Internal - Faculty & Staff

Programs and Events

The CFE welcomes collaboration with other offices and departments on campus and may offer additional programs and events related to excellence in teaching and the professional development of faculty members in response to requests and recommendations. Please contact us if you have a suggestion or would like to collaborate on a program or event.

New Faculty Orientation

The Center for Faculty Excellence offers orientations for both new full-time and adjunct faculty members prior to the start of the fall semester.

New Faculty Orientation orients full-time faculty members to the Simmons community through two interactive half-day programs that include a “scavenger hunt” campus tour, presentations from offices across campus, remarks from the Provost and key personnel, reflections on inspirational teaching, and a meet-and-greet community reception.

Adjunct Faculty Orientation is an evening event that provides part-time on-campus faculty with important tips for navigating Simmons and a mini-workshop for planning and conducting an effective first day of class. In August 2020, Adjunct Faculty Orientation will be offered as a blended program, including both in-person and online components.

Lunchtime Dialogues

Several times each semester, the CFE hosts dialogues for faculty and staff on a variety of topics related to teaching and learning. Typically led by a CFE staff member along with one or more faculty facilitators, each session includes a brief overview of research related to the topic, examples of application to practice, and a seminar-style roundtable discussion. No preparation or reservations are necessary; please join us for a lively and enlightening talk. Dialogues are held at varying times to accommodate different teaching schedules, and participants can join remotely via GoToMeeting.

Breakfast Bytes of Teaching with Technology

Breakfast Bytes of Teaching with Technology are workshops that highlight emerging research and practical applications of technology to enhance teaching and learning. Participants often have the opportunity to engage hands-on with these components. These workshops are offered through a collaboration among the CFE, Simmons Online, Technology, and other campus departments. Past topics have included Creating Effective Educational Videos, Maximizing Student Learning from Online Class Discussion Boards, Creating Effective Slideshows, and Exploring a Variety of Technologies for Formative Assessment and Feedback. Participants can attend Breakfast Bytes remotely via GoToMeeting.

Keynotes on Excellence in Teaching

The Center for Faculty Excellence brings in keynote speakers on excellence in teaching about once each semester. Each keynote features a nationally-recognized expert who presents on topics related to innovative pedagogy, cutting-edge research, or best practices in college teaching and learning. The keynote presentation is often paired with other opportunities for the Simmons community to engage with the topic, such as a roundtable discussion following the author’s presentation.

Teaching for Inclusive Excellence Seminars

The Center for Faculty Excellence partnered with the Organizational Culture, Inclusion and Equity office and Romney & Associates from 2016-2019 to offer Teaching for Inclusive Excellence Seminars (TIES) to Simmons faculty. The first year of engaging, evidence-based one-day seminars (TIES I) focused on integrating diversity content into course design, creating a respectful, inclusive learning environment, and strategies for facilitating difficult conversations.

Building on TIES I, the second year of seminar (TIES II) focused on inclusive excellence through applying equitable teaching strategies. Faculty discussed challenges faced by marginalized, underrepresented, and other students for whom attention to equitable approaches to teaching and learning is especially important. They then shared and discussed evidence-based teaching strategies and approaches that promote inclusive excellence and equity. Participants also explored the principles of democratic dialogue and their application to equitable classroom discussion.

CFE continues to offer a variety of programs for faculty that focus on how diversity, equity, and inclusion intersect with teaching and learning and collaborates closely with the OCIE office and other partners to offer jointly-sponsored programs on these topics.

STAR Scholars Program

The STAR Scholars program is a structured, year-long professional development and institutional capacity-building program focused on improving equitable learning and student persistence through applying research and best teaching practices related to a specific topic. The STAR Scholars form a cohort of up to eight full-time faculty members with representatives from across the Colleges; the 2019-20 topic is “Educating the Whole Student: Building Community and Autonomy in Learning.” Together, the STAR Scholars explore the year’s theme and apply evidence-based teaching practices to improve their courses through a classroom change project. STAR Scholars also serve as a resource for Simmons on the topic, including designing and delivering professional development programs for their peers. Through this program, faculty can support student persistence, improve equitable learning in their courses, and contribute to the scholarship of teaching and learning. The program includes initial training on the topic, books, ongoing support, opportunities to publish, a stipend, and administrative and financial support for the spring workshops.

Regional Speaker Partnerships

Beyond our involvement with the Colleges of the Fenway, the Center for Faculty Excellence at Simmons has developed partnerships with other institutions’ teaching centers in the greater Boston area. These partnerships allow each institution to share resources and expand opportunities for faculty professional development. Our most active partnerships are with Suffolk University and Boston College.

As part of these collaborations, we are pleased to periodically invite Simmons faculty to attend teaching day-long events, workshops, and prominent keynote speakers at other institutions. We also invite guests from our partner institutions to some of our larger events as space allows, including our Spring Keynote on Excellence in Teaching. Please contact us for more information on upcoming events.

