Internal - Faculty & Staff

Consultation Services

Individual Faculty Consultations

The CFE offers individual consultation services to all full-time and part-time faculty members on a wide range of topics related to teaching. Consultations are always initiated by the faculty member and are kept completely confidential.

During an individual consultation, the CFE staff member will seek to understand the faculty member’s goals, teaching context, and overall concerns or questions. During a consultation, the faculty member can “talk through” a tricky situation, brainstorm options, learn how other faculty members have responded to a similar situation, and/or review helpful scholarly literature on the topic. The CFE staff member may offer additional support through a confidential classroom observation, published resources, or a follow-up visit.

Common consultation topics include:

  • Course design and alignment
  • Syllabus development and review
  • Classroom management concerns
  • Integrating technology into teaching
  • Flipped classroom design
  • Engaging students in large classes
  • Collaborative and project-based learning
  • Assessment and grading
  • Scholarship of teaching and classroom-based research
  • Assistance with peer and course evaluation

If you would like to schedule a teaching consultation or would just like to learn more, contact Jennifer to schedule an appointment. We are also happy to meet with drop-in visitors whenever possible, so feel free to come to the CFE at any time.

Formative Classroom Observations and SGIDs

The CFE offers voluntary, confidential services to allow faculty to get rich, detailed, timely, honest feedback on their teaching. We offer two primary services that can be used independently or in conjunction with each other.

Classroom Observation by a CFE staff member is completely confidential and voluntary and designed to be a tool to help faculty improve their teaching. Before the observation, the CFE staff member will ask for information about your course, such as the syllabus, and whether you’d like feedback on any specific area of your teaching or lesson. In a follow-up meeting, the CFE observer will provide feedback, insights, ideas, and suggestions on your teaching.  While we typically follow our own processes for observation, we can also incorporate any instruments or processes used by your College or department, if you’d prefer.

Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID) is a professional development tool that often combines classroom observation with discussion-based student feedback. After a CFE staff member observes a portion of the class, the faculty member excuses themselves from the classroom. The CFE facilitator then invites students to discuss in small groups aspects of the course that enhance their learning experience, suggestions for strengthening the course, and what they, as students,  can do to enhance their own learning.  Feedback is compiled with emphasis on comments deemed most important collectively by the students.  The CFE staff member later discusses the compiled, anonymous student feedback privately with the faculty member. Participants often report that student feedback gathered through this process tends to be more accurate, detailed, and useful than data from end-of-semester form evaluations.

There are a number of benefits to participating in a CFE classroom observation or SGID including:

  • Improving a course while it is still in progress;
  • Demonstrating to students that you are invested in their learning;
  • Uncovering and addressing hidden problems in a course;
  • Receiving feedback on teaching through a “practice run” before a formal evaluation by a peer, chair, or dean;
  • Documenting dedication to improving teaching for possible inclusion in a tenure and promotion portfolio.

New faculty, faculty preparing for tenure review, faculty who wish to improve student teaching evaluations, and those who are considering a course redesign or trying a new teaching strategy may find these services particularly helpful.

Curriculum Development Support

The Center for Faculty Excellence offers customized services that support curriculum (program-level) design, facilitation, and assessment at multiple levels of the institution using evidence-based practices in curriculum development.

CFE can help faculty or administrators charged with curriculum development in many ways:

  • Helping you design an overall process and timeline, based on best practices, for creating a new program or revising an existing program
  • Provide guidance on forming and working with internal and external advisory committees or working groups
  • Assisting in the implementation of the design process, including designing and facilitating specialized meetings, workshops, or retreats for your department or committee
  • Designing and implementing a sustainable process for assessing student learning
  • Coaching you throughout the process

Topics for specialized meetings, workshops, or retreats could include:

  • Applying “backward design” to put learning first
  • Developing program learning outcomes
  • Curriculum mapping (creation and analysis)
  • Creating internal alignment across courses, including embedding “curricular threads” and creating cross-course scaffolding
  • Structuring multi-section courses for common learning goals and consistent quality
  • Incorporating high-impact practices
  • Designing individual courses within the program
  • Developing equitable, inclusive curricula (through both content and structures)
  • Designing a sustainable course-embedded assessment process
  • Using assessment data for ongoing curricular improvement
  • Integrating the review of assessment data into annual department processes

Each design process is unique and depends on the program’s specific needs and context. Most new programs involve support from multiple units at Simmons. During design processes, the faculty lead may also work closely with curriculum committees, Simmons Online (for online programs), the Provost’s office (including for accreditation), and other areas; CFE is one partner in this broader support team.

If you are interested in CFE’s curriculum development support services, or you are interested in a stand-alone workshop on one of the topics listed above, please contact us for an initial consultation. Together, we can determine how CFE’s services can best support your particular situation.