Information for Afternoon Mini-Workshop Conveners

It is our goal to support all workshop conveners in designing, planning, and executing workshops that follow best-practices. To that end, this page provides information about those best practices and the Serckit tools that can be used before, during, and after your workshop. If you have any questions about how to implement these features, contact your web team support person.

Jump Down To: Tools to Support Best-Practices | Other Resources | On-Site Logistics

Afternoon Workshop Leader Webinar

Click to watch the webinar screencast (MP4 Video 47.7MB Mar21 18).

Presentation Slides (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 2.2MB Mar20 18)

Workshop Best-Practices

Planning an effective workshop is much like planning an effective learning experience for students in the classroom and lab. What goals do you have for the participants? How will the workshop effectively engage participants and ensure that the goals for participants are met? How will you assess whether participants have benefited from the workshop? Here are some best practices that have been gleaned over more than a decade of running workshops in On the Cutting Edge and InTeGrate.

Workshop Best-Practices

  • Active engagement of participants during the workshop: Nothing is deadlier or less effective than a workshop where participants do not participate. Give people an opportunity to participate actively in every session using a variety of techniques: small group discussion, large group discussion, short problem-solving tasks, etc.
  • Model effective pedagogy: The most successful workshop sessions are those taught with good active pedagogy in mind and the least successful sessions are those where a presenter simply stands up and talks.
  • Give participants time to interact and share experience/knowledge: Participants bring valuable experience and ideas to workshops. Structured mechanisms for sharing experiences and expertise must be an integral part of every workshop program.
  • Emphasize practical applications: An emphasis on practical applications and strategies is an important aspect of effecting change in teaching practice.
  • Give participants time to make progress on a specific task that connects the workshop topic to their teaching: Time to work individually during the workshop allows participants to reflect and to make progress on adapting workshop content to their own needs. This can be effectively supported during the workshop by providing opportunities for participants to work one-on-one or in small groups with workshop leaders.
  • Make sure that participants leave the workshop with specific plans for future action: Workshops can produce a wide variety of results ranging from changes in teaching practice and development of new learning resources to department-level planning and community-wide action. In all cases, workshop time devoted to planning next steps and feedback from peers is critical.
  • Provide materials and examples: Examples of how the workshop topics can be applied in the classroom and field are particularly valuable resources for participants.
  • Require some preparation in advance of the workshop: Coming prepared is as important for a workshop as it is for a class. A variety of approaches can be used to prepare participants for the workshop including reflection on their goals for the workshop, development of project ideas for completion at the workshop, assembling materials for sharing, pre-workshop discussion, and participating in surveys of participant needs.
  • Make use of the workshop website: Use the program page to organize documents that you would like the participants to access either prior to or during the workshop. Additional pages of resources can be added to your website if you wish. Each workshop also comes with a private workspace for use by the workshop participants (more information below). The website will be a resource that your participants can return to when they want to make use of what they learned.

Tools to Support Best-Practices

Serckit (formerly the SERC CMS) was designed with support for these best-practices in mind. Through Serckit, you have access to a variety of tools to facilitate the run up to, execution of, and follow-up to your workshop at the Rendezvous.

Action Plans

If you wish, you can have participants complete an Action Plan for what they will do with what they learned in your workshop. We have a generic Action Plan Template (Microsoft Word 26kB Jun15 15) that you can use directly or customize for your workshop. If you want to make use of the Action Plan in your workshop, let your web team support person know so they can build the necessary upload form in your workshop site.

End of Workshop Evaluations

All workshops are required to have an End of Workshop Evaluation and you will be provided with a form to use. This exit survey will be tied to your workshop goals and is designed to get formative feedback on the workshop format and how it serves participants' overall meeting goals, as well as feedback for you. Your web team support person will build a form in your workshop site with standard questions.


Since Rendezvous participants don't have to register for the afternoon workshops ahead of time, we need to have a way of knowing who participated. Copies of this Attendance Sheet (Acrobat (PDF) 76kB May31 16) will be provided for your workshop. Attendees should complete this as they come in so that the support person can pick them up after the workshop has gotten going. The information on these sheets will be used to create an email list for the attendees associated with your workshop so that communication can continue after the event.

Other Resources

You can read more about the lessons learned over the years of Cutting Edge and InTeGrate workshops on those project websites:

On-site Logistics

Each workshop room has wifi access and a projector. Please plan on bringing your own laptop to use for presentations (including an projector adaptor if you're using a Mac). Also, plan to bring any supplies you might need.

Preparatory Webteam Support & Deadlines

*These assignments may change for on-site support, but you can contact the person assigned below for preparatory support for your mini-workshop.

Webteam Support Staff

  • Mitchell Awalt - mawalt AT carleton dot edu
  • Monica Bruckner - mbruckne AT carleton dot edu
  • John McDaris - jmcdaris AT carleton dot edu
  • Cailin Orr - corr AT carleton dot edu

Monday Mini-Workshop Assignments:

  • Paleobiology Database Educational Resources - Cailin
  • Supporting Spatial Thinking - Monica
  • There's Money in Muck - Monica
  • Strategies in SoTL - Mitchell
  • Benefits of Pan-African Approaches to Teaching Geoscience - John
Wednesday Workshop Assignments:
  • Integrating Climate Change Across the Curriculum - Mitchell
  • Exploring Applications of Indigenuity - John
  • Wilder Weather - Monica
  • Developing and Implementing Program Assessment - Cailin
  • Supporting Successful Transitions - Cailin

Thursday Workshop Assignments:

  • GETSI GPS, Strain, and Earthquakes - Monica
  • Advancing the Perception and Adoption of Geosciences in a New Era - John
  • Strategies for Writing a Strong NSF Proposal - John and Cailin
  • Using Excel for Quantitative Skill Development - Cailin
  • Engaging Intro Students with GeoMapApp - Mitchell


  • April 9, 2018: A clear workshop program is published online
  • June 4, 2018: Workshop program is finalized – agenda published with schedule down to the half hour; tell SERC support person what features you want (pre-surveys, workspace, road checks)
  • July 3, 2018: Finalize details of workshop support with SERC staff (sooner is better– this is the absolute last date to make requests)