Campus-based Educational Development & Professional Learning: Dimensions & Directions

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Executive Summary—Purposes and Outcomes

Why might educational development or professional learning be supported by post-secondary institutions?


To respond to this question, we synthesize composite purposes and outcomes that emerged from the data provided by the comprehensive range of British Columbia public post-secondary institutions participating in this campus-based educational development and professional learning study. Institutions that implement teaching and learning enhancement initiatives will benefit in differing ways. Institutional context, mandate and vision will influence the specific structures and practices of campus-based educational development and professional learning programs.

Enhancing high quality learning environments with engaging learning experiences in which post-secondary learners achieve significant learning outcomes

Enhancing high quality learning environments is the over-arching purpose for all educational development initiatives. To accomplish this purpose, educational consultants most often work directly with post-secondary administrators, staff and faculty, who then work directly with learners.

Providing preliminary support as newly minted faculty members launch their post-secondary teaching careers

New faculty members may be veterans of industry or the workplace who are transitioning into academic careers, younger faculty who have completed academic degrees often with limited teaching experience, or they may be those who have extensive teaching experiences in the K-12 system or in community teaching roles. Whatever their prior experiences, the transition into post-secondary academic teaching may be an eye-opening and even traumatic experience. Educational consultants provide guidance and models during these early stages of the academic career to enhance an educator’s transition into post-secondary teaching and learning responsibilities.

Providing catalysts and challenges for mid-career faculty members

Mid-career educators may have effectively mastered the preliminary responsibilities and practices for the post-secondary teaching environment and are now seeking ways to further enhance their capabilities. Educational development consultants encourage and support mid-career faculty by offering them opportunities to share literature on teaching and learning in higher education, research their classroom practices, or share their emerging teaching and learning strengths through conference sessions or institutional workshops.

Providing venues for veteran faculty members to share their wisdom of practice

Leaving a legacy is often a consideration of those in advanced career stages. Sharing the learning and wisdom garnered from many years of extensive teaching and learning experiences, perhaps through mentoring programs, may be coordinated through a teaching and learning centre. Faculty Associate roles offer opportunities for mid-career and veteran faculty members to share their knowledge of effective teaching and learning practices with colleagues.

Coordinating or partnering to provide a range of cross-career support for administrators and support staff

Institutional mandates for professional learning may be inclusive of all within the institution and therefore many educational developers are actively involved with relevant leadership or career advancement initiatives for administrators and support staff, as well as for faculty members.

Providing or coordinating teaching and learning support directly needed by students

Several of the participating institutions define the mandate of educational developers as inclusive of student needs that are specifically related to teaching and learning. Therefore, student support services such as Writing Centres, Math Centres or Graduate Teaching Assistant programs are being integrated within educational development centres.

Participating actively in a range of institutional strategic planning processes and initiatives

Many educational developers network with their colleagues within British Columbia, across Canada and internationally. Therefore, they have access to relevant teaching and learning innovations and approaches that may effectively inform institutional strategic planning. Learning consultants provide timely reviews of alternative practices, challenges to existing processes, and syntheses of relevant teaching and learning literature.

Promoting the significance of teaching and learning initiatives within and beyond the institution

A significant and often escalating factor influencing institutional culture is the perceived tension between research and teaching. To move beyond this tension, educational consultants offer perspectives and expertise for establishing the nexus between teaching and research while encouraging initiatives that value and reward teaching. Educational developers provide institutional, provincial, national and international leadership on a range of teaching, learning and research initiatives.

Partnering with or coordinating curriculum development, program review, Senate or Education Council program or course review processes

Educational consultants may provide expertise and a network to effectively support, implement or enhance curriculum review and (re)development processes as well as provide expertise during the Senate or Educational Council program and course approval processes.

Providing leadership for institutional teaching and learning initiatives

Educational consultants offer expertise and leadership for developing, evaluating, and monitoring institutionally mandated initiatives designed to enhance the teaching and learning environment and perhaps challenge existing practices. They may provide expertise and leadership to institutional teaching and learning initiatives, such as Internationalizing the Curriculum, Aboriginal Education, Learning Outcomes and E-Learning initiatives.

Encouraging inter- or cross-disciplinary approaches that explore common ground and differences

Inter- and cross-disciplinary discussions about teaching and learning questions often evoke realizations of common ground and shared dilemmas as well as substantive disciplinary differences in, for example, key learning concepts and approaches. Learning consultants may create opportunities for these types of inter- or cross-disciplinary explorations.

Honouring discipline-specific teaching and learning approaches

While there are many shared practices across disciplines, there are educational concepts and ways of organizing learning that tend to be discipline-specific. Educational consultants may help structure this focus on pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 2004a) and signature pedagogies (Gurung, Chick & Haynie, 2009).

Encouraging reflection and research on teaching and learning

Cogent and thorough syntheses of national and international research on post-secondary teaching and learning identify emerging research questions and distil effective practices. One example is the edited text of Julia Christensen Hughes & Joy Mighty (2010) Taking Stock: Research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Ready access to this evolving research literature is enhanced through online and print journals, such as Transformative Dialogues, the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and Teaching & Learning Inquiry: The ISSoTL Journal, among many fine higher education teaching and learning publications. Educational consultants initiate opportunities for higher education personnel to delve into this research literature and to reflect on applications within specific disciplinary or cross-disciplinary teaching and learning contexts. Learning consultants may encourage and support individual and collective action research or scholarly investigations to examine classroom teaching and learning dilemmas and successes.

Navigating the Study

To assist your investigation of campus-based educational development and professional learning, this report may be read chronologically or as free-standing chapters. The report begins with definitions of key terms, followed by a précis of research methodology to establish the context for data gathering, analysis and synthesis. Next, a conceptual framework is presented that synthesizes key dimensions of campus-based educational development.

Subsequent chapters provide detailed examinations of structures of educational development: models and staffing, director’s roles, reporting lines, advisory committees, personnel and faculty associate models, funding, and physical location of educational development units.

The report then examines educational development practices: mandate, needs assessment, priorities and planning approaches, educational development initiatives, professional development specifically for administrators and staff, professional learning networks, communication, and evaluation of programs.

Specific directions influencing the future shape of educational development are then investigated, including consultation and mentoring, e-learning, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and leadership for learning. Emerging directions and dilemmas are outlined that create future avenues for applications of research to enhance professional learning.

Key Terms—Naming the Rose

Campus-based teaching and learning enhancement initiatives in Canada are demonstrating exciting and challenging growth, which is accompanied by an evolution in terms naming these initiatives: professional development, faculty development, academic development, instructional development, organizational development, educational development and professional learning.

In many ways these terms act as synonyms with similar purposes and they are sometimes used interchangeably. On the other hand, these terms privilege different types of mandates, structures, and actions. While acknowledging that all these terms have strengths and weaknesses, it is important to investigate their implications within the current BC post-secondary environment. What are the differences and similarities? Which ones better fit the context of current outcomes of campus-based post-secondary teaching and learning enhancement initiatives?

Campus-based locates the context for this study within the post-secondary system of universities, institutes and colleges. A multitude of professional development opportunities are offered by off-campus academic and professional organizations and increasingly through online commercial and academic providers, all of which offer potentially valuable learning opportunities. Professional development and teaching and learning practices and literature originating in the K-12 system are bridging to and informing post-secondary investigations. However, the focus of this study is specifically on educational development and professional learning initiatives organized within college, institute and university campuses.

Professional Development (Chism & Whitney, 2005) is an umbrella term, applicable to any career area, which encompasses the processes of obtaining and enhancing capabilities, certifications and experiences that enable professionals to progress in their careers through enhancing both professional and personal capabilities. Within the post-secondary environment, professional development implies the dual notions of the individual taking responsibility for enhancing both personal and professional capabilities as well as the higher education institution providing structure and practices in support of teaching and learning enhancement initiatives. It is the second inference that propels questioning of the term ‘development’ as it may carry the perception of ‘developing others’ within a superficial learning environment (Webster-Wright, 2009). The comprehensive nature of professional development encompasses the entire continuum from transmission to transformative learning opportunities. Depending on the context of participants, there may be need for this full range of learning opportunities. The term also has significant longevity and impact. For example, for more than two decades the post-secondary network from which this research project emanated has applied the concept of professional development in their title: University, College and Institute Professional Development (UCIPD) Committee.

Faculty Development is a traditional term widely evident in the post-secondary professional development literature (Schroeder, 2011; Ouellett, 2010; Gillespie & Robertson, 2010). Faculty development carries the rather delightful impulse of developing one’s faculties or thinking abilities. This term focuses the realm of activity within those designated as faculty members, principally those people within the institution who have direct teaching or teaching-related positions. Faculty development encompasses a significant range including institutional and instructional approaches, curriculum development, assessment strategies as well as personal development. The term accurately describes and defines many campus-based professional development programs as their focus, by mandate, is almost exclusively for those with direct teaching and learning responsibilities. Instructional development is a sub-set of faculty development with a focus on “activities specifically connected to enhancement of teaching” (Wilson, 2012, p. 2). Faculty or instructional development therefore may be perceived as being exclusive, in that administrative and support staff, and those not directly involved in teaching, appear to be excluded or have a much lower priority in determining mandates and priorities. Those institutions where there is a defined and institution-wide mandate for teaching and learning enhancement initiatives often elect to apply a more inclusive term.

