Launched in the fall of 2018, The Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) promotes student-centered success across the entire curriculum by developing and deploying best practices in faculty teaching and student learning.
The Center for Teaching Excellence: What is It?
Heidelberg University is focused on student success. In every classroom, every lab, every study table, every office, that’s our top priority, and it’s fundamental to our core student mission. Launched in the fall of 2018, The Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) promotes student-centered success across the entire curriculum by developing and deploying best practices in faculty teaching and student learning. The Center supports faculty through mentoring, faculty learning communities and faculty development programming. These programs and accompanying tools and resources build a foundation to support faculty as they implement best practices and student-centered teaching in their classes.
CTE’s Key Programs
Faculty Learning Community (FLC)
A Faculty Learning Community is a cohort of as many as 10 faculty members from various disciplines who agree to help each other reconfigure their courses by applying new active learning techniques, best practices and proven experiences. The initial cohort targeted either a course comprised of at least 50% first-year students or a gateway course for a major, and addressed issues such as poor student engagement, lack of student preparation and/or poor student performance.
Year One: Seven full-time faculty members convened six times in the summer of 2018 to revise courses they taught to first-year students. Course revisions were implemented in the fall semester, later assessed and the results presented as part of the spring Faculty Research Symposium.
Outcome: Faculty members reported improvements in student engagement and learning in their courses and every participant either continued or planned to continue the course revisions in future semesters.
Year Two: Nine full-time faculty members will meet in the summer of 2019 to revise gateway courses or courses taught to first-year students. Revisions will be implemented in the fall of 2019, assessed, and results shared at the spring Faculty Research Symposium. Intended Outcome: Improvements in student engagement, learning and success in the participating courses.
New Faculty Orientation
New Faculty Orientation was significantly revised and reorganized to focus on active learning, rather than discussions, as a way to onboard new full-time and part-time colleagues. The goal is to help them:
- feel welcomed into their new Heidelberg community
- get to know new colleagues
- learn their way around campus
- engage with their faculty mentor
- prepare to start the semester successfully
- understand expectations of being
- a faculty member
Year One: 23 colleagues attended New Faculty Orientation, engaging ice-breaker activities, a campus resources scavenger hunt and extended discussions with their faculty mentors.
Outcome: New Faculty Orientation was assessed through a Google survey form, using a 5-point Likert scale. Faculty satisfaction with this program was very positive. New faculty members also provided suggestions to further enhance the program going forward.
New Faculty Mentoring
Taking New Faculty Orientation to the next level, this program was revised with these goals in mind: to improve the quality of teaching, to better integrate new faculty into the flow of the institution, and to help them form relationships with their peers. In small, interdisciplinary cohorts, new faculty members are paired with an established faculty member. Together, they meet in regularly throughout the academic year to discuss, debrief and participate in classroom observations of their teaching by their mentor.
Year One: Thirteen new faculty members participated in New Faculty Mentoring in both large- and small-group settings.
Outcome: Overall, the New Faculty Mentoring program made strides in successfully integrating new faculty members, and was a substantial improvement over previous mentoring programs. Qualitative assessment showed that new faculty members found the program very valuable, as it helped them form connections with colleagues, learn about Heidelberg and the expectations of faculty members, and successfully complete their first year. Quantitative and qualitative assessment data also provided valuable insights for further improvements going forward.
The top priority for the 2018-19 academic year, CTE staff planned and executed a variety of technology trainings, which helped faculty transition to Canvas (the new learning management system). In the fall semester, the staff hosted Canvas 101, Canvas Drop-In hours and an on-site trainer in partnership with Computer, Network and Information Technology staff.
Year One: In addition to Canvas training, the CTE hosted a variety of technology integration workshops, introducing new models around the themes of flipping a classroom, encouraging student engagement and formative assessment. “Tech Slams,” a series of short presentations by colleagues demonstrating cool tech tools they have tried and/or implemented, were very popular. Other sessions included a tech idea share, a co-teaching demonstration and a debriefing session.
Outcome: Overall response to the tech programs was largely positive in providing ideas and helping faculty to better understand when and how to use technology effectively in their classes. Multiple faculty members integrated new technologies into their classes and reported positive results from that integration.