Annual Faculty Writing Retreat

The Center for Faculty Excellence, with the support of the Provost’s office, organizes a private writing retreat each year for Simmons’ faculty members. Support for a variety of types of writing can support the development of disciplinary expertise, encourage research and publication on teaching effectiveness, create more flexibility for teaching innovation, and foster positive relationships among faculty across disciplinary lines.

How It Works

Held each May, the writing retreat is an opportunity to carve out time to jump-start summer scholarship. Participants have plenty of dedicated, quiet, distraction-free time for individual writing.

CFE staff members are on-site for individual manuscript reviews and writing coaching. CFE also provides specialized support for those working on the scholarship of teaching during the retreat.

All writing projects are welcome: participants can develop a work-in-progress, revise a conference presentation for publication, incorporate feedback before submitting an article to a refereed journal, polish a grant application, or perhaps revisit a rejected manuscript.

Faculty Writing Retreat, Cedar Hills Retreat Center

The faculty writing retreat is a three day, two night residential writing retreat held at a private retreat center with plenty of indoor and outdoor space to work. Cedar Hills Retreat Center is just north of Plymouth, MA, and about 45 minutes south of Boston.

Features of the property include:

  • Wireless Internet access
  • Fully-equipped kitchen
  • Walking trail leading to a private beach
  • Single beds in shared rooms; linens and towels provided
  • Dining space for communal meals

The retreat is open to full-time and part-time faculty from all disciplines. There is no cost to attend. Lodging, meals, and supplies will be provided.

Summer Teaching Institute

About the Institute

Each summer, the Center for Faculty Excellence partners with the Office for Postdoctoral Fellows at Harvard Medical School to host a four-day Summer Teaching Institute. Through this partnership, the Institute is open to both faculty from Simmons University as well as Postdoctoral Fellows from Harvard Medical School. The Institute is designed to equip new and aspiring faculty in any discipline to teach courses effectively at the post-secondary level. While the Institute is oriented toward those newer to teaching, all Simmons faculty are welcome to attend.

What You’ll Learn

Broadly, the Institute focuses on four themes: learning theory, teaching methodologies, course design, and application to practice. During the Institute, participants:

  • Read and discuss key ideas from learning theory and learning science
  • Experience and reflect on a variety of evidence-based teaching methodologies
  • Discuss the application of these theories and practices to the discipline
  • Engage in metacognition and reflective practice
  • Apply the backward course design model to lesson development
  • As a team, design and deliver a sample lesson in their discipline based on best practices

What to Expect

The Institute is carefully designed to model effective, evidence-based, engaging teaching practices that are applicable across disciplines. Participants can expect a hands-on, collaborative, and experiential learning environment that includes small and large group discussion, demonstrations of active learning techniques, project-based learning, interactive lecture, and reflection. Simmons faculty facilitators from a variety of disciplines will guide small group discussion and disciplinary breakout sessions throughout the Institute. On the last day of the Institute, participants in disciplinary groups will design and deliver a short lesson, incorporating best practices learned during the Institute. Participants will leave with a “teaching toolkit” binder full of practical ideas, teaching methods, insights, and research.

History and Gratitude

The Institute began as a STEM Teaching Institute for Harvard Medical School’s Postdoctoral Fellows in 2015. In 2016 and 2017, the Institute was supported through a generous grant by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. This grant ensured the continuation and further development of the program and enabled the addition of a Navigating STEM career component and a year-long mentoring program. In 2018, the Institute was expanded and redesigned to prepare faculty to teach in all disciplines and to serve both Simmons faculty and Postdoctoral Fellows.

Thank you to Elizabeth Scott (Biology, Public Health), Judah Axe (Education, Behavior Analysis), and James Gould (HMS) for their leadership, their ongoing partnership with CFE on this project, and their ongoing dedication to the success of this Institute. Thank you as well to the many faculty and staff who have served on planning committees, served as table facilitators, presented techniques, served on a panel, provided administrative support, or played another role in the success of this initiative.

Customized Programs

The Center for Faculty Excellence creates a variety of customized professional development programs on a wide range of topics related to teaching, learning, scholarship, curriculum, and faculty career development. Please contact us if you are interested in collaborating with us or in having us develop or offer a new program or workshop for your department, college, or for all Simmons faculty.

NEFDC Conference Funding

Teaching conferences are an excellent opportunity for Simmons faculty to network, learn from, and engage with peers from other institutions and fields around best practices in teaching. Attendees gain practical, evidence-based ideas from across disciplines that they can then apply to their own teaching. CFE also offers this program to encourage engagement in the scholarship of teaching and learning and allow opportunities for Simmons faculty to present on their own innovative teaching.

CFE currently funds registration fees for faculty participation in the two annual regional conferences of the New England Faculty Development Conference (NEFDC).  These one-day conferences are typically held in November and May/June, are convenient to the Boston area, and include a keynote, concurrent sessions, networking breakfast and lunch, and a poster session with a reception.

CFE emails a call for applications to all faculty in approximately September and February, and funds registration fees on a rolling basis as funds allow. This opportunity is open to any full-time faculty and any current part-time faculty who have taught at least four courses at Simmons. Please contact us with questions about this program.