Ethnic, gender, and cultural issues. Designing a laboratory course. Problems of class size. Instructional technologies. Assessment and evaluation.

Core Area Competencies

The CCTP program was assembled around five core competency areas:

1. Developing Discipline-Related Teaching Strategies.

Select appropriate pedagogical approaches to teaching threshold concepts and research methods specific to a discipline or field.

  • Design and facilitate learning of discipline-specific content
  • Instructional design
  • Plan course objectives
  • Teaching contexts: discussions, small groups, laboratories, lectures, recitations, office hours, tutoring

2. Creating Effective Learning Environments.

Cultivate effective learning environments by promoting student success and engagement and creating inclusive learning spaces.

  • Multimedia
  • Distance Learning
  • Hybrid courses
  • Video technologies

3. Incorporating Technology in Your Teaching.

Incorporate digital technologies into teaching practices.

  • Faculty rights, roles and responsibilities
  • Teaching as research and professional development
  • Developing a professional teaching presence and plan

4. Understanding the University Context.

Negotiate the college and/or university institutional environment (e.g., identify partners, resources, governance structures) to maximize their ability to cultivate student learning.

  • Learning styles
  • Diversity
  • Motivation
  • Communication skills
  • Active learning
  • Classroom management strategies

5. Assessing Student Learning.

Assess student learning outcomes using summative and/or formative approaches.

  • Testing
  • Grading
  • Classroom assessment
  • Course Design
  • Portfolio assessment

Competency in these five core areas is a requirement of the CCTP. Participation in workshops, seminars, specific courses, course-specific TA training programs and professional meetings may count toward completion of the core areas. A minimum of one workshop, seminar, etc., (hereafter activities) is required to fulfill each of the five core areas; however, participation in additional activities is strongly encouraged.

One way to meet the requirements for core competencies 2 through 4 is by attending the CCT Institute held every May on the MSU campus.  Visit the Graduate School’s website for more information about the Institute.

Mentored Teaching Experience

CCTP participants are required to conduct one semester of Mentored Teaching Experience. Participation in multiple semesters of teaching experience is encouraged, but not required. The mentored teaching experience is designed to bring together graduate students with faculty in their disciplines that have similar pedagogical interests. Academic advisors may serve as the participants’ teaching mentors; however, a participant may choose to work with another faculty member within or outside his or her department or school.

The mentored teaching experience requires the completion of a teaching project (UCRIHS approval may be necessary for some teaching projects) and a minimum of one reflection paper on experiences while teaching. Graduate students and faculty mentors should have active discussions about teaching and learning, and explore innovative teaching practices. Note: the requirements of the mentored teaching experience are flexible. The requirement may be fulfilled in many ways, including online instruction, hosting workshops or teaching seminar courses. The faculty mentor and CCTP participant should decide on a mentored teaching experience appropriate for the participant’s future goals.

See the website for application and evaluation forms for the Mentored Teaching Project.

Teaching Portfolio

The teaching portfolio will demonstrate and document the participant’s accomplishments and growth during the CCTP. The portfolio should contain Reflection Papers on teaching philosophies and the five core competency areas, as well as curricular development materials, faculty observations, student evaluations and other supporting activities from the core competency areas. The CCTP program coordinator will review and evaluate the portfolio, initiating discussions of the contents with the program participant where appropriate. The completed portfolio should be a high quality, professional document that may be used by the participant as evidence of teaching experience during future interviews for academic positions.

The Graduate School’s website has a

Completion of Program

The CCTP participant must complete and illustrate competency in the above requirements to earn the Certification in College Teaching. The CCTP program coordinator, along with the faculty mentor, will consult with the participant to develop a program appropriate for the student. The student must complete the graduate certification checklist and include a copy in the teaching portfolio. When all requirements are complete, electronically submit the final version of the portfolio (#5 above) and the Mentored Teaching Project Approval Document (#4 above).  The CCTP program coordinator and the Graduate School will review and determine if the participant has met all the CCTP requirements.

Completion of the program is expected to take approximately two years. Upon completion of the program, the participant will receive a certificate from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Michigan State University indicating the participant’s knowledge about and experience in teaching at the college level. Note: the participant will not receive a degree or state certification in teaching. Participation in the CCTP program will also result in a notation on the participant’s transcript.