Academic Development (Blackmore & Blackwell, 2006) puts the spotlight on the teaching and learning functions of the post-secondary system. One argument in support of this term is that all forms of learning are academic. Therefore, academic development applies to all within an institution of learning. On the other hand, for those universities, institutes and colleges that provide comprehensive programming including applied, vocational, adult basic education, and non-credit programs, the term ‘academic development’ may imply an exclusion of these equally worthy programs.

Organizational Development (Diamond, 2002) encompasses a wider vision of processes related to planned, strategic institutional development designed to enhance the organization’s effectiveness and viability. Organizational development, within the post-secondary environment, most frequently is evident within the strategic academic planning processes that guide short and longer-term decision-making related to teaching and learning issues. As is demonstrated by the findings of this study, post-secondary professional development units increasingly are being located at the centre of organizational and institutional change, due to growing acknowledgement of their institutional expertise relevant to leadership for learning.

Educational Development (Tiberius, 2001) is the term that Canadian professional developers, forming a sub-group caucus of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE), decided to apply to their work. An argument may be made that all development is educational in purpose and action. Educational development subsumes the concepts of faculty, professional, institutional and organizational development and therefore is an encompassing term.

Professional Learning is an emerging term (Webster-Wright, 2009) that highlights the evolution of teaching and learning enhancement initiatives. Professional learning incorporates the growing body of literature describing how people learn (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000; Ramsden, 2008; Kuh et al., 2005a; Entwhistle, 2010). Professional learning is interconnected with the notions of communities of practice which are “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wenger, 2006). Professional learning focuses on incorporating reflective opportunities, as well as scholarly teaching and learning literature within and across disciplinary communities of practice or faculty learning communities (Cox & Richlin, 2004) to foster individual, group or institutional change processes.


To ‘name the rose’, study researchers will apply the term Educational Development (ED) to centrally organized teaching and learning enhancement initiatives that encompass personal, professional and institutional development. Faculty Development (FD) will signify a narrower focus primarily associated with individual and professional development of faculty members. Professional Development (PD) focuses on personal and career development and is applicable to all across the educational community. Professional Learning (PL) signifies emerging directions towards learning communities and networks. The researchers elected to use these terms to:

  • create a longitudinal connection, at the system level, with the 2000 Campus-based Professional Development study (Morrison & Randall, 2000);
  • emphasize the ‘big tent’ nature of campus-based initiatives to enhance teaching and learning; and
  • acknowledge the evolving nature of campus-based professional learning with a greater emphasis on professional dialogue within and across collegial networks.

Terms to describe the physical and online locus for educational development have many permutations: Learning and Teaching Centre, Centre for Academic Growth, Educational Support and Development Centre, Centre for Academic and Faculty Development, Centre for Instructional Development, and Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning, to identify a few of a very long list of centre titles. For consistency and to respect the confidentiality offered to study participants, study researchers will apply the term Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC), which subsumes both the physical and online identity of educational development units. We acknowledge that the term staff has differing meanings in international contexts. For this study, the term staff is applied to those in roles such as technician and administrative assistant who may not work directly with students but who make immense contributions to the quality of students’ education.

Active educational development-related organizations are operating in the BC and Canadian higher education environments. Acronyms abound. To clarify organizational purposes and names, we have updated an inventory initially created by Alice Macpherson (2011) and include it as Appendix 6.

Study Design


The primary purpose of this research is to investigate how a comprehensive range of British Columbia (BC) post-secondary institutions implement campus-based educational development or professional learning initiatives. The intent of the study is to gather and share models and concepts to inform institutional and inter-institutional discussions to further enhance educational development and professional learning opportunities available within and across BC post-secondary institutions.

Given that many of the educational development structures and practices examined in this study are evident across Canadian and international campus-based contexts, there may be applicability of these findings well beyond the BC higher education context. As an Open Educational Resource, we encourage further extension and application of the conceptual frameworks and models developed in this study, with attribution as noted in the introductory Acknowledgements section.

Selection of Study Participants

The 25 British Columbia post-secondary publicly funded institutions were invited to participate in the study. Representatives of 21 BC post-secondary colleges, universities and institutes responded to study questions. Individuals participating had full or partial responsibility for organizing campus-based educational development.

Participating institutions reflect the full spectrum of institutional types, sizes and geographic areas in British Columbia. Nine of these institutions are primarily two-year colleges. Two are institutes providing a range of undergraduate and post-graduate programming. Ten participating universities provide undergraduate and graduate programming. Of these ten universities, five provide graduate or doctoral programming and five are primarily undergraduate universities.

Based on institutional website information, approximately twenty percent of the institutions had less than 2,000 full time equivalent (FTE) students. Sixty percent were mid-size institutions with between 2,000 and 10,000 FTE students. About twenty percent were larger institutions with more than 10,000 FTE students. All participating institutions provide e-learning options in addition to their geographic campus base. The 21 British Columbia post-secondary institutions participating in this study are listed in Appendix 1.

Research Design

The central research question posed is: What are current institutional models for campus-based professional development across the British Columbia post-secondary system?

The study question is informed by a comparative study conducted in British Columbia’s post-secondary system (Morrison & Randall, 2000) and by the experiences of Nancy Randall and Penny Heaslip, the lead researchers of the current study. Both have extensive experience as directors or coordinators of campus-based educational development centres in British Columbia. National and international literature related to post-secondary educational development was consulted.

Study design and questions were reviewed to determine their application in a longitudinal comparison, at the system level, to the British Columbia 2000 campus-based professional development study (Morrison & Randall, 2000). Similar questions were posed in both studies for these dimensions: organization, funding, personnel, reporting lines, mandates, involvement in strategic planning processes, physical and online locations, needs assessment, priority-setting, communication, evaluation processes, PD opportunities for administrators and staff, as well as institutional, regional, national and international PD networks. To investigate educational development directions that emerged more strongly subsequent to the year 2000 study, questions relating to the following areas were added: mentoring, scholarship of teaching and learning, e-learning and leadership for learning. To review the complete set of study questions, please refer to Appendix 2.

Research Methodology

The study is a scholarship of educational or academic development inquiry (Haigh & Naidoo, 2007; Brew & Jewell, 2012; Felten et al., 2007) as it is a systematic investigation of ED structures and practices in higher education with the intent of enhancing institutional practices which may ultimately enhance student learning. The study was conducted through an action research data gathering process (Sagor, 2000; Reason & Bradbury, 2006). As action research, the process and outcomes of this research project are intended to be of value to the research participants, and beyond to those engaged in any aspect of post-secondary educational development. The two principal researchers were in the role of “involved observers” (Bell, 2006, p. 54) or as participant-researchers as both had directed higher education teaching and learning centres within the BC post-secondary system prior to commencing this study. The study is within the collaborative action research tradition (Kirby, et al., 2006, p. 31) as the team of researchers worked within the community of British Columbia educational developers. Research participants collaboratively provided an extensive data set which was intended to enrich the learning and professional roles of all participants.

Data gathering and analyses were guided by an interpretivist epistemology (Schütz, 1967) through the principles that the reality we perceive is socially constructed and that we cannot separate ourselves from what we know. The study is framed from an appreciative perspective (Cooperrider, 1990; Bushe, 2001; Cockell & McArthur-Blair, 2012) as an inquiry that illuminates areas of strength, considers issues and dilemmas, as well as identifying developing directions. Development of the educational development dimensions conceptual framework was informed by the dimensions identified in the Morrison and Randall (2000) study as well as the dimensions framework created by the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning undergraduate research consortium, as documented by Beckman and Hensel (2009). Researchers invited study participants, and others engaged in professional learning roles, to review and provide their perspectives on the penultimate version of conceptual frameworks and study outcomes.

During phase 1, research ethics review committees at the University of Northern British Columbia, Vancouver Island University and Thompson Rivers University reviewed and approved study design and questions. Anonymity for all participating institutions and representatives was provided as a component of the research ethics review process.

In phase one, data gathering was implemented through an online data response system. During phase one, eleven institutions provided responses. The research team determined that the online response system worked well for some participants; however, it created barriers for others. Further, it was determined that the eleven institutional responses did not constitute a sufficient sample of the 25 BC post-secondary institutions.

During phase 2, study questions remained identical to those in phase one. A minimal change in data-gathering was requested and approved through the research ethics boards of Vancouver Island University and Thompson Rivers University. The minimal change was that institutional representatives completed their responses on a Word® document and forwarded their responses to the study researchers, who then compiled the full database of responses.

Three participating institutions submitted their data in the latter part of 2009. Eighteen participating institutions submitted their study responses during the 2010 and 2011 academic years. In total, 21 institutions of the 25 BC post-secondary institutions participated. At an 84% response rate, this is considered to be a comprehensive sampling of BC post-secondary institutions, representative of the full range of institutional types, sizes and geographical contexts.

