Hi, I am Claire Major and this web site is meant to tell you a little bit more about me.


I am a teacher with more than three decades of teaching experience in higher education. My early teaching experiences were as a Teaching Assistant and adjunct faculty member, and in these roles, I taught more than forty sections of developmental studies English, freshman composition, and sophomore literature. I also taught across institutional types, including at a large urban community college, a two-year historically black college and university, a two-year technical institution, a public 4-year institution, and a large research institution. Now at the University of Alabama, I teach masters and doctoral level courses in the Higher Education Administration program. I most often teach courses about college teaching, technology in higher education, and reading research in the field of higher education. I regularly serve as a dissertation chair.

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My research interests are in the areas of faculty work, pedagogical approaches, technology for teaching, and online learning. I have authored and co-authored several books, including Learning Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty (with Elizabeth Barkley published by Jossey-Bass), Online learning: A guide to theory, research, and practice (published by Johns Hopkins University Press), Teaching for Learning: 101 Intentionally Designed Learning Activities to put Students on the Path to Success (with Todd Zakrajsek and Michael Harris published by Routledge) and Collaborative learning techniques: A handbook for college faculty (second education, with Elizabeth Barkley and Pat Cross, published by Jossey-Bass). I have also published books on qualitative research methods.

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I share my knowledge of teaching and learning through keynotes, workshops, and webinars. These most often focus on my books in the College Teaching Techniques Series with Jossey-Bass/Wiley and include topics such as student engagement, engaging lectures, collaborative learning, and evidence-based teaching practices.

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AHE 603 College and University Teaching

This course involves intensive study of the issues, policies, and principles associated with teaching in higher education. Topics include history and philosophy of college teaching, internal and external influences on instruction, faculty and students, instructional models and methods, documenting and assessing teaching, and instructional improvement.

  There was a ton of valuable information that we could take and apply to our classrooms (or plan how to apply it to our classrooms). Also, Dr. Major often sought our opinions on different aspects of class, so it felt like a collaborative learning experience rather than knowledge being rained down upon us to absorb.  
  It may not come across in these comments, but this is the best class I've ever had, by the best professor I've ever had (and, I've had some pretty great professors in the past). This course has fundamentally changed how I will teach in the future, which is much appreciated. I truly believe, because of this class, I have improved as a teacher and a person, subsequently, having better prospects for the future. 

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AHE 680 Reading Research in Higher Education

The purpose of this course is to provide students with skills that enable them to understand and synthesize current research in higher education.

  This was one of the best courses I've had in this program. It tied together many of the concepts we've had in other classes. Many "Ah-ha" moments.  
  Probably one of the most valuable courses in preparation for dissertation hours. It's evident that Dr. Major specializes in teaching pedagogy. Teaching is an art form and not everyone has it. She does!  

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Dissertation Advising

I chair dissertations. Lots and lots of them.

The last time I checked, I had served as dissertation chair for 31 students who had completed dissertations and as co-chair for an additional 18 students.

I am also currently serving as chair for 15 students working on dissertations. Because I have so many students currently, I’ve organized students into dissertation cohorts, who work on a timeline and exchange drafts for peer review (see sample syllabus for AHE 699 Dissertation Research   ).

I’ve also posted on my site the information I share with students as a guide to dissertations.


I created the programs detailed below.

The Alabama Community College Leadership Academy

Established in 2000, the Alabama Community College Leadership Academy is a yearlong leadership development program for administrators and faculty members in two-year colleges. The program is designed for those who desire to prepare themselves to take advantage of future senior-level management opportunities. Participants explore solutions to real world problems faced by college administrators.

The Academy features a variety of lectures, seminars, and workshops. These center on the following six curricular themes: Foundations of Leadership, Policy and Governance, Administration and Finance, Teaching and Learning, Student Services and Development, Leadership for Change. As part of the seminars, Academy participants learn from nationally recognized community college educational leaders, University of Alabama faculty and administrators, as well as experts in the State of Alabama.

Executive EdD

EdD in Higher Education Administration Executive Cohort

The Executive EdD is an accelerated EdD program, with a curriculum designed to help students achieve their goals. The program features a format that allows higher education professionals to pursue a dgree without interrupting their careers, a cohort model that facilitates a learning community of professionals from different fields and types of institutions, small classes that encourage peer support, and opportunities to engage with a dynamic and distinguished faculty.

College Teaching Certificate

The Graduate Certificate in College Teaching is a 12-credit (4-course) sequence designed to help graduate students in a variety of professional settings and disciplines who seek to enhance their understanding of teaching and learning issues for adult learners, particularly at institutions of higher education.

Students who participate in the certificate program will have exposure to theory, research, and practice related to the professoriate and to teaching and learning in higher education. The intent of the Graduate Certificate is to assist professionals in responding to the increasingly complex and diversifying social and cultural contexts for adult learners.

