Prior Fellows’ Work

Several prior COLA fellows offered to share their reflections, evaluations, and fellowship deliverables publicly. Browse them all or jump to a category:


Engaging in meaningful reflection on teaching, learning, and professional development is a key component of the COLA fellowship. Quotes from reflections are shared to demonstrate the breadth of COLA topics and ways that students benefitted.

Reflections on Learning

When I started the 2021 COLA experience, I had no digital learning teaching experiences. Although I knew about setting up a course based learning objectives and having both low/high stake assessments… I did not know anything about additional digital sources to make digital assessments. Also, I learned “how” to operate D2L to design my course module.

During the workshop, I was also reflecting on assessment and how to not only create accessible and inclusive class materials but also tests and exams for students. You can have the most inclusive and accessible materials, but if the exams fail to do the same it can be really frustrating for students.

We learned how to use ‘backward designing’ to do our lesson plan. That’s really an effective way to decide which modes of learning can be effective. In backward designing, we need to select learning goals first, then how we can assess that particular lesson. When we are done with those, we can easily select the modes of learning is best suit for.

Reflections on Other Benefits

It was helpful to learn that many other graduate students feel at least slightly nervous about teaching. Having this community was a wonderful reminder that I am not alone. Additionally, working with graduate students from a wide variety of disciplines made that feeling of isolation far easier to understand and work with.

I very much enjoyed and learned a lot from the interactions with other fellows and writing reflections on my teaching–which I want to continue doing this semester. I also appreciated how the program was flexible with time and modality.

Speaking for myself, it often feels very isolating to request things like accessible media from my department or from a specific professor. Knowing that there are other scholars within MSU that are also working towards a different kind of educational environment is very encouraging.

The EDLI team also uses COLA reflections to understand what opportunities there are for improvement of the fellowship. Based on student reflections and requests, we continually update our workshop offerings, improve the structure of the interactions with cohorts and mentors, and evaluate which technologies we are using in guiding students through the fellowship.


Each year, fellows take surveys to evaluate our success. In 2022, we used a measure of teaching self-efficacy adapted from Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk Hoy (2001) on pre- and post-surveys. Questions are rated on a nine-point scale from “nothing” to “a great deal”. Some example questions are:

  • How much can you do to get students to believe they can do well in the coursework?
  • To what extent can you craft good questions for your students?
  • How much can you use a variety of assessment strategies?

A paired samples t-test from 14 respondents indicated a significant increase in participants’ teaching self-efficacy in online courses by the end of the summer (M = 6.93, Variance = 0.82) compared to the beginning of the COLA program (M = 6.21, Variance = 1.36), t(13) = 2.25, p < .05.

Tschannen-Moran, M., & Woolfolk Hoy, A. (2001). Teacher efficacy: Capturing and elusive construct. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17, 783-805.


Common deliverables that students have created for the COLA fellowship include course modules, syllabi, assessments, literature reviews, professional websites, and teaching philosophy statements. Examples of some of these deliverables are below.


Some COLA fellows created websites to share their teaching and learning portfolios. These could feature students’ other deliverables or their reflections on the fellowship experience.

  • Md Iqbal Hossain’s COLA portfolio appears on his main website here.
  • Another website example is the screenshot below:

Course Modules

Course modules created through the COLA Fellowship often used components of backward design, where students would first create learning objectives and then create aligned learning materials and assignments for students to meet those objectives. Course modules might include a full course map with one detailed example of a lesson plan, or only one lesson plan or learning objective for the course. Here are two examples:

  • This course module is from Physiology. View the full module at the link below.
A screenshot of a course home page in a learning management system. The Module is titled Module 1: Introduction to Urinary Bladder Physiology.
  • This course module is from Fluid Mechanics. View the full module at the link below.
A table titled "Teaching structure". Table subheadings include learning objectives, encouraging interaction, inspiration/curiosity, feedback mechanism, and assessment of skills. The table rows describe activities for each sub-heading related to a fluid mechanics laboratory course.

Teaching Philosophies

  • This example comes from an instructor of writing and rhetoric. There is an image preview and the full philosophy can be downloaded at the link below.
This image is a preview of the teaching philosophy document. It reads: My philosophy of teaching is energized by my disciplinary commitments and my experiences as a non-traditional student. First, I am an educator who teaches from pedagogical training in rhetoric and writing studies (namely, technical writing, professional communication, and digital rhetorics). But before I became an educator, I was a gay, Mexican American, foster care alumnus who grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Texas and who dropped out of community college to be a florist. These experiential qualities of my life spark into the pedagogical kinesis of the following values, each deeply integral to my teaching:
• I believe that culture is rhetorical and vice versa, and I tailor my curriculum so that students can hone their cultural, disciplinary, and rhetorical savvy against the backdrop of their commitments to the world at large.
• I believe that education happens best in community, and my pedagogy includes opportunities for community-building (e.g., group work and instructor-student meetings) throughout the semester, which also entails one-to-one support for marginalized students
• I believe teaching—lessons, assignments, examples—should be attuned to students’ professional and personal interests, literacies, and goals, which should be accounted for in fun yet practical exercises and projects for students to draw upon and develop their extant knowledge.
• I believe that, through the interrogative affordances of rhetorical analysis, students should think ethically about the documents they produce—even the seemingly mundane and innocuous—as well as the social and political implications of their work.
  • This teaching philosophy is from an instructor of engineering courses.
This is an image preview of the Teaching-Philosophy-STEM file. It reads: 
Flipped classroom design: While I have always tried to understand the student perspective when preparing lectures and assessments as a teaching assistant, I used this fellowship as an opportunity to design the entire course module myself. The concept of a flipped classroom taught in the workshop was new, it resonated with me, and I used the concept of backward design to formulate my course plan. I believe in utilizing the class time to its maximum potential by solving problems with students directly and assess the specific needs of students with the inter-personal understanding derived from this interaction. However, exploring research articles on flipped classroom strategies I figured out that a major challenge in the inverted classroom model is in ensuring that the students are well prepared for the problem-solving interactions with peers and the teacher in class [2]. My pre-emptive plan to address this formulating highly articulate video lectures of the kind seen in traditional lectures and providing those materials as supporting documents that has to be viewed before class. I plan on spending first 15 mins of class engaging in an interactive open to whole class quiz using Kahoot where everyone answers the question, they can readily get an explanation if they answer it wrong, hence I can assess their preparation to help fill the gap.
  • Our final example is from an instructor of languages.
This is an excerpt from the Teaching Philosophy Languages file. It reads: To me, taking on different perspectives, developing critical ways of thinking, and paying attention to details is what learning (and teaching) is about. Therefore, I encourage students to engage in vivid discussions on current topics regarding Germany and the US, where they can talk about on-goings that are meaningful and important to them. I grew up in the West of Germany and like to talk about the history of East and West Germany during the Berlin Wall. As I have also lived in Berlin for eight years, I have seen and felt the differences that continue to show between East and West Germany to this day. Having lived in both Berlin and Bonn, which used to be the capital of West Germany during the separation, allows me to share very personal experiences I have had in those two cities, while also addressing politics and historical events. The cultural aspect of teaching a foreign language is a topic close to my heart, therefore I share our holidays, traditions, and dialect in the West with my students, so they can feel connected to the country without being there. Moreover, I have organized cultural events such as Weihnachtsmarkt and Oktoberfest, and I recommend my favorite German music, movies, sports, and novels. I talk to my students about ‘the German mindset,’ and how they can better understand it by paying attention to syntax, and by recognizing the importance of detail and word order within a sentence. These teaching moments have been extremely rewarding and have taught me more about my own culture by seeing it through someone else’s eyes.