HYPE Career Ready® Faculty Development
The Center took over responsibility for planning and implementing HYPE Career Ready® Faculty Development Sessions, expanding opportunities offered on the monthly HYPE Days. Based on faculty input, topics were tailored to faculty interest. Each HYPE Day Faculty Development program opened with a morning plenary session that addressed a faculty-selected topic and then was followed with afternoon breakout sessions. All of the programs promote best practices and high-impact practices in teaching, support institutional initiatives that promote student success, and encourage faculty to engage in dialogue and reflection about their teaching
Year One: Campus experts and outside speakers presented topics such as technology integration, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), teaching students with disabilities, privilege, and integration of active learning in to current courses. An average of 60 faculty members participated in each of the HYPE Day Faculty Development programs. Outcome: Faculty members said they generally received valuable information to implement into their work with students. The program will be substantially revised to better align with the most effective strategies and approaches in educational development. Going forward, faculty will identify topics of interest and then work in groups to address the topics.
Additional CTE Programs
- Conduct Individual Teaching Consultations
- Establish Campus-wide Academic Advising Training
- Transition to online IDEA Student Surveys
- Develop Course of Faculty Online Teaching
Meet the CTE Team
Dr. Courtney DeMayo Pugno, associate professor of history, was selected to develop, establish and direct the CTE. Courtney joined the Heidelberg faculty in in 2010 and has taught courses on European and World History, including the Classical World, Medieval History, the Renaissance and Reformation, Modern China, the Modern Middle East and a variety of thematic and comparative courses on topics in world history. While serving as the CTE director, she practices what she preaches, remaining in the classroom for two courses each semester.
Instructional Technologist Rebecca Taylor joined Courtney in the fall of 2018 as a CTE staff member. A former high school science teacher, Rebecca blends strong technology expertise and pedagogical knowledge to Heidelberg’s campus. As a Battelle Trailblazer Teacher, she has long had a passion for leading professional development on best practices with blended learning.
“We want to be our best selves in the classroom. If we’re not, how can we expect our students to be?” This is the overarching question asked as part of the Academic Strategic Initiatives for Improvement Plan, which ultimately led to the creation and implementation of the Center for Teaching Excellence. Being their best selves in the classroom requires knowledge and implementation of best practices with highest impact, availability of tools and resources — especially new technologies — for teaching effectiveness, and a mindset of colleagues helping colleagues.
In the 2018-19 academic year, the total number of faculty participants in CTE programming — the majority of them in multiple programs — was 646. For its inaugural year, that’s an exceptional level of engagement and buy-in.
Ultimately, when teachers are empowered to be their best selves, student success is the result. Heidelberg University benefits, too, reaching some important institutional measures of student success:
- increased enrollment
- stronger/improved retention
- an improved 4-year graduation rate
In the world of private higher education, budget challenges are commonplace. Although it is a new resource, we believe The Center for Teaching Excellence at Heidelberg University is worthy of continued financial support. Location and Space Utilization In the short term, the CTE is temporarily located on the second floor of Beeghly Library, which presents some advantages. In the long term, however, the Center would ideally be located near the Owen Center for Academic & Career Support, providing faculty increased access to academic support and advising resources. The two centers are frequent collaborators on programming for faculty and students.
How you can support The Center for Teaching Excellence
Our goal: $1.5 million.
We seek to secure donor gifts of $1.5 million to establish an endowment fund for the ongoing programming and various needs of The Center for Teaching Excellence. Naming opportunities are available. In its first year, The Center for Teaching Excellence has been effective in making substantial progress on a number of key initiatives that advance the mission of optimizing faculty teaching and student learning. With your help, we will support teachers whose focus is on student success at every turn. That’s the Heidelberg core mission.
Every dollar raised will be used to improve the quality of the learning experience for Heidelberg students.
Spinoff from the endowment would fund the following areas of professional development, travel, software and materials:
- Director Professional Development
- New Faculty Mentoring
- Faculty Learning Communities
- Faculty Grants for Teaching Inno vations and Scholars of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Research
- HYPE Career Ready® Day Faculty Development (books, speakers)
- Center Operational Expenses