The Center for Advancing Teaching at Northeastern has helped me reflect on my teaching practice at a time when I felt certain classroom ideas had gotten stiff. After over a decade of teaching, the ability to discuss my pedagogical process with the highly qualified staff has been refreshing and useful. Even veteran teachers can learn new tricks. I am glad I reached out to them.Northeastern Faculty Member
The Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning Through Research promotes an inquiry-perspective on teaching. To this end, we offer several methods to help Northeastern instructors get feedback on their teaching.
The Center does kindly request at least 2 weeks’ notice for a teaching observation or small group analysis request.
The Center never evaluates teachers, never shares information about individual teachers with whom we work, and vigorously protects the confidentiality of faculty members and teaching assistants. All feedback is intended to be formative in nature.
• The Center does not release the names of individuals who seek feedback services on their teaching except when authorized to do so by the individual seeking the services
• The Center does not release information about a feedback service or even that a service was provided.
• The Center neither makes nor keeps copies of teacher videos except when someone voluntarily donates one to our archives.
Student Evaluation Analysis
Faculty often find it difficult to interpret the numerical results and student comments in TRACE evaluations, particularly when comments seem contradictory or inflammatory. Your colleagues at CALTR can sit down with you to objectively review your TRACE evaluations and point out patterns in responses that can provide constructive input.
At a mutually convenient time, your CATLR consultant can sit in and observe your class and later share his/her observations with you. Observation may be focused on specific issues or more general in nature. CATLR consultants are trained to observe a number of dynamics in the classroom environment, involving both instructors and students.
While observations might provide useful feedback that might shape the nature of the consultation services that we provide, they are also useful when a faculty member is trying out a new approach and would like feedback.
As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video recording of your teaching can be extremely beneficial, providing an image of your teaching from a student’s viewpoint. A CATLR staff member can record a class session and provide the recording to you for private viewing. However, if you would prefer, a consultant can also sit in on the class that is being video recorded and later review the video with you and discuss your observations. In either case, we will host your video for 30 days after the consultation to give you time to download it yourself, after which we will erase it from our account.
Small Group Analysis
(A CATLR consultant) visited my classes and was able to pick up information that was very beneficial to understand and implement in a remedial way. I am very satisfied in that my teaching scores improved tremendously.Northeastern Faculty Member
Small group analysis is a procedure used to gather early and extensive feedback from students. We recommend using this feedback mechanism in the third or fourth week of the semester to allow time to respond to what you learn. At a mutually convenient time, a CATLR consultant will come to your class for approximately 20 minutes. The consultant breaks the class into small groups and asks a few key questions to assess those aspects of the course that students view as benefiting their learning and other aspects that might make it difficult to learn. Students discuss their responses in small groups, taking notes, and then report out to the full class. This procedure enables the consultant to both gather individual student feedback and moderate discrepancies. Your consultant will synthesize the feedback and discuss it with you later.
As more faculty begin to teach online, they recognize the need to develop new skills in communicating with students and managing interactions in the online environment, as well as structuring a course and translating instructional activities for the online environment. Your CATLR colleague can review your online course, discuss your concerns with you, and also conduct a virtual small group analysis.