All original data were coded by number. Institutional names and identifiers were removed. The two principal researchers independently analyzed specific questions, reviewing key information and determining emerging patterns. Draft summaries for each question were prepared. Then the two researchers met via online Skype meetings to compare emerging themes and patterns and to analyze more deeply the extensive data set. Several face-to-face meetings were held to review emerging directions.

Lead researchers analyzed data, summarized findings, identified cogent direct quotations, and reviewed the most effective means of visually presenting findings through graphs and word charts. Descriptive categories for the over-arching conceptual framework of educational development dimensions emerged from in-depth analyses of the extensive institutional ED descriptions. At this stage, Diane Morrison, who was co-researcher on the 2000 Campus-based Professional Development study and who has a breadth of knowledge and involvement in professional learning, began to participate in discussions to strengthen the longitudinal aspects of the study. Alice Macpherson of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, who was in the midst of completing an educational development doctoral thesis, offered to share her extensive research on Canadian campus-based faculty development milestones, academic developers as change agents, relevant references, and an inventory of Canadian and international educational development organizations.

Reporting back key purposes and outcomes to study participants resulted in valuable feedback and recommendations that were incorporated into the final study. Six webinars were organized by BCcampus in the SCoPE community (see Appendix 6) with lively feedback from multi-national participants. Participant feedback prompted further clarification of key points. As required by the research ethics review process, original data were destroyed at completion of the research analysis stage.

Three online Skype professional learning sessions were organized at the request of a Ghanaian polytechnic to review the educational development dimensions conceptual framework and the statement of educational development purposes and outcomes. Positive responses to these online discussions provide some evidence that the study may have applications well beyond the British Columbia context.

Study Limitations

Context for this study is the British Columbia higher education system. Statistical data are specific to the BC post-secondary system, providing an illustration of current educational development as well as comparative data, where relevant, to the year 2000 campus-based PD study. Statistical data also provide baseline findings for a future longitudinal study, should a similar study be implemented in another decade. Models, conceptual frameworks, flow charts and domain inventories may have applications in other educational settings. Readers are encouraged to consider potential transferability and make decisions about applicability of study models and conceptual frameworks in their own contexts.

Because of research ethics conditions, institutional names and identifiers have been removed. Though this may be seen as a limitation to sharing practices, the benefit is that the focus of this study is on models, conceptual frameworks, and exemplars which do not shift as quickly as specific institutional practices.

The initial online survey method of data collection proved to be a barrier for some participants. However, the minimal change in data gathering to Word document submission enabled a strong and representative sample of participating institutions.

Several of the participating institutions were engaged in significant change processes during and subsequent to the study, and that is reflected in the findings.

This study surveys the state of educational development and professional learning across a post-secondary system and includes data from nine colleges, two institutes, and ten universities, of which five offer undergraduate programs and five also offer graduate or doctoral programs. This may be both a strength and a limitation. The strength is that this study provides a comprehensive overview of the current state and emerging directions of educational development and professional learning at a system level across a matrix of post-secondary institutions. A perceived limitation may be that study findings, across the participating colleges, institutes and universities, are amalgamated. Specific data for each of the institutional types are not reported separately. Researchers considered this potential limitation carefully. The factor of institutional type alone did not determine definitively the shape of educational development and professional learning. Many contextual factors influence a specific institution’s educational development and professional learning initiatives including evidence of commitment to teaching and learning enhancement initiatives, personnel, leadership for learning, budget, size and mandate.

Dimensions of Educational Development Structures and Practices

What are key educational development dimensions? What do these significant elements or dimensions look like in practice? Dimensions of educational development were informed by the campus-based year 2000 study (Morrison & Randall, 2000) along with review of relevant educational development literature (Amundsen et al., 2005; Amundsen & Wilson, 2012; Colbeck et al., 2008; Levinson-Rose & Menges, 1981; Dearn, 2005; Ouellett, 2010; Rice, 2007; Scarfe, 2004; Sorcinelli et al., 2006; Stes et al., 2010; Tiberius, 2001; and Wilcox, 1997). Researchers also consulted academic literature that bridges the K-12 and post-secondary professional development environments, for example, Bransford, Brown & Cocking (2000) and Guskey (2002). The emerging conceptual framework of educational development dimensions was also informed by the researchers’ prior active engagement in post-secondary educational development.

For each educational development dimension, study authors reviewed study findings, identified patterns or categories, and then created descriptions of the range of permutations or stages, as represented in the dimensions of educational development conceptual frameworks (Figures 4.0 and 4.1).

Descriptive categories are weighted equally and any of the descriptive categories may be the better alternative at some point in time for an institution. Where two models are closely linked they are presented in the same descriptive category. Given our multi-faceted institutions, educational development dimensions structures and practices may be located concurrently in more than one of the descriptive categories.

Each of the dimensions receives an in-depth consideration in a subsequent chapter. To ease connection between the individual chapters and the conceptual framework, the specific chapter is recorded in the left hand column of the educational development conceptual framework. Descriptive categories for forms or structures are presented first, followed by functions or practices of educational development.

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Discussion: When considering the dimensions of educational development, it may be argued that several of the dimensions, for example consultation and mentoring, have both structure and practice aspects. The researchers decided that consultation and mentoring are primarily relationship-building and therefore best fit in the practices category. For purposes of clarity, the researchers placed each dimension in either the structure or practice framework. However, the complex interconnections of these dimensions are acknowledged. The dimensions conceptual framework is offered to post-secondary educational institutions as a means to map the comprehensive array of educational development structures and practices. It is important to acknowledge that there is no preferred pathway to the ‘perfect’ set of educational development dimensions for any institution. However, consideration of these dimensions may guide current educational development practices and future evolution of post-secondary professional learning. Dimensions and descriptive categories may be applied in:

  • mapping the current state;
  • identifying gaps;
  • investigating alternative models, structures, and practices;
  • providing a basis to set future goals for professional learning, and
  • recording evolutions over time.

Dimensions of Educational Development Structures

Having introduced a comprehensive framework of key dimensions of educational development, we now will transition to structural organization. We begin with consideration of teaching and learning centre models and personnel adapted from the Morrison and Randall (2000) study.

Teaching and Learning Centre Models

Each reporting institution demonstrates unique and contextualized ways to organize campus-based educational development. Through examining the reported structures, seven distinctive patterns or models of organization emerged. Six of these models are presented in order of increasing support available for coordination and provision of institutional educational development programs, as well as an increasing amount of institutional funding available for ED personnel:

  1. Volunteer Advisory Committee
  2. Administrator with 5% ‘off the side of the desk’ Assignment
  3. Part-time Coordinator
  4. Full-time Coordinator or Director
  5. Integrated Team
  6. Amalgamated Unit

The seventh model represents a decentralized focus on disciplinary teaching and learning environments such as Sciences, Nursing and Medicine or specialized approaches such as Experiential or Integrative Learning or the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines.

Any of these models may be the right choice for organizing institutional professional learning at a certain point in time as influenced by institutional context, mandate, and funding. Distribution across the 21 participating BC colleges, institutes and universities reflects the full range of these seven educational development models, as is demonstrated in Figure 5.1 below.


Volunteer Advisory Committee


Often the initial foundation of campus-based educational development, this model offers the very best of committed, energetic volunteers who are highly engaged with supporting teaching and learning. It may suffer from the opposite side of volunteerism, that is, multiple responsibilities for participants and, at times, disenchantment with the volunteer role. The ED committee may have advisory, decision-making and/or working roles. The ED committee chair is often provided with an honorarium or a course re-assignment. Committee focus is most often on disbursing and monitoring faculty association or institutional professional development funds, or the organization and implementation of a campus-based Professional Development Day.

Administrator with ‘off the side of desk’ Assignment

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An administrator, usually with institutional responsibilities aligned with teaching and learning initiatives, may be given or request an assignment in the range of 5% of total administrative time to coordinate institutional professional learning, often working in tandem with a volunteer advisory ED committee. A variation of this model is that of decanal deans organizing disciplinary professional learning, often in concert with departmental committees.

Personnel Example: Advisory Committee comprised of:

  • PT Faculty Development Coordinator with one section course re-assignment
  • Designated Faculty Representatives
  • Manager of Human Resources representing Administration

Part-time Coordinator


Most frequently, a faculty member is seconded, assigned or selected to provide leadership, on a part-time basis, for this initial teaching and learning centre model. Institutional funding is usually on an on-going basis, often on a .5 full-time equivalent (FTE) position. Additional institutional support is often provided through a part-time administrative assistant. Particularly for smaller institutions, a significant financial commitment is required to fund a part-time ED coordinator. This step towards base-funded ED coordination enables a much more extensive program of educational development initiatives. The ED coordinator often works in concert with a volunteer advisory committee or with specialized volunteer or seconded Faculty Associates. An innovative approach is that of an Institute for Teaching and Learning chaired by a part-time Coordinator working with a selected group of Teaching Fellows, who receive honoraria as acknowledgement of their expertise and time commitment.

