Scientists Teaching Science Online Course

STEM logo
Course Director: Barbara Houtz, M.Ed, STEM Education Solutions, LLC (Bio at bottom of page)
When: 2022 Summer Course opens unofficially Wednesday, May 25 | Course formally begins on June 1 | Classes run June 1 - August 9, 2022
Where: Online, asynchronous course | Course Director will email link upon enrollment
Course fee: $50 for HMS-Quad, Boston Children's Hospital and Dana-Farber postdocs. All others: $250 course fee. (Instructor will invoice postdocs directly.)


- REGISTER - (Application deadline: Friday, May 20, 2022 @ 12PM)

Description: Do your students seem uninvolved in your lectures? Do they have a hard time answering the questions you ask? Do you find yourself wondering if there’s a different way of teaching? How can you tell if your students really understand the information or have memorized vocabulary terms? How can you address the needs of diverse student groups?

Take the online course “Scientists Teaching Science” and learn about active vs. passive learning, creating course objectives and test items, making your teaching environment a welcoming and supportive place for diverse students, and finding ways to improve your teaching and assessment techniques for students of all ages. You will also be guided through developing a teaching philosophy statement and a model course syllabus.

There are no mandatory class meetings times and you can access the course on your phone or any web-enabled device. One-on-one engagement, personal review of written assignments, and personalized advice on teaching is guaranteed! The time needed to complete all readings and activities is estimated to be about 3 hours a week. All participants who complete the course requirements will be eligible for a personal letter of recommendation from the instructor about teaching preparation for future employment. Participants who complete the course requirements will also receive a certificate of completion from their research institution.

If you are accepted into the course please note that there is a fee for enrollment: $50 for HMS, Dana-Farber and Children's fellows and $250 for all others. The course director will invoice you directly once your acceptance is confirmed.

Application is required. Please note that completed application does not guarantee admission to the course. 

Certificate of Completion and Reference Letter Requirements:
Each Scientists Teaching Science assignment builds from the previous one, culminating in two documents you can use as templates for job applications and in teaching.
Participants must satisfactorily complete six written assignments and all the required elements of nine lessons in order to be eligible for a certificate of completion and a personalized letter of recommendation from the instructor.


Active Learning and Expert Learners: discussion of active learning and learning styles; assigned reading

  • This class is held completely online using the Canvas course management system.
  • It does not meet at any specific time; you have one week to complete each lesson with assignment due date on Tuesday evenings at 11:59 PM Eastern time.
  • The course website is available 24/7 on any device that connects to the Internet.
  • The best browsers to use are Google Chrome or Firefox.

Course Objectives: 

  1. Identify at least three active learning strategies.
  2. Know the four major learning styles and three types of learning environments.
  3. Evaluate personal biases and cultural differences and how these affect student outcomes.
  4. Interpret interpersonal relationships in light of cultural and gender differences.
  5. Compare inquiry-based activities to directed instructional activities.
  6. Create course objectives based on Bloom’s Taxonomy.
  7. Assess the level of Bloom’s Taxonomy of course objectives.
  8. Develop valid multiple choice and essay questions based on objectives.
  9. Recognize several steps in effective curriculum design.
  10. Compose a Teaching Philosophy Statement.
  11. Recommend one or more ways to notify potential students about consequences of cheating or plagiarism.
  12. Construct a detailed course syllabus.
  13. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of teaching and learning in an online environment.
  14. Improve your communication skills.

Course Calendar: 

Course opens unofficially 25 May 2022

Class One: 7 June 2022

  • Active Learning and Expert Learners: discussion of learning & teaching myths; assigned readings on current research findings about teaching and learning. Assignment: Essay: Why I Want to Learn More About Teaching

Class Two: 14 June 2022       

  • Learning Environments and Assessments: discussion on rigor and improving academic outcomes in higher education; assigned readings on improving student outcomes. Assignment: First draft of teaching philosophy statement

Class Three: 21 June 2022

  • Diversity and Bias: discrimination and bias in teaching; assigned readings about experiencing bias or promoting diversity in science careers; inclusive classrooms. Assignment: NONE

Class Four: 28 June 2022

  • Inquiry-Based Science Education: differences between traditional laboratory activities and inquiry-based investigations; assigned readings on inquiry-based teaching in various STEM subjects. Assignment: NONE


Class Five: 12 July 2022

  • Writing Course Objectives: Bloom’s Taxonomy and student learning objectives; assigned readings about writing learning objectives. Assignment: 10 unique learning objectives

Class Six: 19 July 2022

  • Creating Valid Assessments & Alternative Assessments: using rubrics and test blueprints; effective multiple choice and essay questions; designing and evaluating students without using tests for small and large classes; assigned readings on how to write valid assessment items. Assignment: 5 test questions based on previously submitted learning objectives

Class Seven: 26 July 2022

  • Teaching Online: teaching and learning online; challenges and advantages; engaging students; resources and examples. Assignment: online quiz - not graded

Class Eight: 2 August 2022                

  • Elements of Curriculum Design: instruction on the steps involved in designing an entire course, a training session, or a single lesson. Assignment: final copy of Teaching Philosophy Statement to include educational theories/strategies from course.

Class Nine: 9 August 2022

  • Writing a Syllabus & Reflections on Teaching: purpose of a syllabus; legal requirements of teaching; student/academic honor codes; student study habits; assigned reading on plagiarism and the purpose of a syllabus. Assignment: Syllabus based on topics in lecture and chosen subject / learning objectives

Instructor: Barbara Houtz, STEM Education Solutions, LLC

Bio: Barbara Houtz is a former Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow, a science educator, an author of three books on effective teaching strategies in science, a science curriculum developer, and a trainer for K-20 teachers in science, engineering, and literacy. After 13 years of classroom teaching, she moved to the federal government, where she spent several years working at the National Institutes of Health, Office of Science Education, advising on curriculum and teacher professional development for multiple federal research agencies. She spent four years as the Director of Outreach for the Pennsylvania State University’s Eberly College of Science, where she developed multiple educational programs to promote interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers and ensure college and career readiness for K-12 students. Barbara has over 20 years of experience in training educators in both a face-to-face and online environment. Her class on best practices in science education, Scientists Teaching Science, has helped thousands of practicing scientists, physicians, engineers, computer scientists, and others learn how to utilize active teaching strategies recommended for effective STEM instruction in every country and field of study.