Office of Teaching and Learning

Transformed teaching for lifelong learning.

North Dakota State University
Established: 2015

Profile submitted by Paul Kelter

Vision and Goals

Creating and sharing best practices to enhance teaching and learning.
The Office of Teaching and Learning believes that good teaching practices support student success and great teachers commit to professional change. We provide an introduction to, and training in, teaching models that enhance student learning. Engaging students in the learning process produces better results.

In addition, we believe:

All students can learn.
All teachers must continue to learn.
We learn together.
There is richness to our differences that make it worthwhile to learn together.
Together we can reinvigorate the teaching mission of North Dakota State University.

Center/Program Structure

The Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL) is operated under the Office of the Provost at North Dakota State University. The current director is Paul Kelter, Ph.D., who operates OTL with a staff of 14. Faculty from a variety of STEM and Education disciplines in four NDSU colleges are affiliated with OTL through their work on funded interdisciplinary grants, outreach projects, and an interdisciplinary STEM Education Ph.D. program.

Are there advantages of being structured this way?
We are relatively independent, nimble, and campus-wide.

Are there particular challenges that result from this structure?


The Office of the Provost provides most staff salaries. Several hundred in-service courses provide income for program development. A five-year, $2.62-million NSF grant provides substantial funding for training over 150 faculty in active learning.

How has this funding structure influenced the undergraduate STEM education programming the center offers?
We focus on teacher training, knowing that the better our faculty teach, the better our undergraduate students learn.

What are the specific advantages of having a center funded in this way?
Flexibility in the face of substantial state budget cuts.

What are the challenges?

Has this funding structure has changed over time?

Description of Programming

OTL provides oversight of two interdisciplinary programs.

The STEM Education Ph.D. interdisciplinary program prepares future college faculty whose research focus is on teaching and learning at the collegiate level and who can successfully teach at the undergraduate/graduate level in their selected science, technology, engineering, or math discipline.

The College Teaching Graduate Certificate provides a structured program in pedagogy for NDSU graduate students from across campus who plan to teach in a college or university. Students study contemporary education research focused on higher education issues, as well as gain experience in the teaching and learning process through micro-teaching modules, field experience, peer observations, and a structured practicum.

OTL also coordinates a variety of outreach projects such as the STEMKids summer camp, Avenues of Scientific Discovery and campus-wide professional development for faculty and graduate teaching assistants.

Over the past 17 years, CSME, which was subsumed under OTL, has coordinated and administrated externally funded grants, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and North Dakota state agencies. Major projects have included an NSF Collaborative for Excellence in Teacher Preparation (CoMSTeP), an NSF GK-12 project, GraSUS, INBRE (NIH), NSF-ADVANCE FORWARD, PERT and NOYCE (NSF), and Instructional Materials Development (virtual worlds) projects with NSF funding.

Successes and Impacts

Our NSF-funded Gateways-ND project is a joint faculty training-research project to maximize faculty's understanding of theory and practice in active learning. The program spans AY 2015 - 2020, and by it's technical end, will have trained over 170 faculty, mostly in STEM fields. OTL staff coordinate over 300 in-service non-transcript-credit courses per year for K-12 teachers.

Evaluation and Assessment

How does your center demonstrate its value, both in terms of assessing its own programming and responding to external evaluation?
Every program has substantial, documented summative assessment. This is especially true for the Gateways-ND project, but is also the case for short training workshops, such as TA training. Every assessment leads to a meaningful evaluation that we use to improve programs.

Elements Contributing to Success

OTL's support staff is responsible for its success. Without these experienced professionals, we could not organize, run, and assess the programs. Reporting directly to the Office of the Provost is also critical to success because of the freedom she gives the office to create and implement. The NSF Gateways-ND project has been so successful because our university's faculty and instructional staff buy into the active learning model of teaching and learning.

Supplemental Materials

NDSU Office of Teaching and Learning Organizational Chart (Acrobat (PDF) 584kB May31 18)