VOLUME 16 NUMBER 3
FALL 2015

Boston College's Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE)

Boston College's Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) was established at the beginning of the Fall semester in 2015. As we celebrate our one-year anniversary, we're eager to build on the work we've done this past year to provide increasing amounts of support for faculty and graduate students interested in thinking more deeply about their teaching and improving their teaching practice. In this effort we continue to broaden the work that individuals in Instructional Design and eTeaching Services (IDeS) have done since the early 2000s to support faculty in their use of online, digital, and other technologies in teaching. Former IDeS staff, now part of the CTE, are central in this effort.

Student writing on a white board in a classroom at the CTE

One important element in our programming last year was Excellence in Teaching Day. Over 300 members of the BC community engaged in conversations inspired -- some would say provoked -- by the plenary addresses of Mike Wesch from Kansas State University and Silvia Bunge from the University of California, Berkeley. (You can see these plenary addresses on our web site.)

While I will describe (and even encourage you to participate in) a variety of programs in this piece, I want first to encourage you to email or call the CTE if there's something else you'd like us to offer to the BC community.

One very important part of our programming this year brings together several cohorts of faculty who agree to meet with each other regularly over the course of the year as each of them works individually on a particular project. One such project enrolls 14 faculty who are developing new uses of MediaKron, an online tool developed here at Boston College. Another cohort brings together faculty engaged in the exercise of flipping part or all of courses they will teach next spring. (Many readers know that "flipping the classroom" describes a move in which faculty use some sort of technology to deliver course content before the class and spend class time having students engage with the material, reversing the traditional practice of lecturing during class time and having students work with the material outside of class.) Yet another group of faculty is exploring new uses of Personal Response Systems in the classroom. Though these cohorts have already begun their work and are now closed to new members, we welcome ideas for new faculty cohorts. We are already discussing with the Division of Mission and Ministry and with interested faculty the possibility of a cohort to explore approaches to contemplative pedagogy in the classroom.

We will also be offering other opportunities for faculty to engage each other in discussions of important issues in teaching. We're in the early stages of planning a series of discussions about teaching in the face of diversity and another about effective pedagogical practices in STEM disciplines. And we continue to offer a variety of workshops on Canvas and other technologies BC employs in support of teaching and learning.

Alongside these workshops and other programs for groups of faculty, we continue to offer individual consultations on teaching and course development and on the use of online and other digital technologies in teaching. If you have a particular pedagogical question or strategy you'd like to explore, please feel free to call or email us to set up a consultation.

Center for Teaching Excellence entrance

Of course, we are not working in a vacuum here at BC. There are many -- including both individual faculty and faculty groups (such as the University Council on Teaching, the Academic Technology Advisory Board, the Faculty Technology Contacts and the Faculty Micro Resource Center) and other university groups (such as the University Libraries and the Division of Mission and Ministry) -- who have a vital interest in teaching and learning and who have developed and sustained a variety of teaching-related programs over the years. We are eager to develop even deeper relationships with these and other groups and individuals who want to work with us to support excellent teaching at Boston College. So, as we move into our second year of existence as the Center for Teaching Excellence, we invite you to explore our current programs and -- most importantly -- let us know what we can do to further enrich your teaching practice. You can find us on the web (/cte), email us (centerforteaching@bc.edu) or call us (617-552-3826). We look forward to hearing from you.

John Rakestraw
Executive Director
Center for Teaching Excellence