Consulting with CTE

Individual Consultations - The Center for Teaching Excellence provides individual, confidential consultations for faculty and graduate student teaching assistants on

  • college teaching and learning
  • student learning assessment
  • scholarship of teaching and learning
  • successful academic careers
  • teaching award and mini-grant submission preparation

These consultations may range from a brief phone call, single meeting, or email exchange to semester-long work. To arrange a consultation, call 412.396.5177 or send e-mail to

Early Course Evaluation - Students and faculty alike benefit from early feedback on teaching and learning - while there is still time to make changes in the course. Faculty can gather this information on their own and shape the questionnaire to suit their purposes. Samples of early-course evaluation questions are available online or by calling CTE at 412.396.5177. The feedback can be reviewed with a CTE consultant to identify desirable changes in teaching strategy. Remember to keep the focus on successful learning.

Small Group Instructional Feedback - This strategy has been used by faculty and TAs throughout Duquesne. A CTE consultant is invited to the class for 20 minutes. In small groups students are asked to identify the aspects of the class they find most helpful to their learning and to suggest specific changes. The class then comes together as a whole and the ideas from each group are shared; the consultant records only those ideas where there is a consensus. The instructor meets with the consultant to discuss the students' ideas and identify appropriate changes in teaching. The instructor then provides feedback to the students on the findings and often explains changes that result from the student input.

Classroom Observation - A CTE consultant will observe class sessions at the request of the instructor. Faculty request CTE observations, for example, to examine a particular teaching technique, a new strategy, use of technology, time usage, overall student-teacher rapport, student engagement in learning, or a general picture of a class. The instructor determines the focus of the observation.  The consultant will meet with the instructor in advance to discuss the purpose of the observation and following it to discuss what was observed. CTE does not provide a written report of the observation. This observation and follow-up sessions are not part of the faculty peer review process used in the promotion and tenure process.

Program Consultations - CTE personnel provide consultations to deans, chairs, directors, and groups of faculty. For example, chairs and deans regularly request a consultation on curriculum revision and program-level student-learning outcomes assessment. We are happy to tailor resources or a workshop to the needs of a specific group of faculty.

Consulting Guidelines: 

  • Confidentiality: At CTE, we maintain confidentiality when consulting. Here's our rationale: Increasingly, we see teaching as a public act, and we promote openness among faculty and TAs in sharing sound practices and issues they face. We celebrate teaching publicly. That said, faculty and TAs sometimes need a context devoted only to their development as teachers, a space to diagnose teaching/learning problems and explore teaching practices free from evaluation.  
  • Effectiveness: CTE support for faculty and TAs works well when individuals seek it out for themselves. It also is effective when chairs/deans encourage teachers to seek consultation, and they combine this with encouragement and latitude for teachers to make decisions and try new things
  • Time: It takes time to make noticeable changes in one's teaching. Research shows (Weimer, Inspired College Teaching, 2010, p. 53), and former-Provost, Ralph Pearson, acknowledged that when instructors made changes in their teaching (e.g., increase rigor, use new methods) they experienced a one or two-semester dip in student ratings. It takes a while to implement new methods effectively. Thorough peer review of teaching provides the necessary contextualization for P&T dossier evaluators to understand this process. (Not CTE).

Debunking myths:

  • We have not seen success when faculty or TAs are "told" to go to CTE and report back the number and nature of encounters. It is unacceptable for a supervisor to call and ask whether a person has come to CTE, or how often they have come because it is a confidential encounter.
  • We don't "fix" teachers. Faculty and TAs are the agents in their own growth. We offer attentive guidance and resources.
  • We do not provide written CTE documentation to consultees of teaching effectiveness, observations, or consultation conversations. Our role is to support faculty and TAs who seek to improve, not to provide documentation for evaluation purposes. Faculty members can, of course, tell whatever they want from their encounters with CTE. We are told that they often do this with positive effect in annual reports and P&T documents.
  • CTE does not approve documents such as syllabi, assignments, or curriculum. We play a consultative role only.

To arrange a consultation, call 412.396.5177 or send e-mail to