Personnel Example #1:

  • .5 FTE ED Coordinator
  • 1 FTE Educational Technology Facilitator

Personnel Example #2:

  • . 5 FTE ED Coordinator
  • 12 Teaching Fellows, with honoraria

Full-time Coordinator or Director


The distinguishing characteristic of this Teaching and Learning Centre model is full-time ED coordination, either one designated person or through shared roles. The Coordinator or Director often works with a full-time administrative assistant, along with an informal or formalized ED advisory committee, as well as one or two full-time Faculty Associates or Teaching and Learning Consultants. This model leads to sustained professional learning initiatives offered over the length of the academic year. This model often offers a physical and/or online presence for a formalized Teaching and Learning Centre.

Personnel Example:

  • Full-time Director
  • .25 FTE Research and Scholarly Activity coordinator
  • .75 FTE Faculty Development Coordinator
  • Full-time Office Manager

Integrated Team


The integrated multi-tasking team, usually working with a full-time Director, creates and implements ED initiatives ranging, for example, from curriculum development to scholarly teaching approaches through to educational media design. Staffing for this model of a formalized Teaching and Learning Centre is usually in the 4 to 8 FTE range, including dedicated full-time Administrative Assistants. Team members are selected for specialized expertise, though they often work together as one unit deciding on ED priorities and creating implementation plans. Team members may coordinate and facilitate Instructional Skills Workshops (ISWs) or extended variations of teaching initiation programs. The Director has responsibility for management of PD planning, budgeting and marketing and may be involved, for example, with institutional teaching and learning policy issues and strategic planning. In addition, the integrated team members may provide organizational and administrative support for educational leave committees, facilitate new faculty orientations, develop online or print teaching resources, partner with institutional units such as Writing or Math Centres, and liaise extensively with provincial, national and international teaching and learning organizations.

Personnel Example #1:

  • 5 base funded positions: 1 FTE Director, 1.5 administrative assistants, 2.5 educational technology consultants
  • 5 Faculty Associates seconded with one course teaching re-assignments
  • 15 volunteer Faculty Associates as workshop and ISW facilitators

Personnel Example #2:

  • Full Time Director
  • Full Time E-Learning Coordinator
  • Full Time Educational Technician
  • Full time Administrative Assistant
  • Student Assistants
  • Faculty volunteers as Instructional Skills Workshop and seminar facilitators
  • Temporary special purpose secondments, for example, Learning Outcomes Coordinator

Amalgamated Unit


Impetus for creation of this ED model is to amalgamate a diverse and at times competing range of cross-institutional teaching and learning support units into one larger and centralized unit. Each of the smaller units maintains a coordinator or director, often with administrative Dean or ED Director(s) providing overall leadership. The amalgamated unit may provide comprehensive initiatives, for example teaching and learning support, media and graphics design, assessment and program review processes, online and hybrid course development and support, Math and/or Writing Centres, as well as support for institutional initiatives and often scholarship of teaching and learning programs. Bringing together this range of teaching and learning initiatives enhances institutional profile, enables more tightly coordinated ED scheduling and enhances synergies between these related areas. Personnel may range from 8 FTE to 60 or more full-time equivalent positions, with external hiring, as needed, dependent on projects.

Personnel Example #1:

  • Co-management: Dean with responsibilities for curriculum and instructor development in concert with E-Learning Director who has responsibilities for media and technology and online support
  • 1 Faculty Development coordinator
  • 12 Instructional Development consultants
  • 2 multi-media developers
  • 4 video producers
  • Graphic artists (dependent on projects)
  • Technical writers (dependent on projects)
  • Online technical support personnel

Personnel Example #2:

  • Director, full-time, with disciplinary cross-appointment
  • Assistant Director, full-time, with disciplinary cross-appointment
  • Teaching Assistant coordinator, full-time
  • Coordinators, full-time: Writing Centre; Math and Statistics Centre
  • Teaching Consultants or Master Teachers, academic year appointments or emeriti
  • Assistant to the Director, full-time
  • Administrative Assistant, .80 FTE
  • Learning and Teaching Scholar, teaching re-assignment
  • Work Study Students

Disciplinary or Specialized Centres

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The distinguishing feature of this model is prioritization of a disciplinary lens on the teaching and learning context. The impetus is often related to the argument that generic, cross-institutional teaching approaches are not fully attuned to the specific ‘ways of knowing’ of disciplinary learning. These units tend to be located within the physical context of the relevant discipline and may have strong, weak or no connection to a centralized institutional ED centre. These units may be structured as any of the above six models ranging from voluntary advisory committees through to an amalgamated unit. Funding most often is provided directly through the decanal area, though this may be supplemented by institution-wide funding sources. One institution reports that the “primary focus of most of the faculty specific units is to provide instructional support in various ways for their faculty and staff, frequently related to learning technology, and sometimes also to pedagogy or a combination of the two.”

The growth of disciplinary teaching and learning units is intriguing and strongly linked to the ideas of pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 2004a) with a focus on the subset of pedagogical initiatives or signature pedagogies (Gurung et al., 2009) that are most particularly suited to the teaching and learning of disciplinary content. David Boud and Angela Brew’s exploration of academic work as professional practice extends these ideas. Boud and Brew (2012) argue that more effective academic or educational development is created through investigation of real dilemmas embedded in disciplinary classroom professional practices, within intact and continuing collegial groups. Variants of the disciplinary model are specialized units that operate at the institutional level and focus on specific approaches such as the scholarship of teaching and learning, experiential or integrative learning, or research on teaching and learning within and across the disciplines. A model similar to the disciplinary unit is in place in many post-secondary institutions with one or more regional campuses. These sub-units of the centralized Teaching and Learning Centre provide initiatives that are reflective of regional campus needs and may be strongly connected to a central campus centre or may operate quite independently.

Discussion: Significant transformations are currently underway. Four institutions are in preliminary discussions about funding formalized educational development. At this stage, the significance of the primarily volunteer advisory committee is emphasized through signalling initial institutional funding support for educational development. In addition, five institutions are reviewing or implementing significant changes to the current shape of institutional educational development.

This is in distinct contrast to the year 2000 study of professional development across British Columbia’s higher education system, which was marked by high degrees of stability with limited evidence of structural changes in campus-based professional development. We now turn to an investigation of the reasons for the many evolutions in the shape of educational development in British Columbia post-secondary institutions.

Duration of Current Models


Discussion: Faculty development initiatives have been implemented across the BC post-secondary system, for several of the participating institutions, for up to forty years. However, the majority of reporting institutions have sustained their current structure for educational development for five years or less. What are significant catalysts for the transformations in campus-based educational development?

Respondents cite layers and levels of review of institutional mandates for teaching, learning and research that provoke shifts in educational development structures. They note many drivers for change: increased responsibilities and expanded roles for curriculum development and review, implementation of faculty initiation and renewal processes, enhanced learning programs being provided directly to undergraduate students, graduate student preparation for teaching, incorporation of media and technology innovations, and more, all evidence of increased institutional sensitivity to teaching and learning enhancement.

One significant shift is that of moving from professional development committees with specific mandates to manage and disburse contractual professional development funds to more complex and comprehensive educational development models that address the complexity of learning needs of faculty members, staff and administrators.

A second shift is clarification and simplification of the lines of reporting and authority for professional development services. One director notes that a significant change in their ED organization was “created to centralize a number of faculty development initiatives (program review, curriculum development, distributed education, teaching & learning enhancement) that have been reporting to a number of different Directors or Deans within the institution.” Another director reports that amalgamation occurred “to create better synergies and more seamless operation between the functions of course review and development, instructor development, faculty/school liaison, e-learning support, web development, and quality assurance.”

Exponential growth in the range of e-learning initiatives along with the need to educate faculty, administrators and staff about the potential of technologies is a catalyst for transforming structures. Closely related is the need to facilitate processes of enhancing pedagogical strategies through incorporation of technology. A strong trend evident is amalgamation of media and technology units with educational development units, often based on program reviews. “The educational technology coordinator was hired when it was realized that Instructional Technology services technicians couldn’t handle the kind of pedagogical questions that faculty had.”

Another driver for change is the evolving mandate of BC post-secondary educational institutions. Several institutions have significantly expanded mandates as they evolved from colleges, to university-colleges, and now are full-fledged special purpose teaching universities. Mandate changes are occurring in regional colleges and institutes. Personnel in graduate and doctoral universities are implementing a range of teaching and learning initiatives at the institutional level, as well as variations of the discipline-specific models of professional learning. Scholarship of teaching and learning initiatives have also brought attention to relevant research and literature.

As a result or concurrent to these changes there has been an emphasis on re-structuring institutional professional development services, amalgamating units, clarifying roles and responsibilities for educational development and creating new professional learning structures. In several of the institutions, directors note that senior academic administrators chose to significantly enhance support for teaching through expansion of educational development initiatives. Senior administrators may be significant champions for integrating educational development into the culture of the institution.

