By: Cassandra Hendry, TLS staff writer

Impressive things happen when you mix a desire to learn and a passion for teaching. Just ask some of the graduates of Carleton’s pedagogy-based certificate programs.

Facilitated by the Educational Development Centre, the four certificate programs tackle various aspects of teaching in a university setting in a hands-on way, allowing those pursuing them to connect with others across all disciplines and improve their teaching skills.

Janne Cleveland, an English professor who completed the Certificate in University Teaching, explains that for professors like her who have been teaching some of the same courses for years, it was a welcome opportunity to learn how to switch up her teaching style.

“After a while you get stale . . . you begin to feel a bit robotic. I knew there were new things out there, and I wanted to know what they were,” Cleveland says.

That was the case for journalism professor Mary McGuire as well, who obtained the Certificate in Blended and Online Teaching. As a leader in the department who is involved in curriculum reform, she says she wanted to explore new ways courses could be designed, especially through combining online and in-class work.

Through her experience earning the certificate, which included working towards developing online modules for students, McGuire says her understanding of teaching changed greatly.

“The most valuable aspect of the course is that I got to experience it as a student,” she says. “After teaching for a number of years, you design the lessons and deliver the material you think is important, but you have no way to know what students are absorbing . . . I got to experience that and know what it’s like. That’s quite educational.”

Political science and political economy PhD candidate Ajay Parasram, who completed the Preparing to Teach Certificate, found that the certificate was the perfect remedy for those with no formal pedagogical training.

“Given that I am preparing to commit my life to the idea of teaching people, it’s crucial to take some sort of concentrated study of teaching and practice. The certificate is absolutely mandatory to anyone who takes university education seriously,” Parasram says.

Bridgette Brown was in the same situation as well. As a new PhD student to Carleton, she had never received any training to be a TA previously. But thanks to the Certificate in Teaching Assistants Skills, she was able to get free training she could tailor to her interests.

As this certificate requires 10 EDC workshop credits of the student’s choosing, Brown had the opportunity to dabble in a wide variety of subjects, including library research, handling difficult students, and how to deal with the anxieties of grad school.

Now Brown works as a mentor to TAs in the English department, and she cites the Certificate in TA Skills as a major contributor to that. Her advice to those considering registering?

“I’d say go for it. Anything you learn in the classroom is going to help with life. It’s a fantastic opportunity.”

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of the EDC’s certificate programs and details on upcoming cohorts, visit our certificates page or contact us at, 613-520-4433.