Consultants work with instructors to implement scholarly approaches to teaching infused with evidence-based instructional strategies.
Faculty Teams, Departments, Programs and Colleges
UITL staff and faculty affiliates consult with representatives of committees, departments, schools or colleges on teaching-related issues, including design and development of a teaching initiative within the unit, curriculum revision, program evaluation, or support for new faculty or graduate teaching associates. They are also able to assist planning and delivery of faculty retreats on peer review of teaching policies and procedures, as well as design of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning or Discipline-Based Education Research and program assessment projects. It is the role of the Institute to assist units in review and use of the research literature on higher education and to share resources from, experiences of, and lessons learned through collaborative work and efforts.
Professional teaching consultants are available to discuss all aspects of teaching, including course design, enhanced classroom techniques, course material development, and documentation of teaching effectiveness. Consultants work with instructors to take a scholarly approach to teaching, informed by research and based on the process of asking questions, gathering data, and planning responses. In many cases, we will work together during an initial consultation to choose among several possible methods for gathering feedback. Examples of ways we might gather feedback include the following:
In-class focus groups
To gather information directly from students in a format that permits interaction, UITL consultants conduct focus-group-style visits to your classroom. The process entails setting aside 20-25 minutes of class time to allow a consultant to gather written feedback and talk with students while the instructor is not present. In the literature, this process is called a Small Group Instructional Diagnosis or SGID (Lenze, 2012). Instructors who choose this method do so in order to be able to make data-driven enhancements to student learning, if necessary (Diamond, 2004).
These focus groups can be held at any time during the semester, but if conducted in the first 3-4 weeks, students are more limited to sharing opinions about the general class atmosphere and what instructional choices they anticipate will support their learning. Many instructors find that the most helpful time to collect focus group data is after students have completed a significant portion of the graded assignments, for example, following a mid-term examination. This allows students to clarify concerns about how their learning is assessed. Weeks 6-8 of a 14-week semester are the most popular time for these visits.
This visit concludes with a face-to-face consultation with the instructor in which we review student feedback and create a plan for discussing it with the class.
Consultants have a modified protocol for online classes and can be invited to engage with students entirely online.
Consultants are available to provide formative feedback on classroom instruction by attending a class session as an observer. The consultant will meet with the instructor beforehand to determine any specific questions that will be the focus of the observation.
Midterm or End-of-course Surveys
Consultants can help construct midterm or end-of-course instruments that can be tailored to course outcomes or to collect specific data/feedback. UITL has a variety of sample forms with suggestions for items and formats that can be adapted for the instructor use. Once an instrument has been constructed and administered, consultants can also assist with interpretation of responses to both custom-designed instruments and standard surveys such as the SEI.
Teaching Portfolio Development
UITL consultants can assist instructors in constructing a teaching portfolio (link is external) or dossier. Teaching portfolios are useful not only for documentation but also for reflection on areas for potential growth.
Typically, a consultant meets with an instructor to discuss the audience for the portfolio, the areas of the teaching process that will be examined, the kinds of information to be collected, and how these materials will be analyzed and presented. Subsequent meetings can be scheduled as needed to refine portfolio components like teaching philosophy and goals, teaching responsibilities, representative course syllabi, teaching evaluation instruments, and course development or teaching improvement efforts. The consultant will assist in the review and organization of materials to be included in a teaching portfolio to assure that it represents solid evidence of instructor effectiveness.
Diamond, M.R. (2004). The usefulness of structured mid-term feedback as a catalyst for change in higher education classes. Active Learning in Higher Education, 5(3), 311-323.
Lenze, L.F. (2012). Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID). In K. T. Brinko (Ed.), Practically speaking: A sourcebook for instructional consultants in higher education (pp. 46-52). Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press, Inc.
Graduate Assistant Teaching Award Nominees
Nominees are invited to attend one of the GATA informational meetings run by the Graduate School and the University Institute for Teaching and Learning in December and January and to take advantage of individual and electronic consultations.
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