Purposeful Teaching Fellowship

Sponsored by the CFDE and the Emory Purpose Project

Apply now through Sunday, Feb. 4th

The Purposeful Teaching Fellowship is open to all full-time faculty (including tenured, non-tenure track, teaching track, clinical track, and other faculty with long-term appointments).


The Purposeful Teaching Fellowship focuses on developing courses that support student learning and student flourishing. It will help faculty consider what it means for students to flourish in a course and provide concrete strategies to promote this. See below for a description of flourishing in an educational setting.

For students to flourish, faculty also need to flourish, and this fellowship is set up to provide a supportive environment for faculty to flourish in their teaching practices at Emory.

To participate in this fellowship, faculty must have a fall course that they will develop or redevelop and implement in Fall 2024. The fellowship is designed to support implementation as well as development.

Please Note:

The pilot of this fellowship is part of a research study examining ways to improve student flourishing in the classroom and support faculty in this important work. If you are interested in participating in the pilot, you will also be invited to be a part of the research study. Please email Liesl Wuest (lwuest@emory.edu) if you have any questions regarding the study.


  • To bring purposeful course design and pedagogy into Emory classrooms to promote student learning and flourishing.
  • To develop a support structure around teaching to provide faculty with time, competence, and conversation to develop classes where they can also flourish.
  • To provide recognition to faculty commitment to excellent teaching.


  • Friday, March 1st, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Friday, March 8th, 9:00 am – 11:00 am


  • Friday, March 22nd, 9:00 am– 11:00 am
  • Friday, March 29th, 9:00 am – 11:00 am


  • Friday, April 12th, 9:00 am – 11:00 am
  • Friday, April 19th, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm


  • Provide a syllabus and access to the previous Canvas site if applicable that you will be working on to the cohort leaders
  • Provide an updated syllabus and Canvas site to review by June 30th
  • Participate in all sessions in the spring semester (dates listed above)
  • Participate in two (2) check-in sessions while you are teaching in the fall semester
  • Participate in exit interview and/or focus group about the fellowship


  • You will receive a $1,500 stipend deposited into your research/discretionary account for participation in the program distributed upon the completion of specific milestones throughout the fellowship
  • It is anticipated that upon completion of the fellowship, as a fellow there will be ongoing opportunities to be a leader in this work
  • We will also compensate you with food! A light breakfast will be provided each session

Session Topics:

Part I: The Set-up
  • Session 1: Fellowship Overview & Purposeful Course Goals
  • Session 2: Making Connections
Part II: The Learning Path
  • Session 3: Where the Learning Happens
  • Session 4: Weekly/Module Goals
  • Session 5: Content Curation
  • Session 6: Grading & Syllabus


Throughout the fellowship, we will be talking about flourishing and purposeful course design and looking at concrete ways to implement strategies in the course that is being redesigned. Below is a brief introduction of the definitions we will be starting with.

Flourishing is a term that dates back as far as Aristotle and is still being discussed and researched today. Though not the final say on what flourishing looks like in an educational setting, researchers Richard Ryan and Edward Deci describe flourishing through an educational lens below, and we will use it as a starting point to further explore what flourishing looks like and means in a course setting.

“By flourishing, we mean becoming motivated, vital, resourceful, and fully functioning adults. Flourishing individuals feel both empowered and confident in their learning and problem solving and feel a sense of belonging to their schools and their larger human community…

…The promise and hope of school is not only that they enable and enhance cognitive learning and growth in specific subject areas…, but also that they facilitate the development of high-quality motivation, engagement, participation, citizenship, and social-emotional well-being. The capabilities for engagement and self-regulation will likely be more serviceable in subsequent life than any particular facts learned in the schools…they should not discourage, demotivate, or kill the confidence of the students they serve or leave them feeling alienated, reactive, excluded from society, or more antisocial.” (Ryan & Deci, 2017 p. 354)

Course Alignment + Design for Learning + Design for Flourishing = Purposeful Course Design

  • Puts student learning and emotions at the heart of every course
  • Research-based practices in cognitive and skill development coupled with research on ways to promote student well-being and flourishing

Different aspects include providing choices in learning (materials and practice), autonomy-supportive vs. autonomy-controlling environments, and structural elements like grading, evaluation, and mastery. Empirical research shows that the more students feel they have a choice in how they participate in the course, the more perceived self-worth, intrinsic motivation, and cognitive competence they have. Overall, students learn better.

Competence concerns the feeling of mastery, a sense that one can succeed and grow. The need for competence is best satisfied within well-structured environments that afford optimal challenges, positive feedback, and opportunities for growth” (Ryan & Deci, 2020 p. 1).  Competence supports curiosity, exploration, and manipulation—all critical components of learning.


Relatedness, also referred to as belonging, has to do with people feeling socially connected, feeling cared for by others, and feeling significant among others. It also is connected to people giving to others and being part of larger social organizations. A lot of language around flourishing is about connection and purpose—both to other individuals as well as to values and communities.

In course design, social connection is often seen in focusing on building a community of learners through icebreakers and introductions at the start of a semester, facilitated discussions, and group work. However, what is often missing in traditional models is helping students connect the course to a larger purpose. How does it relate to the context of the curriculum? How is it relevant to you outside of class? How can you connect it to community-based or experiential learning like internships that you participate in? (Connecting to purpose also supports competence and autonomy!)