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Center for Teaching Excellence

Duquesne has maintained and strengthened its historic commitment to teaching. Since 1989, our Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) has helped faculty members and graduate student teaching assistants to excel as teacher-scholars who are deeply invested in learning.

True educational excellence is not just a matter of what content is taught, but how it is taught. Quality teaching focuses on outcomes-the knowledge, skills and values students develop from their schooling. A learner-centered approach engages students, making them active participants in the educational process rather than passive recipients of information. Engaged students become intentional, responsible, life-long learners, equipped with the writing, thinking, collaborative and ethical skills needed to excel in changing workplaces and a changing world.

Such creative teaching requires that faculty members understand and select appropriate pedagogical theories, methods and tools, infusing them into new and existing courses.

CTE is a valuable resource to faculty members who seek to implement innovative teaching approaches. Faculty members deal with publication expectations, funding constraints and scarce available time. Thus, CTE employs a comprehensive approach to instructional, professional and organizational development. Programs are offered in different formats serving the wide range of needs faculty members face at every stage of their teaching careers, including graduate students teaching for the first time, new faculty pursuing promotion and tenure, and senior faculty.

CTE organizes and sponsors more than 50 events each year, starting with annual orientation sessions for full-time and adjunct faculty and graduate student teaching assistants. Each month brings a schedule of new faculty luncheons, workshops, book studies, learning groups, speakers and institutes, culminating every spring in a Celebration of Teaching Excellence, at which annual awards for innovative teaching are presented to exceptional faculty and graduate assistants.

The Center houses and distributes an expansive library of print resources and develops online materials providing instructors at all levels with tools to strengthen teaching and succeed in academic careers.

CTE staff members provide individual, confidential consultations on topics such as teaching, service-learning, outcomes assessment, and the scholarship of teaching and learning, and assist Duquesne's graduate students in preparing for academic careers. The staff offers classroom observations and guides instructors in the use and interpretation of student evaluations.

Workshops and resources can be tailored to specific disciplines. CTE can customize programs on such topics as designing courses and syllabi, lecturing interactively, giving students feedback, developing and grading assignments, and integrating multiculturalism. The Center frequently supports academic committees, providing recent research on best practices in higher education.

CTE also administers mini-grant programs supporting program-level outcomes assessment and promoting multicultural educational initiatives.

CTE programs and services benefit faculty members of all ages and experiences, from senior professors to new Ph.D.s to adjunct professionals to graduate students just beginning their academic careers. The approach is intentionally personal, dynamic and interdisciplinary, encouraging all who engage in teaching to interact with and learn from each other.

Goals and Needs

Strengthen services for graduate students teaching at Duquesne and preparing to become faculty members: CTE provides orientation, workshops, consulting on teaching, and guidance in preparing job search dossiers and teaching portfolios. The Center is piloting an official record of university teaching and related professional experience that will further enhance graduates' prospects. Funds are needed to sustain this initiative, to provide more systematic mentoring of graduate students by faculty, and to offer opportunities for teaching assistants to interact with Duquesne alumni who are successful faculty members at other institutions.

Deepen faculty understanding of teaching and learning through faculty learning groups: This concept, currently a pilot project, brings together faculty members from various disciplines and experience levels to conduct scholarship on teaching and learning which will result in conference presentations and published papers. Support is needed to underwrite travel costs for participating faculty to present their findings at conferences.

Rejuvenate mid-career and senior faculty members through professional development and leadership: A small number of seasoned faculty participate in leading CTE sessions, serving on assessment and award committees, and acting as advisors to CTE staff, but no formal programs currently exist for the more than 250 full and associate professors. CTE seeks to expand its offerings to provide systematic training and opportunities for experienced faculty to provide leadership to their peers and less experienced colleagues.

Provide programs and services for adjunct faculty: While CTE supports full-time faculty and graduate student teaching assistants, more than 500 part-time faculty do not now benefit from its full services. The Center would like to establish an adjunct teaching award program, support travel to conferences on teaching and learning, and make a wide range of programming and resources available to adjunct faculty online through the University's intranet.