Center for Teaching Excellence

The CTE is committed to the values of diversity, inclusion, social justice, and education.

Provost's Office, University of Virginia
Established: 1990

Profile submitted by Michael Palmer

Vision and Goals

The Center strives for excellence in:

  • fostering student learning and effective teaching through creative, innovative, and research-driven approaches, assessments, and technologies;
  • advancing and translating the scholarship of teaching and learning for the classroom and beyond;
  • building and nurturing cross-disciplinary communities and mentoring networks for scholarly exchange around learning, teaching, and professional growth;
  • cultivating life-long learning for current and future faculty at all career stages.

To realize this mission, Center faculty and staff develop world-class programs and collaborate with individuals and units across Grounds and consult with higher education colleagues around the world.

Center/Program Structure

The CTE is a pan university institution that reports directly to the Provost's office. The CTE houses five educational developers, all faculty, and three support staff.

Are there advantages of being structured this way?

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How has this funding structure influenced the undergraduate STEM education programming the center offers?

What are the specific advantages of having a center funded in this way?

What are the challenges?

Has this funding structure has changed over time?

Description of Programming

We are most well-known for our Course Design Institute (CDI), which has served 500+ faculty over the last decade. CDI is a week-long intensive experience for instructors to reconsider the ways in which they design their courses that uses both backward design and integrated design approaches.

We also have a program for new faculty, called Ignite, which meets during the semester following their participation in CDI. The meetings focus on supporting implementation of their designed/redesigned courses.

With a new Assistant Director of STEM Education Initiatives, we are working to develop new programs to support STEM faculty. These include a Teaching Methods for TAs program and an Undergraduate Learning Assistant program.

Successes and Impacts

We have assessed the impact of both CDI and Ignite on STEM instructors' classroom practices and student performance. Observations of 239 STEM undergraduate courses show there are significant differences in the use of student-centered instructional practices for courses taught by instructors who have participated in CDI and moreso for Ignite. We also observed that the gap in % failures for under-represented students decreases for courses taught by Ignite faculty.

We are continuing to assess the impact of our newer programs on instructors, instructional practices, and student outcomes.

Evaluation and Assessment

How does your center demonstrate its value, both in terms of assessing its own programming and responding to external evaluation?

Elements Contributing to Success

Supplemental Materials