About the Toolkit

For almost 40 years, the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD) has been empowering faculty to make learning meaningful for students through the application of contextual teaching principles. CORD’s curriculum development philosophy is based on research in contextual teaching and learning that emphasizes the relationship of course content to real-life situations. In other words, teaching abstract subject matter such as mathematics in the context of how it’s applied in the workplace and everyday life. CORD’s professional development programs immerse faculty in contextual teaching strategies, enabling them to increase student engagement through hands-on activities, problem-solving, integrated instruction, and collaborative and project-based learning.

In this toolkit, CORD provides an overview of the cognitive theories that support a contextual teaching approach, outlines its REACT model that promotes five key learner engagement strategies, and provides templates for developing contextual lessons that help students make meaningful connections between abstract ideas and practical workplace applications. Resources for developing integrated, scenario-based instructional projects are also provided to support faculty in their efforts to bring authentic workplace context into their classrooms.