CIRTL TAR Projects at UCI

The Center for Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning is a learning community of 43 research universities that focus on advancing effective teaching practices in STEM. UCI joined the Network in 2016, and the UCI GPS-CIRTL program is hosted by Graduate Division with significant pedagogy training carried out by the Center for Engaged Instruction and the teaching as research training carried out by the TLRC.

Teaching as Research (TAR) is one of the three CIRTL core ideas:

Teaching-as-research is the deliberate, systematic, and reflective use of research methods by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) instructors to develop and implement teaching practices that advance the learning experiences and outcomes of both students and teachers.

Graduate students and postdocs who are interested in completing a TAR project normally follow this path:

Part 1: Earn a CIRTL Associate Level

Take Uni Studies 390x with CEI’s Dr. Danny Mann. This course in Advanced Pedagogy: “Developing Teaching Excellence” is taught every quarter and meets Wednesday afternoons. An additional benefit to the 390X course is completion satisfies the majority of the requirements for a Certificate in Teaching Excellence and grants eligibility to apply for the Pedagogical Fellowship.
Other options for a CIRTL Associate exist if you cannot attend this course, including a la carte workshops or an online version of the course that can be combined with a casual learning community of your peers.

Part 2: Attend Uni Studies 395 for the first time

The Seminar for Teaching as Research is a seminar that will meet weekly for an hour starting Fall 2017. This is an introduction to education research, including its literature, techniques and approvals. You can attend without committing to a TAR research project, and will have a solid understanding of what a project will require when the course is over. The course has regular readings and assignments for a 2-3 hour per week workload. Even if you do not complete a TAR project, you will be able to intelligently discuss assessments, common measurements of teaching effectiveness and student motivation, and experimental design in large STEM courses upon finishing the seminar.

Part 3: Plan a TAR project and get support from an instructional mentor and your advisor

Graduate students who have finished UniSt 395 have priority for support from the TLRC and will receive support and guidance on their project. The timeline of a project will depend on when the class associated with the project is next taught.

Part 4: Carry out your TAR project and attend Uni Studies 395 again

Most TAR projects consist of some sort of intervention within a course, with a measurement of its effectiveness. TAR researchers are encouraged to bring their interventions and assessments to the 395 class for beta testing and feedback.

Part 5: Analyse your results and earn a CIRTL Practitioner Level

Upon completion of your TAR project, the TLRC will assist you in analyzing your results and preparing a poster or a short report. Upon completion of this final product, you will be given certification of completion.

This page is intended to be an overview of a program that is expected to be rather variable for every student. If you would like more information or guidance on next steps, please contact the TLRC Director, Dr. Adrienne Williams, at

If you want to hear more about discipline-based education research at UCI and associated funding for TAR projects, we recommend you join our TLRC mailing list.

You can also find out more about CIRTL and take their online workshops and short courses for free. We recommend registering at and getting their informational emails.