Faculty News

March 2015 CTLO Newsletter

Caltech Center for Teaching, Learning, & Outreach
Reaching Students by Nancy Kober - book cover
Interested in what works in teaching?

Join us for a discussion in March or April!

about the National Academies' groundbreaking publication for University Science, Math, and Engineering Faculty

RSVP and access full text:

Faculty-Only Lunches: noon 3/12, 3/31, 4/8/15
Open Coffees: 4:00 pm 4/8, 4/14, 4/20/15
LOCATION: CTLO Workshop Space, CSS (Bldg #86), Room 360
Each discussion will provide some context information and address participant interests. For suggested excerpts, RSVP via link provided. Read as much or as little as you like!
Speaker photos

April Talks

Science of Writing Series: Writing Popular Books about Science
Speakers: Caltech Professors Mike Brown, Hirosi Ooguri, and Sean Carroll

WHEN: Tuesday, April 7, Noon (Lunch provided)
WHERE: Dabney Lounge
WHY: Come hear three Caltech faculty, who have written successful books about science for non-experts, discuss the challenges and rewards of their writing.
Transforming Undergraduate Chemistry
Speaker: Dr. Gabriela Weaver, Vice Provost & Professor of Chemistry, UMass Amherst; Caltech Alumna (BS Chemistry, 1989)

WHEN: Friday, April 10, Noon (Lunch provided)
WHERE: Noyes 153
WHY: Find out about new efforts underway to improve undergraduate chemistry programs nationally and see examples of course and curriculum transformations at peer institutions.

Educational Outreach Updates

Broader Impacts â€“ Educational Outreach Support  
Whether you are at the proposal or implementation stage, CTLO can help you develop and implement effective educational outreach and "broader impacts" models.
Summer Programs for Youth  
Looking for some great summer science and engineering programs for your kids? The CTLO is hosting a number of summer programs for youth, from Project Scientist for girls 4-14, to iD Tech Camps for boys and girls 6-17.
Learn more about our Community Science Events. Give a one-hour seminar at Caltech about your research to inspire local teachers to create lessons benefitting thousands of K-12 students. Contact if you are interested in participating.
Caltech's Community Science Academy is offering a series of 6-week summer enrichment programs to transform high school students into innovative researchers. Applications are due April 24.

Contact CTLO Associate Director Mitch Aiken, or 626-395-4641 for more information.

Director's Corner

CTLO started in fall of 2012, and we've been delighted to work with over 150 Caltech faculty in our first two years of existence! 
Typical collaborations with you have included:
  • Designing ways to meet your goals for student learning or classroom climate and interaction, based on the research on teaching in your field.
  • Deploying custom student feedback strategies for your course: e.g., mid-quarter surveys, strategies for getting the most out of Course Ombudspeople meetings.
  • Observing lectures, labs, or recitations, with optional video recording
  • Specialized training or practice for TAs in your course, so their teaching accomplishes your goals.
  • Implementing new technology or tools in your courses or options.
What other questions and ideas do you have about teaching at Caltech? I'd be delighted to hear from you or work with you on upcoming courses and projects. Please reach out any time:, x6225. 
-- Cassandra Horii, CTLO Director

Meet Program Manager, Dr. Holly Ferguson!

Holly joined CTLO in the fall and brings deep expertise in educational psychology, educational technology, and instructor development. Day-to-day, you might find Holly working with a professor on a new MOOC or the iPad app SKIES, meeting with new and experienced TAs to support their work in recitations and labs, exploring emerging techniques and technologies, and leading workshops for Caltech instructors.

One of the undergraduate initiatives Holly assists with is the Course Ombuds program. Twice every quarter, Ombuds from across the Institute gather at CTLO to discuss the role of the Ombud,
how to reach out to fellow students for course feedback, and how to set up meetings and dialogue with professors and TAs about course concerns. 

For more information on any of the programs mentioned above, please contact Holly any time!

CTLO in the News:

This Winter, CTLO unveiled the NEW Caltech Introduction to University Teaching Program, designed to fulfill the institute's TA Orientation requirement.

Now with more dates and times to choose from for the in-person meeting, smaller group sessions, and a more user-friendly Online Policies Module

Find out more at

Here's the Word on the Street:
"Having an expert on teaching visit my class, record a video of me teaching, and discuss ways to improve was incredibly valuable. Everyone should take advantage of this service."
- Erik Snowberg, Prof. of Economics & Political Science
"Preparing my first MOOC, Pricing Options with Mathematical Models, took a lot of time. However, it was made as painless as possible by the fantastic help from the staff of the Caltech Center for Teaching, Learning and Outreach. Without [their] great support on the course organization, working with the edX platform, advice on appropriate educational approach, and more, it wouldn’t have been possible to prepare my MOOC successfully."
- Jaksa CvitanicProf. of Mathematical Finance
"[CTLO staff] were a tremendous help in putting together a good 'broader impacts' section for our MRI proposal to the NSF for the new cryo-EM."
- Grant Jensen
Prof. of Biology & HHMI Investigator

We Are Here For YOU!

We can work with you, your course, or your department on all aspects of teaching and learning, such as:
  • strategies, from traditional to those that incorporate new methods or technologies
  • grading & assessment practices
  • classroom observations/recordings & feedback
  • mid-quarter/end-of-quarter student surveys and focus groups
Please contact us at (626) 395-8427 (main number) or (626) 395-6225 (Director, Cassandra Horii) for more information, email, or stop by the 3rd Floor of the Center for Student Services (Building #86).
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