These drivers for change are resulting in a growing recognition that professional learning opportunities enhance effective teaching and learning. The Director or Coordinator is central to successful implementation and achievement of the escalating range of professional learning opportunities.

Roles: ED Coordinators and Directors

What are the specific roles and responsibilities of the educational development coordinator, director, or in several cases, associate dean or dean? There are many career paths that may prepare those intrigued by the profession of being an educational developer or learning consultant. The question of how and why individuals choose this career path is the subject of recent research (Gosling et al., 2007; McDonald & Stockley, 2010). Dawson et al. (2010) are investigating the specific competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities) most needed by entry-level and by senior faculty developers.

A comprehensive pattern of core roles and responsibilities emerged for the coordinator or director’s position through analysis of the campus-based educational development study data, specifically the range of ED initiatives, organizational structures, networks, as well as position descriptions.

A faculty member through secondment, term position or an institutional hiring process most often facilitates the part-time and several of the full-time coordinator or director positions. Director positions for full-time roles, particularly those who are supervising multiple ED consultants and Faculty Associates, may be posted as faculty or, more frequently, as administrative assignments.

Based on core roles and responsibilities, three foundational attributes are evident:

  1. Abilities to work effectively with people, with evidence of strong interpersonal communication, small group facilitation and effective teamwork capabilities
  2. Expertise and experience with teaching and learning praxis
  3. Capacity for vision and leadership in creating positive change in a post-secondary teaching and learning environment

To these foundational skills, we add a composite listing of ED coordinator or director roles and responsibilities:

  1. Consultation and facilitation of course and program curriculum review, revision and creation
  2. Consultation and engagement with academic communities in professional development and renewal, in both inter- and cross-disciplinary contexts
  3. Consultation and facilitation of e-learning initiatives, including knowledge of Open Educational Resources, copyright and social media implications in the academic environment
  4. Leadership and/or support for institutional development initiatives
  5. Organization, disbursement and review of professional development funds and grants
  6. Direction or supervision of Writing Centres, Math Centres and other institutional or disciplinary teaching and learning units
  7. Capacities to engage scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning; current knowledge of higher education teaching, learning and technology literature
  8. Capacities to provide leadership for educational development personnel including hiring, professional learning opportunities and personnel review
  9. Capacities for leadership of an educational development unit including strategic planning, implementation of professional learning initiatives, evaluation processes, and budget management

Discussion: Director or Coordinator as dancer, interpreter, collaborator, partner and innovator are a few of the similes evoked by these core roles and responsibilities. The ability to work across multiple disciplines is a special attribute. Taylor (2010) explores how educational developers may utilize their disciplinary backgrounds to work effectively within other disciplinary contexts. Taylor notes, in particular, awareness of disciplinary predispositions to valuing specific models of teaching and learning, the potential for developing collaborative inter- or cross-disciplinary communities, and potential challenges to acceptance of integrative or applied learning opportunities.

ED directors and coordinators, as demonstrated through their roles and responsibilities, are offering institutional leadership for learning. Please refer to Chapter 7 for a synthesis of these opportunities and challenges. We now transition to investigate reporting lines.

Reporting Lines

This dimension connects professional development units with those who mentor, allocate funding and who often provide approval for proposed ED programs. Reporting lines are significant both as authority and communication avenues, with formal and informal aspects.


In those institutions that have implemented the Volunteer Advisory Committee model, the committee chairperson most often reports to the Faculty Association executive, Finance department personnel, Human Resources department personnel or to a Labour and Management Committee.

In institutions with established Teaching and Learning Centres, reporting most often is to a Dean or directly to an Associate Vice President Academic or Vice President Academic.

Several institutions have multiple lines of accountability based on the Teaching and Learning Centre’s current activities or special projects. Institutions implementing an amalgamated ED centre model may have dual reporting with, for example, an Instructional Technology Director and an ED Director accountable to different Deans or Vice-Presidents, based on their realms of responsibility. Directors or Coordinators may also report to a pedagogical or professional development sub-committee of Senate or Education Council or to a Faculty Association Professional Development Committee.

Both formal and informal reporting occurs. For example, a respondent notes, “Theoretically, all ED coordinators report to the VP Academic however functionally they report to the Centre Director.” Other ED directors comment that the most important component is the institutional profile and commitment to teaching and learning initiatives of those to whom they report.

The trend evident in the majority of participating institutions is towards reporting to an Associate or Vice President (Academic). The significance of this direction is further investigated in Chapter 7 as part of the discussion of educational developers as leaders for learning.

Advisory Committees: Purposes and Composition

Professional Development Advisory Committees provide programming advice, direction and assistance, as well as direct representation of disciplines or departments. Requesting or selecting cross-campus representatives for the Professional Development Advisory Committee helps ensure that educational development initiatives are based on genuine learning needs as identified by those directly involved. “The coordinator of the centre, along with an advisory committee made up of representatives from each unionized employee group, determine the activities.” Professional Development Advisory Committees may be designed on an ad hoc basis providing input to planning processes as needed. At the other end of the continuum, advice may be provided by a highly structured group of institutional representatives, constituted as a formal committee or board who meet regularly to review and provide recommendations for strategic ED planning.

Informal Advisory Process


Where there is no formal advisory committee, ‘word of mouth’ and ‘hallway meetings’ with interested faculty, staff, administrators, and/or students may be the basis for recommended ED initiatives. Any individual, group or committee may request a new initiative. Professional development personnel may create a focus group or an ad hoc committee or rely on interested volunteers for input. In some instances, informal ED advisory committees are comprised of Faculty Associates and/or Educational Consultants, who offer their expertise and disciplinary connections to provide input. Benefits of the ad hoc voluntary advisory process are immediacy, energy, and high levels of commitment. Drawbacks are selectivity, information gaps and lack of documentation.

Formal Advisory Committee

With more formalized advisory committees or boards, membership may be by appointment of interested constituents, decanal or departmental representation, or by an election process as specified by administration or contractual provisions. The advisory committee, in conjunction with the TLC coordinator or director, will collect and analyze feedback on TLC programming and then recommend or make decisions and possibly implement and review the programming offerings. The advisory committee and the TLC coordinator function as a collegial decision-making team. The process of attaining input regarding planning and implementation of professional learning programs can be complex. As one Director notes, Teaching and Learning Centre personnel consult with “members on its ED advisory committee, the Centre for Teaching and Learning Technologies advisory committee, and the Provost’s committee on Pedagogical Practice.” Benefits of more formalized advisory committees are inclusive membership, multiple perspectives and thorough review. Drawbacks often include slow-moving decision-making processes, territoriality and inertia.

Four major purposes for educational development advisory committees were identified:

  • Advice and Program Recommendations
  • Professional Development Funding Disbursement
  • Program Planning and Implementation
  • Policy, Procedures and Strategic Planning

Advice and Program Recommendations

Core mandates of all professional development advisory committees are to provide feedback on TLC program offerings and to offer programming suggestions based on faculty, staff and administration needs for professional development. “The ED committee advises the faculty development coordinator about needed programs and services.” In those institutions with unionized faculty and staff, the Faculty Association representatives may report back to their employee groups regarding the outcome of their input. The potential of the monitoring role of ED advisory committees is evident: “Teaching and Learning Centre Advisory Committee will oversee the Centre’s activities and programming. Its membership will be broadly representative of the university teaching and learning community, including faculty, staff and administrators.”

Professional Development Funding Disbursement

The advisory committee may be involved with disbursement of professional development funds. “General professional development is managed by a committee consisting of faculty and management, operating under contractual terms of reference and requiring approval of the reporting dean.” There has been a shift for contractual professional development funds at several institutions to be assigned to individual faculty on an annual basis thus reducing or eliminating the need for an ED Advisory Committee to disburse the funds.

Program Planning and Implementation

The ED Advisory Committee may function as a working taskforce in situations with limited PD programming or when the institution has no PD coordinator. “The Faculty Development Committee as well as the Ad Hoc PD Days Committee determines the activities. The annual PD Days activities change from year to year and are influenced by committee members, general membership, support staff, and administration.”

Policy, Procedures and Strategic Planning

Advisory committees may advocate for institutional funding and personnel support for PD programs. They may review and enhance the design and implementation of PD policies, procedures and strategic planning or may ensure that specific elements of the institutional academic strategic plans are implemented. For example, the mandate for one Advisory Committee is to “support institutional strategic plans related to teaching and learning environments.” Another director notes that their Advisory Committee advocated for “the creation of the Teaching and Learning Centre and its expanding influence at the university.”

These purposes are reflected in Gano-Phillips (2011, p. 228) conceptualization of a triad of benefits of advisory committees or boards: acting as an institutional voice; planning, reviewing and/or evaluating ED programs; as well as advocating and communicating the values of educational development.

Personnel and Faculty Associate Models


Who are the people who are directly engaged in educational development roles? Directors and coordinators provided extensive descriptions of personnel roles. Four categories of ED personnel are: administrators, technicians, educational consultants, and faculty associates.

