Inviting Faculty

Dear Faculty,

EPI and Grand Challenges are excited to invite you to participate in STEPP (Student-Teacher Engaged Pedagogical Partnership) for the upcoming Spring 2023 semester. A STEPP partnership is designed to provide you with an opportunity to reflect on your pedagogy, receive constructive feedback, and work collaboratively with your student partner to address your teaching goals. Most crucially, student partners are trained to work constructively on the goals that you set. STEPP is entirely confidential and no aspect of it is shared with the Dean of Faculty, FASC, or with anyone else on campus.   

If you have participated before but decided to take a semester or two away from the program, please note that you’re welcome to re-register at any time. We also encourage new faculty to try the program out at least once, as many find it revitalizing and very useful for understanding the student perspective in a way they haven’t been able to before. Please read here for more information and if you would like to participate, please fill out this form by December 17th, 2022

What is STEPP?

STEPP is a partnership between a professor and a student over a semester centered on teaching and learning. Your student STEPP partner will be focused on hearing your pedagogical goals and then offering observational feedback from the classroom. Your student partner will attend one of your classes each week, take observation notes, and make reflections, all of which will be confidentially shared back with you weekly so you can hear a student perspective on your class. Your student partner may not have your content expertise, but their disciplinary background will bring a unique perspective.

With your student partner, you’ll be able to develop areas of your teaching you want to focus on during the semester. Student partners can help brainstorm, offer supportive perspectives, help you think through issues of equity and inclusion in the classroom, and gather midterm feedback. Working with a student in partnership offers you a new lens through which to view your classroom, understand student dynamics, and be affirmed in your work. 

History of STEPP at Vassar

STEPP began at Vassar as an EPI pilot in the Spring 2020 semester and has continued through 2020-21 with faculty from EPI and Grand Challenges. Thirty-five faculty from a wide range of disciplines have participated thus far (see below). Faculty who participated in STEPP have found the experience to be extremely positive as a way to reflect on their teaching practices and to develop valuable relationships during this difficult semester. As a faculty partner described, “Teaching tends to be a very solitary activity with little regular feedback . . . so getting to work with someone regularly to debrief how the class is going is really helpful.” 

Previous faculty participants: Colin Echeverría Aitken, Ming An, Leonisa Ardizzone, Leah Bendavid, Edward Buie II, Amy Chin, Randolph R. Cornelius, Carollynn Costella, Mary Ellen Czesak, Nicholas de Leeuw, Domenic DeSocio, Curtis Dozier, David Esteban, Katie Gemmill, Peter Gil-Sheridan, Kathleen Hart, Laura Haynes, Jingchen (Monika) Hu, Myra Hughey, Gisella Kagy, Augusto Hacthoun, Jonathon Kahn, Alison Keimowitz, Jennifer Kennell, Gretchen Lieb, John Long, Adam Lowrance, Haohao Lu, Jenny Magnes, Krystle McLaughlin, Juan Merlo, Osman Nemli, Lori Newman, Sarah Pearlman, Eva Woods Peiró, José G. Perillán, Nancy Pokrywka, Rebecca Pollet, Eréndira Rueda, Paul Ruud, Colette Salyk, Peter Olaf Sandusky, Tanseli Savaser, Jodi Schwarz, Candice Lowe Swift, Catherine Tan, Jason Waterman, Jackie Villasden, Yu Zhou.

Further Details of STEPP

Your participation in STEPP would

  • begin with a short orientation before classes start. 
  • continue with the weekly meeting you have with your student partner. 
  • and include optional and occasional STEPP faculty-only meetings to check in with each other. 

Your student partner in STEPP would

  • attend an orientation before classes start.
  • attend weekly student-only meetings facilitated by a member of the STEPP team.
  • will not be taking your class for full credit, but will be compensated with 0.5 units of independent research in one of your academic disciplines. Or if your program/department does not allow this, students will receive 0.5 units of CLCS credit.
  • attend your lecture or lab once per week for a maximum of 4 hours of work between all responsibilities.

If you are interested in participating, please fill out this form by December 17, 2022.  We will recruit a student partner and train them for you. If a specific student would like to partner with you, you can include their name in the form. 

Check out our website and please don’t hesitate to email Jules Cianciotta (2024) <>, Jonathan Kahn (EPI) <>, or José Perillán (Grand Challenges) <>  with any questions. We hope you’ll be able to participate.


The STEPP Team: 

Jules Cianciotta, Student Coordinator of STEPP

José Perillán, Associate Professor of Physics + STS, Faculty Director of Grand Challenges Program

Jonathon Kahn, Professor of Religion, Director of EPI