Carnegie Mellon University

Tips for Planning Programs for Teachers and K-12 Students

  1. Determine the audience for your program; will this professional development program be relevant for educators of specific content areas? Take some time to think about the type and minimum amount of knowledge that is required to understand the content that will be presented in your session.
  2. What are the learning objectives? What should the people know and be able to do as a result of participation in the session? Some examples: is the goal to create awareness about your career area or the research work that is being conducted in your lab? Is it to help teachers learn about the ways in which content taught in their classroom is used by people in your field?  Do you want to increase content knowledge
  3. What is the format of the session? This may be a workshop that combines lecture [if you choose to use this format, embed questions and opportunities for the teachers to participate in conversations], hands-on activities and discussion. Other options are demonstrations or lab tours.  Once you know what you will do, then you can determine the agenda.
  4. What will be the length of the session?  On weekends we tend to have success with three hour programs that are held from 9-12.  If you have a longer program it is best to provide a meal because it may be difficult for participants to find options for purchasing food.  Full-day and multiple-day programs are also an option.
  5. How will you assess the impact of the program on the participants? When using grant funds for educational outreach purposes, the funder will ask if the program has made a difference in the lives of the people who attended. How will you know that the goals have been achieved? Think about the format of a pre- and post-program survey or assessment that can help you to answer this question. For content knowledge, you may want to have selected response items.   To learn how people intend to integrate the new knowledge or skills that they have acquired into their classroom teaching, use an open ended question. The responses will help you to understand how teachers of different subjects and grade levels can motivate students to consider choosing your field of study for their postsecondary experiences. Information that you acquire through the open ended questions can be integrated into future offerings of your professional development program to help other teachers think about the ways that they can improve classroom activities following your session.
  6. Other tips:  The Gelfand Center can assist you with the planning, implementation and assessment of educational outreach programs.  We can publicize your event to appropriate educators, manage the registration process and ensure that your program is eligible for Act 48 hours [professional development hours that teachers in Pennsylvania must earn to maintain active teacher certification.]


Keep in mind that the Gelfand Center can help as you plan for Broader Impact plans that are required for NSF proposals. We can also provide guidance for programs that will involve K-12 students.

Please be sure to use a appropriate release forms to collect information from participants in your programs. Please see this example form [.pdf].