Administrators: The ED Director or Coordinator, Associate Dean or Dean provides administrative leadership for the Teaching and Learning Centre. Roles and responsibilities of ED directors or coordinators, as summarized in chapter 5.3 above, are key to the profile and institutional impact of educational development initiatives. ED Advisory Committees may provide administrative decision-making as well as direct implementation of ED initiatives. Chapter 5.5 provides a summary of their roles and functions.

Larger ED centres are employing specialized administrative personnel such as Managers of Human Resources, Financial and Contracts, Marketing and Communications, Events and Conferences, Quality Assurance, and Distance and Blended Learning, which indicates the breadth of potential ED administrative functions. In an emerging direction, units providing professional development specifically for students are being integrated into larger ED centres, along with their administrative managers, for example, of the Writing Centre and the Math and Statistics Centre.

Educational Development Office Managers and Assistants often are the first contact for those seeking information or assistance and therefore are a key component of the profile and voice of the Teaching and Learning Centre as well as providing coordination for ED initiatives. Limited information on their roles, responsibilities and professional learning needs emerged from this study. Further investigation may be beneficial to determine needed skills and capacities for Educational Development administrators and support personnel as well as their needs for professional learning.

Technicians: An amazing range of technical personnel who support teaching, learning and technology are summarized in this composite inventory: E-learning Coordinator, Video Producer, Technical Writer, Online Support Personnel, Multi-media Developer, Graphic Artist, Web Designer, E-learning Support Programmer, Service Technician, Learning Management Systems PD Strategist, Copyright Learning Technology Specialist, and Emerging Technologies Analyst. The range of technical support indicates the complex types of expertise associated with ED initiatives as well as on-going strategies to sustain currency with emerging teaching, learning and technology innovations.

Educational Consultants: Offering recognized expertise in learning and teaching, educational consultants may also demonstrate specific technical skills (for example, e-learning) or work within a disciplinary context. Titles and responsibilities of these personnel are transitioning. In response to enhanced sensitivity to (adult) learning theories with a focus on learning within communities, a movement is evident away from a ‘developer’ focus towards ‘consultation and learning’ processes.


An extensive range of expertise is demonstrated in this composite array which summarizes educational consultants’ evolving roles and responsibilities: Faculty Developer, Instructional Development Consultant, Learning Outcomes Coordinator, E-Learning Consultant, Coordinator of Aboriginal Initiatives, International Commons Program Coordinator, Evaluation and Research Coordinator, Learning Resource Design Strategist, Professional Development Coordinator, Facilitation and Process Design Consultant, Community of Practice Developer, Curriculum Support Specialist, Instructional Materials Developer, Faculty Advisor, Voice and Presentation Specialist, Educational Consultants (with designated disciplinary specializations), Instructional Design Consultant, Teaching Consultant, Learning Consultant, and Learning Strategist.

These first three personnel categories (administrator, technician, and educational consultant) are most often assigned on a full-time or part-time continuing basis with the Teaching and Learning Centre as their reporting area. Aspects of several of these roles may be amalgamated for multi-tasking individuals or funded as role-specific positions, based on institutional context and initiatives.

Faculty Associates: Frequently seconded to the ED centre on a term basis, and retaining their disciplinary or faculty home, Faculty Associates provide direct connections to disciplinary contexts while sharing their wisdom of practice and they may consult on signature pedagogies (Gurung et al., 2009). Faculty Associates or Teaching Scholars or Institute Fellows were identified in four different roles: volunteer, part-time secondment, disciplinary focus, full-time term position.

  • Volunteer Faculty Associates provide support and instruction through interest or as part of institutional or contractual ‘service’ requirements. These Faculty Associates offer their expertise through facilitating Instructional Skills Workshops, leading teaching seminars, and organizing Reading Circles, among many other roles. Volunteer Faculty Associates may be full-time faculty members or emeriti faculty who are recognized for their teaching abilities and capabilities of working effectively with faculty members. An innovative peer-led Institute for Learning and Teaching operating at a regional college is an example of the volunteer, with honoraria, Faculty Associate model.
  • Seconded Faculty Associates usually have part-time roles in the Teaching and Learning Centre, often with a one or two section or course re-assignment from their disciplinary responsibilities over a one to three year term. While continuing to teach part-time in their disciplines, seconded Faculty Associates may focus on institutional teaching and learning initiatives, for example Internationalizing the Curriculum, Inquiry Learning, or Mentorship initiatives.
  • Disciplinary focus Faculty Associates may be co-funded between the Teaching and Learning Centre and decanal area, usually with part-time assignments, and are selected because of their recognized pedagogical content knowledge in teaching and learning. These Faculty Associates work directly within the disciplinary or decanal area, for example Health and Human Services, often over a one to three year term, after which they may return to their disciplinary responsibilities.
  • Full-time Faculty Associates are seconded by the ED unit or Teaching and Learning Centre and provide concentrated leadership or direction for specific institutional educational development initiatives, for example learning outcomes or assessment initiatives. Other versions are Scholars-in-Residence who are selected because of particular expertise, for example, in accessibility issues or the scholarship of teaching and learning. Secondment term is connected to the length of the ED initiative or project and may be months or several years.

Institutional priorities, budgets, strategic plans and philosophical perspectives will definitely influence the types and range of educational development personnel. Samples of organizational teaching and learning centre models and personnel are provided in Chapter 5.1.


The question of institutional funding for educational development provoked intense interest from respondents who were searching for quantifiable and comparative funding data. Given the extreme range and diversity of institutional funding models for educational development, providing easily comparable statistical funding data is somewhat problematic. However, shared issues and patterns are evident.

A dominant funding pattern is that of relative expenditures allocated to personnel and to programming. For the majority of reporting institutions, salaries and benefits received the largest percentage of educational development budgets, ranging between 75% and 95% of total budgets. Allocations for programming and operations, for the majority of reporting institutions, range from 5% to 25 % through which software, hardware, institutional memberships, conference attendance, honoraria, teaching grants and much more are funded.

The majority of the reporting ED directors and coordinators describe levels of stress with escalating demands for ED programs coupled with challenges to maintain present funding levels. Though this situation is not limited to educational development budgets, it may be beneficial to continue to share processes that illuminate and validate educational development outcomes within internal post-secondary budgetary processes. Sources for funding institutional educational development programs form four categories:

  • Institutional base funding designated specifically for ED
  • Internal budget exchanges to fund ED initiatives
  • Entrepreneurial, project or research funding
  • In-kind funding through volunteer service

Institutional base funding for educational development is usually allocated on a continuing basis, though implemented in different ways. To illuminate, four exemplars are provided:

Exemplar 1. “Institutional base funding of $330,000 is provided of which 85% is dedicated to salaries and benefits. The remaining 15% is for programming costs, reading circles, books for circles, subscriptions to webinars, memberships, supplies, equipment, piloting technologies, upgrading Centre’s technology lab, honoraria and more.”

Exemplar 2. “Based on the College Collective agreement, the College agrees to provide funding in support of professional development for faculty…” The yearly allocation is based on a percentage of total faculty salaries, plus a yearly allocation to support a Faculty Development Day, plus a yearly allocation for an Educational Leave fund.

Exemplar 3. “The central <TLC> receives funding from the institution and also retains a percentage of the tuition fees from students taking distance learning courses. Disciplinary faculty specific units are also funded by the institution.”

Exemplar 4. “From central funds, the university supports the TLC director and TLC assistant (approximately $170K), a two-course release for the faculty member chairing the Faculty PD committee (approximately $25K), and a percentage of institutional faculty salaries dedicated to professional development (approximately $70K). In addition, the institution funds an Audio-Visual team of four staff plus a supervisor, and an educational technology team comprised of two staff plus four faculty members each receiving a one-course release. In addition, there are 10 Faculty Professional Development volunteers.”

Internal ED Budget exchanges, as a second means of funding ED initiatives, create extensive and collaborative institutional inter-connecting networks. ED directors and coordinators describe Human Resources personnel and budgets contributing to Leadership Institutes organized by the ED unit, disciplinary units contributing to salaries for Teaching Scholars, and Vice-President Academic budget centres contributing to Course Experience Survey projects, Graduate Consultation Programs, Research Fairs, Undergraduate Research scholarships, all organized by the Teaching and Learning Centre. One respondent notes that these types of budget exchanges are often administered as soft or non-recurring funds for several years. When they have proven value they may be added to ED base budget funding.

The common factor across these varying base funding models is that, for the majority of participating institutions, the value of educational development is recognized with core operating funds. There are, however, concerns voiced about escalating ED demands coupled with static or potentially reduced ED base funding. To secure additional funds, several ED directors are investigating alternative entrepreneurial, project or research funding sources.


Entrepreneurial, project or research sources are being accessed by 55% of participating institutions as ‘soft’ or non-recurring funding for educational development. ED directors and coordinators describe a range of contracts for campus-based events or external projects, operating on a cost recovery or for-profit basis. Faculty Associations or Faculty Unions provide a recognized source of funding, often coordinated through the Faculty Association Professional Development Committee. External sources of ED funding, on a competitive and collaborative basis, are accessed through the BCcampus Online Program Development Fund (OPDF) projects, Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology programs, Multiculturalism projects as well as external research grants or awards and pooled financial resources to provide cross-institutional collaborative professional development opportunities.

