Learning and teaching

In detail

Our support for SU faculty members' learning and teaching practice includes the following activities:

Group consultations

  • Revising program learning outcomes
  • Designing the curriculum
  • Assessing student learning
  • Developing program classroom norms 
  • Curriculum mapping to highlight transferable skills development in a program
  • Creating positive learning environments
  • Creating shared grading criteria

Individual consultations

  • Revising the syllabus
  • Changing or redesigning assignments
  • Developing in-class activities
  • Dealing with classroom incivilities
  • Creating grading criteria
  • Boosting the classroom climate
  • Encouraging group discussion
  • Enhancing student motivation
  • Making the most of classroom diversity
  • Working with non-native English speakers
  • Providing helpful feedback
  • Exploring how students learning
  • Experimenting with new teaching approaches
  • Finding evidence in the literature to inform the work you are doing  

Hear from a Faculty colleague

Assistant professor

"I have always walked away from CFD workshops with new ideas for my classes, and the faculty who run them there make me a better teacher."

End-of-year survey, 2023-24

Classroom observations

The Center for Faculty Development provides formative classroom teaching observations and customized feedback for faculty across the university. All discussions and outcomes are kept confidential; while faculty may choose to share experiences with others, your Center colleagues will not. Ideally, we follow a 3-stage process:

This discussion enables your Center colleague to find out the context of the course, the students and the planned sequence of events for the class, establishes the purpose of the classroom observation for the faculty member, and gives time to sort out any logistical issues which may need to be taken into consideration.

As part of this discussion, you, as the faculty member, can choose which specific aspects of the class you would like the observer to be noting.

Here, your observer will take note of anything relevant to your chosen areas of focus. It is often best if the observer can be left to observe, rather than be brought into classroom discussions, though you may wish to discuss this with your observer first.

This meeting is typically a few days after the observation, allowing the observer time to collate any notes and retrieve helpful information, and giving the professor time to reflect on the session. In this meeting, both parties talk through the requested areas of focus and the professor identifies adjustments or suggestions which they feel may work well in this context for this group of students. It's helpful here to be mindful of the fact that not all examples of "good practice" or "received wisdom" will work in all settings, and that you may want to disregard some suggestions if you feel they would not work for you or your students.

To arrange a classroom observation, simply request a consultation by filling in the form and selecting "classroom observation" in the topics field. Alternatively, you can contact us centrally in the Center for Faculty Development:

Center for Faculty Development T (206) 296-2144 | E faculty-development@seattleu.edu | Loyola 216

Small-group instructional diagnosis

Small-Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID - pronounced like SKID) is a structured interview process offered midway through a term to ask groups of students to identify:

  1. issues that are helpful to their learning
  2. improvements that could be made in a particular course

Using open-ended questions, students are encouraged to create constructive feedback in small groups and then in a full-class discussion, facilitated by a Center for Faculty Development colleague. Discussions and results are kept confidential between the instructor and the facilitator.

The process involves four steps:

  1. The instructor and SGID facilitator meet to discuss the course and goals for the feedback session
  2. The SGID facilitator conducts a classroom interview with students, typically requiring 25-35 minutes of class time, depending on class size
  3. A follow-up meeting to review the students' feedback and discuss strategies for responding
  4. In-class follow-up with students to address the perceptions and concerns expressed in their feedback, in which the instructor also addresses how and why s/he will or will not make specific changes

The most important factor in ensuring that a SGID is successful is that you need to be committed to making adjustments to your course to facilitate student learning.

SGIDs may be appropriate when one or more of the following is true:

  • You aren't sure where or how you should focus your attention in a class, but feel there is room for improvement
  • You express a desire or need to understand student opinions about your course in general or about specific classroom issues
  • You want a method to capture student feedback that does not rely solely on pencil-and-paper rating forms
  • You hope that the process will increase your own or your students' motivation

SGIDs have several key advantages:

  • Students feel their voices have been heard. Students often feel powerless, and are more willing to work with a professor if they believe their needs are of concern to that professor. The SGID process by itself seems to have beneficial effects, even before the faculty member makes changes based on the feedback.
  • It brings back into the group those students with extremely divergent views. Students often feel that everyone else shares their opinions of events that have occurred in class; when they state their concerns to their small group, they may find out that others have interpreted events quite differently.
  • Because the group must agree on a statement to be forwarded to the professor, the anonymity of individual students is protected.
  • Because SGIDs provide more reflective feedback, the information is qualitatively different than that received in end-of-semester ratings.

If you'd like a colleague from the Center or a Peer Consultant to conduct a SGID for you in one of your classes, please contact the Center for Faculty Development at faculty-development@seattleu.edu, and we will make the arrangements.

Please remember to allow time to organize the SGID, and bear in mind that contacting us early in the quarter makes it more likely that facilitators will be available at the right time.

Course evaluation analysis

When faculty receive their student course evaluations, it can often be difficult to make sense of the data and feedback. The Center for Faculty Development offers to help analyze one set of student responses in a systematic way, and will show you how you can do this analysis for yourself for future courses.

This interpretation can then help you identify areas to prioritize, and the Center can provide further assistance in brain-storming, strategizing, and planning for future courses.

If you'd like the Center to analyze your course evaluations for you, please complete an online consultation request.

Please note that these consultations take longer to prepare, so there is typically a delay of at least a couple of weeks between a colleague in the Center receiving your evaluations from you and your meeting together to discuss it.