Peer Comments

Below are a few comments from faculty about my department chair leadership and my strengths.

  Claire's temperament coupled with her organizational skills make her an excellent department head. Though she has only been in this job a short time, she has shown herself to be awfully good at it. She is the perfect buffer between the department and the Dean.  
  She is caring, fair, hardworking, understanding, thoughtful, and inclusive. She is instrumental to execute policies or preferences from the College. She innovatively resolved problems and conflicts. She is GREAT. She went an extra mile to address concerns of each individual. She developed most comprehensive merit review rubrics.  
  Claire is an outstanding listener. She also does a nice job achieving consensus.  
  She is a good listener and responsive. She is supportive.  
  She has the ability to view and understand various sides of issues. She also has the willingness to listen to and assist faculty.  
  Claire is intelligent and thoughtful. She makes rational and reasonable decisions. She involves faculty in decision making. She listens well. She also deals with email deluge.  
  She has an open door policy. She is willing to listen. She is supportive of personal concerns.  
  Claire is very deliberative and fair. She listens and then makes firm decisions. No drama. And she communicates wonderfully.  
  Claire uses and presents evidence and brings the group into decisions rather than making them, stonewalling requests for information, or favoring one group over another.  


Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty

Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty

Collaborative Learning Techniques is the bestseller that college and university faculty around the world have used to help them make the most of small group learning.

A mountain of evidence shows that students who learn in small groups together exhibit higher academic achievement, motivation, and satisfaction than those who don't. Collaborative learning puts into practice the major conclusion from learning theory: that students must be actively engaged in building their own minds. In this book, the authors synthesize the relevant research and theory to support thirty-five collaborative learning activities for use in both traditional and online classrooms.

This second edition reflects the changed world of higher education. New technologies have opened up endless possibilities for college teaching, but it's not always easy to use these technologies effectively. Updated to address the challenges of today's new teaching environments, including online, "flipped," and large lectures, Collaborative Learning Techniques is a wonderful reference for educators who want to make the most of any course environment.

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Learning Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty


Do you want to:

  • Know what and how well your students are learning?
  • Promote active learning in ways that readily integrate assessment?
  • Gather information that can help make grading more systematic and streamlined?
  • Efficiently collect solid learning outcomes data for institutional assessment?
  • Provide evidence of your teaching effectiveness for promotion and tenure review?

Learning Assessment Techniques provides 50 easy-to-implement active learning techniques that gauge student learning across academic disciplines and learning environments. Using Fink's Taxonomy of Significant Learning as its organizational framework, it embeds assessment within active learning activities.

Each technique features: purpose and use, key learning goals, step-by-step implementation, online adaptation, analysis and reporting, concrete examples in both on-site and online environments, and key references—all in an easy-to-follow format. The book includes an all-new Learning Goals Inventory, as well as more than 35 customizable assessment rubrics, to help teachers determine significant learning goals and appropriate techniques.

This book also provides access to multiple supplementary materials to guide teachers through the seven steps of the Learning Assessment Techniques planning and implementation cycle. College teachers today are under increased pressure to teach effectively and provide evidence of what, and how well, students are learning. An invaluable asset for college teachers of any subject, Learning Assessment Techniques provides a practical framework for seamlessly integrating teaching, learning, and assessment.

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Teaching Online: A Guide to Theory, Research, and Practice


It is difficult to imagine a college class today that does not include some online component―whether a simple posting of a syllabus to course management software, the use of social media for communication, or a full-blown course offering through a MOOC platform. Teaching Online describes for college faculty the changes that accompany use of such technologies and offers real-world strategies for surmounting digital teaching challenges.

Teaching with these evolving media requires instructors to alter the ways in which they conceive of and do their work. They must frequently update their knowledge of learning, teaching, and media, and they need to develop new forms of instruction, revise and reconceptualize classroom materials, and refresh their communication patterns. Faculty teaching online must also reconsider the student experience and determine what changes for students ultimately mean for their own work and for their institutions.

Teaching Online presents instructors with a thoughtful synthesis of educational theory, research, and practice as well as a review of strategies for managing the instructional changes involved in teaching online. In addition, this book presents examples of best practices from successful online instructors as well as cutting-edge ideas from leading scholars and educational technologists. Faculty members, researchers, instructional designers, students, administrators, and policy makers who engage with online learning will find this book an invaluable resource.

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Teaching for Learning: 101 Intentionally Designed Educational Activities to Put Students on the Path to Success


Despite a growing body of research on teaching methods, instructors lack a comprehensive resource that highlights and synthesizes proven approaches. Teaching for Learning fills that gap. Each of the one hundred and one entries:

  • describes an approach and lists its essential features and elements
  • demonstrates how that approach has been used in education, including specific examples from different disciplines
  • reviews findings from the research literature
  • describes techniques to improve effectiveness.