There is limited evidence of external research grants to sustain ED activities or of donor research grants from private foundations, although several institutions note a focus on a research approach to teaching and learning and the promotion of scholarly teaching. For those ED units supporting programs through entrepreneurial funding, a cost-benefit analysis may help to determine whether these entrepreneurial funding projects benefit or detract from core educational development programming.

In-kind funding through volunteer service provided by many faculty members, administrators and staff personnel is a significant source of ‘gifts in kind’ through extensive voluntary or service contributions for educational development coordination and implementation. For example, an institution is implementing a peer-led Institute for Teaching and Learning that emphasizes collegial and cross-campus initiatives to enhance teaching and learning in all sectors of the college, which operates through a combination of institutional funding and in-kind service contributions. In-kind service contributes immeasurably to the richness of ED programming, though at times limited by issues of sustainability.

Physical Location

The dimension of physical location for educational development initiatives varies widely ranging from a conceptual space, to a physical space with low profile, to a high profile, centralized physical space. In addition disciplinary teaching and learning centres, particularly in the graduate and doctoral universities, are being implemented.

Conceptual Space

In 25% of the reporting institutions, the teaching and learning ‘centre’ is conceptual in nature rather than being an actual physical locale on campus, though several of these institutions were currently searching for viable physical locations. Conceptual space has, in many ways, great freedom as face-to-face educational initiatives tend to be located throughout the institution, making use of available rooms and spaces and in so doing, often bringing the educational development ideas in closer connection with disciplinary departments. Conceptual space also opens up opportunities for creating a strong network and online profile, which again offers the potential of bringing educational development initiatives directly and immediately to the desk-top or mobile technology. Online ED websites offer extensive access to the best of international ED resources. Online conferencing, for example through Skype and other forms of online interaction, contributes to creation of a conceptual space for educational development communities of practice.

Physical Space, Low Profile

About 28% of the formal Teaching and Learning Centres are located in a faculty or administrator’s office, which often results in low visibility. ED spaces may be difficult to locate or situated on the campus periphery. High visibility campus spaces almost always are in high demand, however low profile locations for Teaching and Learning Centres such as building basements, tend to convey a message of lower institutional value. Several respondents, working in institutions with space limitations, note that they carved out a sphere for educational development by moving their faculty offices so that they were located in geographic proximity to others involved in professional development, which is a cost-effective and innovative solution.

High Profile, Centralized Physical Space

About 47% of the reporting post-secondary institutions describe their location as centralized or located in a higher visibility campus locale with an active profile. Several institutions are creating new or renovated spaces or expansions moving from an ED coordinator’s office to a dedicated professional learning, teaching and resource space. Several directors note institutional provision of a dedicated suite of teaching, conference, presentation, and meeting spaces including several offices and a reception area, as a significant factor in signifying institutional support for educational development. One institution provides a specialized building for teaching and learning enhancement initiatives, including large and small teaching spaces. The direction is towards creating a sphere or constellation of dedicated educational development units near higher traffic areas, media centres, Instructional and/or Educational Technology units, the Library, Writing or Math centres or located within a Learning Commons complex.

Disciplinary or Specialized Teaching and Learning Centres

Growth is evident in the presence of dedicated ED disciplinary units, for example, in Science, Medicine, or Health. These may take on any of the conceptual and/or physical formats described above, with no, weak or very strong connections to an institutional Teaching and Learning Centre.

Post-secondary institutions with multi-campus satellite sites report three types of resolutions to providing physical space for professional development in regional campuses: a virtual presence only, sited in a faculty member’s office, or provision of an Educational Development space in partnership with affiliated departments such as Human Resources or Educational Technology. Study information is limited as to effectiveness and impact. It may be helpful to identify avenues to provide higher profile for educational development initiatives within institutions with multi-campus sites or very large campuses.

Based on longitudinal comparisons at a systems level, there is now a much stronger presence of formal physical spaces for post-secondary teaching and learning centres in British Columbia. Just over a decade ago, 50% of the reporting institutions provided some type of formal ED office space. That has increased to 67% of the reporting institutions, with several more formalized centres in planning stages. This may provide evidence of an increasing focus being placed on institutional teaching and learning enhancement initiatives.

Dimensions of Educational Development Practices

We now turn from consideration of structures or forms for organizing educational development to a study of practices or functions: mandate, needs assessments, setting priorities, ED initiatives, networks, communication, consultation including mentoring, and e-learning. We review models and implications of the scholarship of teaching and learning within the framework of professional learning.


Philosophical beliefs about teaching, learning and institutional priorities strongly influence the shaping of these educational development mandate statements. The shared focus is to enhance excellence in teaching, to provide excellence in response to institutional educational development needs and to promote professional learning to enhance professional growth for individuals across their specific institutional roles. “The establishment of the Teaching and Learning Centre is a powerful and concrete example of the institution’s direct investment in the business of excellence and innovation in teaching and learning.” Many statements emphasize a shared understanding that “Professional development is a continuous learning process across all levels of the institution for the entire learning community” and that “Quality professional development expands the capacity of the learning community to realize its vision and reach its goals.”

The majority of institutional ED directors and coordinators report a broad-based professional development mandate inclusive of all institutional faculty, staff and administrators. Several institutions recently expanded their PD mandates to include undergraduate and graduate students. The philosophy, as documented by one participating institution and shared by a majority of reporting institutions, is that “All employees are in some ways teachers and learners and therefore all are responsible for enhancing the learning experience for students.” This philosophy results in an inclusive integration of all employees in the programs facilitated by the Teaching and Learning Centres, thus their mandates tend to reflect a broad approach to professional development. Another director reports their mandate: “We are all about learning. The organization becomes stronger when its individual members develop and become increasingly skilled and knowledgeable. Our <ED team> builds on the strengths of the institutional culture, recognizing the good things already happening and moving towards what we want to become. We combine the best of tradition with the best of innovation.”

There are equally strong arguments for mandates that provide separate and contextualized professional development for faculty, staff and administration. To investigate more fully the question of inclusive versus exclusive professional development, refer to Chapter 6.5 which examines PD specifically for administrators and staff. Articulation of the mandate ranges from informal understanding to specific mandates created during the labour negotiations process to mandates developed during or as a result of institutional academic strategic planning processes. For several institutions, an integrative ED mandate is determined through formal and informal needs assessments, program review and academic strategic plan input.

Informal ED Mandate

A mission statement that was developed informally provides guidance and inspiration in one institution: “to collaborate with academic units and instructors, as well as other university services to create a world-class teaching and learning environment that provides outstanding educational experiences for students.”

Mandate Negotiated in Collective Agreements

Where institutions have Professional Development Committees embedded in contractual collective agreements, clearly stated purposes for the PD Committee with defined objectives are specified. In these contexts, the PD committee mandate is a means of implementing contractual agreements related to organization of PD activities and disbursement of PD funding. For one institution, a collective agreement between faculty and management specifies the number of professional development days per year (in this situation 20) for faculty and processes for disbursement of common and adjudicated PD funds (approximately $250,000). Another institution’s PD Committee has clearly articulated contractual terms of reference:

  • “to assist in the provision of faculty professional development including allocation of PD funds;
  • to actively solicit and respond to needs, recommendations, and suggestions for PD from the stakeholders including faculty, deans, managers and the College Planning Committee regarding college-wide activities; and
  • to provide PD activities to address PD needs to maintain currency, update qualifications and enhance instructional abilities.”

Specific Educational Development Mandates

The majority of responding institutions report ED mandates focused on specific educational development goals or terms of reference, determined through institutional consultation and/or administrative decisions. For example, one director notes that their Teaching and Learning Centre mandate is to “enhance teaching and learning and to facilitate curriculum development and reviews for currency.” Another notes that the “primary mandate is educational development for face-to-face faculty. The mandate is being expanded to include instructors of distance courses.” A more general mandate for another institution’s Teaching and Learning Centre is to “create an organizational development program that enhances personal and organizational growth and employee satisfaction.” Several ED directors and coordinators state that their mandate is to promote and support a research focused approach to teaching and learning through promoting the scholarship of teaching and learning across the institution.

Integrative Educational Development Mandates

For a few institutions, the Educational Development mandate is developed through a complex integration of perspectives based on academic strategic plans, ongoing needs assessments, reviews of academic programs and clearly articulated philosophical beliefs and assumptions about teaching, all considered in the context of institutional educational goals and outcomes. As an example, an ED director describes in detail their institutional educational development mandate based on four principles:

  1. “Enhancing teaching and learning processes will contribute to student retention, facilitate capacity building within our educational community, promote recruitment of quality professionals, provoke dynamic curriculum development and contribute toward infusing educational technologies in teaching and learning activities.
  2. Enhancing educational technology and workplace technologies and skills will assist faculty and staff to incorporate technology in keeping with appropriate contexts.
  3. Professional networks and communities of practice will foster continual professional growth and life-long learning, and promote scholarly activity within the institution, as well as professional connections with other institutions and organizations.
  4. Investing in scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning will provide us with substantive evidence of key elements supporting student learning in and across disciplinary contexts, build on our teaching and learning successes and communicate what we do well.”

