Individual consultations

In What the Best College Teachers Do (Harvard University Press, 2004), Ken Bain concludes that effective teaching faculty “Have some systematic program… to assess their own efforts and to make appropriate changes” (p. 19). CATL’s consultation services are designed to help all Elon faculty to be systematic and reflective in assessing teaching and learning.

Consultation philosophy

All consultations about teaching and individual courses are formative, voluntary and developmental, and not part of the formal faculty evaluation process. We will consult with a faculty member only at her/his request, and we will share materials generated for the teaching consultation only with the faculty member involved.

In a consultation, your faculty consultant will offer collegial support informed by research on learning and teaching. We will not tell you how to teach, but we will ask questions and explore possibilities so that you can meet your teaching and learning goals.

Consultation topics

Consultation topics range, but often focus on a topic such as these:

  • Assessing and enhancing a class you are teaching right now
  • Creating or revising a course you will teach in the near future
  • Understanding and measuring what your students are (and are not) learning
  • Experimenting with a new pedagogical technique or a different approach to course design
  • Designing multimedia components for your classes
  • Using a variety of high- and low-tech methods to engage students inside and outside of the classroom
  • Making sense of the comments and numerical results from the Student Perceptions of Teaching forms
  • Developing a research project related to teaching and learning
  • Writing about teaching and learning for a specific audience at or beyond Elon, such as pedagogical writing for an annual review, a grant application, a peer-reviewed publication, or a conference proposal

Consultation formats

Consultations will be tailored to meet the goals of individual faculty, using one or a combination of approaches, each of which provides a different set of data for you to use to analyze your teaching and your students' learning:

A consultation can be as simple as a focused conversation about a particular class, teaching technique, technology, or question about student learning. We also might discuss options for how you could gather data from your students about how a class is going right now, so you don’t have to wait for end-of-term evaluations to get some feedback.

Midterm student focus group

We can also provide a more structured way to gather midterm feedback from students. Research on this technique, called a Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID), demonstrates that these focus groups typically lead to more student learning and greater student satisfaction. The process involves setting aside about 20 minutes of class time to allow a consultant to gather written feedback and to talk with students while you are not present. The consultant then meets with you and together you analyze the feedback, discussing how you might respond to the range of student comments generated by the focus groups. To request a mid-semester focus group, please fill out the request form, due by the end of business day on Friday, March 17. We will take requests until then, unless we reach scheduling capacity before that date.

Classroom observation
A consultant can observe your classroom teaching. After the visit, the consultant will discuss with you what was observed; together, you and the consultant can develop strategies for further experimentation and refinement, and identify areas for ongoing reflection. A teaching observation works particularly well if you already have engaged in some analysis of your own teaching, but would like another perspective.

Videotaped analysis
With advanced planning, you can have your class taped and then watch the recording with a consultant. This kind of analysis offers you the chance to observe and reflect on your practice through a different “lens” than when you’re involved in the moment-to-moment teaching process. These must be scheduled in advance to allow for equipment reservation and coordination.

Schedule an appointment

To schedule a consulting appointment contact Sarah Williams in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning at (336) 278-5106 or email

To request a mid-semester focus group and consultation, fill out the request form, by Friday, March 17. (We will take requests until then, unless we reach scheduling capacity before that date.)

Note: if you have a specific question about Moodle or instructional technology, our colleagues in Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT) can provide just-in-time, useful information about various tools and apps. To schedule an appointment, contact TLT at (336) 278-5006 or email Teaching and Learning Technologies also welcomes drop-in questions in Belk Library room 115 on weekdays between 8am and 5pm.