Teaching for Learning provides instructors with a resource grounded in the academic knowledge base, written in an easily accessible, engaging, and practical style.

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Qualitative Research: The Essential Guide to Theory and Practice


This book provides a one-stop resource for all those approaching qualitative research for the first time, as well as those revisiting core concepts and issues. It presents a comprehensive overview of this rapidly developing field of inquiry, cleverly combined with practical, hands-on advice on how to conduct a successful qualitative study.

Written in an engaging and accessible style, the authors break through difficult terminology to guide readers through the choices they will face during research design, implementation, and beyond. Each chapter is then brought to life by an array of relevant, real-life examples from expert researchers around the globe.

Divided into seven sections, this unique text covers:

  • Considering perspectives
  • Acknowledging a position
  • Framing the study
  • Choosing a research approach
  • Collecting data
  • Working with data and findings
  • Writing about the research

A dedicated companion website offers a whole host of additional teaching and learning resources, including additional chapters on publishing qualitative research, sample lesson plans and activities, further case studies, and much more.

From the foundations of the subject through to its application in practice, Qualitative Research: The Essential Guide to Theory and Practice is an indispensable companion for qualitative researchers worldwide.

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Introduction to Qualitative Research Synthesis: Managing the Information Explosion


This book shows how data can be collated together effectively to summarise existing bodies of knowledge and to create a more complete picture of findings across different studies.

The authors describe qualitative research synthesis and argue for its use, describing the process of data analysis, synthesis and interpretation and provide specific details and examples of how the approach works in practice.

This accessible book:

  • fully explains the qualitative research synthesis approach;
  • provides advice and examples of findings;
  • describes the process of establishing credibility in the research process;
  • provides annotated examples of the work in process;
  • references published examples of the approach across a wide variety of fields.

Helping researchers to understand, make meaning and synthesize a wide variety of datasets, this book is broad in scope yet practical in approach. It will be beneficial to those working in social science disciplines, including researchers, teachers, students and policy makers, especially those interested in methods of synthesis such as meta-ethnography, qualitative meta-analysis, qualitative meta-synthesis, interpretive synthesis, narrative synthesis, and qualitative systematic review.

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I can present keynotes, workshops, and webinars on the following topics.

Student Engagement

We have reviewed recent research on motivation and learning and understand that for students to be successful, they have to value learning, they have to expect to succeed, and they have to be active participants in their own learning. For this reason, we share information with faculty about the cognitive principles of learning as well as specific techniques that will motivate students to participate in the learning process.

Collaborative Learning

Decades of research has demonstrated the value of student participation in small group learning. Collaborative learning helps to deepen students’ content knowledge and helps them to achieve higher order thinking skills. Moreover, group learning improves student openness to diversity, and it helps students from a range of backgrounds succeed in the educational endeavor. For this reason, we share information about the research base behind collaborative learning along with tried and true techniques for using collaborative learning in the college classroom./

Learning Assessment

Over the past few decades, calls for accountability have increased. More and more often, faculty are being called upon to provide evidence that students are learning. From having to demonstrate effective teaching in promotion, tenure, and merit decisions to having to document that students are achieving student learning outcomes to assessment committees and outside assessors, faculty need ways to document student learning. We believe that learning assessment should be a natural extension of teaching, and for this reason, we share with faculty our process of learning assessment along with techniques that both promote and document student learning.

Teaching Online

We recognize that teaching online is a unique instructional form. It requires a different way of thinking about what to do and how to do it. And those differences are not simply related to the tools that we employ; they necessarily represent a pedagogical shift as well. In each of our techniques books, we describe how to implement engaging activities, collaborative learning, and learning assessment online. Thus one avenue of our sharing involves reconceptualizing instruction for the online environment.

Where in the World I Have Presented

Comments from Participants

      After Claire’s workshop, I now have new ideas for classroom activities/assessments, and I have a new perspective for how to approach both implementing them and communicating the results to students or external stakeholders.  
      I got lots of ideas for my own courses and great ideas to share with my colleagues.  
      At this workshop, I gained additional tools to incorporate into my daily teaching.  
      At this workshop there was a nice balance between workshop and discussion. I gained several great ideas to take back.  
      Claire is the best keynote speaker we have ever had, and we’ve had some great ones.  
      This session was highly valuable → will be very useful when assisting and supporting faculty/colleagues.  
      Got lots of thoughtful techniques that I should be able to modify for my courses.  
      I learned about very specific techniques and resources.  
      This was the best session we have had. Perfect 5 ratings for the session and the presenter!  
      Claire was great. I would love to have her help our faculty.  
      I learned and used a member of strategies that I can use right away; good resources  
      Claire was great engaging the audience well and answering questions  

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