In this integrative context, educational development initiatives are organized in conjunction with principles that are reflective of the strategic planning goals for the institution. As one director succinctly notes, “Ultimately, the ED Centre’s goal is to foster a robust and vibrant community of scholar-educators recognized at the community, provincial and national levels for excellence in undergraduate teaching and learning.”

Domains of ED Mandates

Philosophical beliefs are evident in priorities voiced in the mandate statements. Diverse roles and a complex range of educational development mandates are demonstrated through the following composite inventory which is aggregated by domains, adapted from Chism (2006).

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Strategic Plan: Roles of Educational Developers

When educational developers were asked about their mandate and roles in strategic plan development, four patterns of response were evident:

  • No involvement in the development of the institutional strategic plan
  • Marginal involvement in an advisory role or as a representative on strategic planning committees
  • Central institutional role in development or implementation of academic strategic plans
  • Central institutional role in development and implementation of academic strategic plans

Fourteen percent of participating institutions report no ED involvement in institutional academic strategic planning. One professional developer notes, “The faculty development program is not part of the institution’s strategic plans, but there is a need to incorporate this in a more systematic way to support faculty and student retention.”

Eighteen percent of participating institutions report an implicit assumption and informal responsibility to implement the mandate of the strategic plan as it relates to teaching and learning. One respondent states that the institutional strategic plan likely would be ineffective without the efforts of the Teaching and Learning Centre educational consultants. “A new strategic plan has recently been developed and faculty development is not referred to per se in the plan. However, superior teaching, student engagement and experiential learning are articulated as specific strategic directions.”

Sixty eight percent of participating institutions describe a defined and central involvement between ED initiatives and their academic strategic plans. Some are involved in developing or implementing academic strategic plans. Others are centrally involved in development and implementation. An example of this latter stage:

To serve the university community, the <Teaching and Learning Centre> incorporates a broad range of educational services and the Institute for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. This combination enables the Centre to draw upon the research strengths of the university community and provide academic leadership to support curricula, teaching and learning, and educational technology initiatives within and across disciplines. To fulfill this mandate, the Centre partners and consults with Faculties, Departments and other academic and service units. The Centre will implement a research informed service unit that focuses on supporting the university’s commitment to student learning as articulated in the institutional strategic plan.

Needs Assessment

What processes determine institutional needs for educational development? Securing information is accomplished both informally and formally. Informal approaches to gathering information include hallway conversations and one-to-one interviews, meetings with internal and external committees, retreats, visits with faculties, departments, and campuses as well as anecdotal requests, spontaneous feedback, information gathered via mentoring roles and consultations, drop box suggestions, wish lists, evaluation of specific events with oral feedback and suggestions for areas of further interest, and invitations for input via email. One ED coordinator stated that, “We often ask faculty informally through our broadcast e-mail what types of workshops and resources are of interest.”

Formal methods include annual educational development surveys, participation in studies of students’ perceptions of their learning, such as the National Study of Student Engagement (NSSE), academic and e-learning strategic plans, focus groups, an ongoing review process facilitated through Educational Development advisory committee perspectives, regular assessments of workshops and other events and activities, and validation of program review participation such as of New Employee Orientation or Campus Professional Development Days. Annual online campus-wide or departmental surveys may provide more structured information regarding faculty and institutional learning needs. Several institutions have formalized a process for annual reviews of faculty professional development reports and utilize this information for future ED planning.

Questions were raised about the value of formal needs assessment processes. One respondent notes that they had “not done any formal needs assessment surveys in years because we haven’t found them very accurate and therefore not much use.” Interestingly, ten of twenty-one responding institutions had no formal process for collecting data related to faculty learning needs and tended to rely on informal ad hoc processes. For at least one institution, “the lack of assessment of faculty needs is an issue.”

Discussion: Continued sharing of a wide range of effective needs assessment approaches across the matrix of educational development centres clearly would be productive. Having a repertoire of possible institutional needs assessment approaches would assist individual institutions in clarifying educational development needs and priorities as well as validating institutional funding for teaching and learning enhancement initiatives. As is demonstrated by the above inventory, there are many ways to gather professional learning needs assessment data. A sample needs assessment, adapted from an online survey, is provided in Appendix 3.

Establishing Priorities

Given diverse and at times competing individual, departmental and institutional needs, how are teaching and learning enhancement initiative priorities determined?

Several reporting institutions describe prioritization decisions based on immediate responses to perceived needs and requests for programming by faculty and administration. One respondent notes their process is “primarily ad hoc reactive and established internally by people in the ED unit.” ED priorities may be simply determined through meeting the needs of “as many faculty as the budget allows.”

A minority of institutions report a clearly defined process of establishing priorities that reflects and is built upon annual needs assessments and institutional strategic plans. For example, priorities were “established through core program planning, ED Centre meetings, input from Faculty Associates, priorities from institutional strategic documents such as the e-learning plan, institutional priorities, data from surveys, faculty and staff requests, and responses to executive level recommendations.”

Identified criteria for setting ED priorities include institutional, departmental or individual needs and contexts, application to strategic planning implementation, effectiveness of the proposed initiative(s), evidence or research-based initiatives, internal and external pressures or innovations, availability of appropriate workshop presenters or speakers, employee time availability or constraints, funding availability or constraints and space availability.

Who decides the ED priorities? An individual coordinator or director of a center independently establishes the priorities for the Teaching and Learning Centre in 20% of the reporting institutions. The ED director may consult with senior administrators, faculty associations, human resource officers and other institutional partners such as the chief information officer prior to establishing the priorities.

Senior administrators are directly involved in setting ED priorities that reflect the academic strategic plan in 40% of the responding institutions. In a variation of this prioritization process, the ED Center Director(s) may recommend priorities for ED program initiatives; however, approval is required from senior administration based on institutional priorities. In just over 20% of participating institutions, institution wide Professional Development Advisory Committees establish priorities based on their terms of reference. The Advisory Committee members’ expertise and connections are highlighted here, particularly their ‘ear to the ground’ awareness of escalating needs.

Institutional partnerships are emphasized through integrative decision-making processes applied in 20% of reporting institutions. As one example, the Centre Director in consultation with the E-Learning Coordinator considers faculty and graduate student ED needs and then meets with the Vice-President Academic to rank these identified needs in the context of institutional priorities, in part established through Senate level decisions, as well as through consideration of advice from the Provost’s Committee on Pedagogical Practices. Another ED director provides a balanced model of consultation by conferring with a cross-campus ED advisory committee for longer-term ED initiatives while also providing ‘just-in-time’ immediate responses through consultations with individuals and departments.

The range of philosophic beliefs is evident as directors and coordinators provide a composite picture of current educational development priorities: • Support new incoming instructors to make the transition from industry professionals to skilled educators • Support experienced instructors by providing ongoing professional development opportunities • Design faculty development that improves the student experience • Support excellence in teaching and learning and student engagement • Implement initiatives to encourage high quality teaching and learning • Promote continuous improvement endeavours • Develop, deliver and evaluate a year round program focused on teaching, learning, curriculum, assessment and educational technology • Facilitate program review and renewal • Develop educational and workplace technologies • Encourage innovative e-learning initiatives • Enhance online professional learning opportunities for faculty • Facilitate professional and scholarly networks through peer collaboration • Foster the scholarship of teaching and learning

Format is of significant importance when setting priorities and making decisions about what types of professional development programs might be offered as funding is highly influenced by personnel and operations implications. Format dimension categories, adapted from the Sorcinelli et al. 2006 framework include: • one or two initiatives per year, most often offered through an institution-wide Professional Development Day • one or two sessions offered per month through the academic year • intensive programs, ranging from short workshops to a week-long institute to year-long learning communities, offered throughout the academic year • intensive programs throughout academic year plus one or more summer institutes

Discussion: Given the variety of approaches for establishing programming priorities, it may be beneficial to clearly define the prioritization process. “Ultimately the goal is to design faculty development in ways that improve the student experience while supporting faculty along the various stages of their professional journey.” The needs assessment flow chart, presented in Figure 6.3, synthesizes stages and participants in institutional educational development needs assessment. Processes should accommodate the unique context of the institution and incorporate sufficient consultation to enable reasoned and credible programming, while sustaining a nimble momentum.

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Educational Development Initiatives: Conceptual Framework

ED directors and coordinators responded with a veritable treasure trove when asked to share their educational development initiatives. Frameworks including those of Morrison (2012b), Sorcinelli et al. (2006), Sorcinelli and Austin (2010), and Amundsen and Wilson (2012) were investigated to create a meaningful categorization of hundreds of educational initiatives.

Amundsen and Wilson’s conceptual framework (2012) evolved from a meta-analysis of doctoral university teaching enhancement literature and presents clusters of educational development initiatives based on stated processes and intended outcomes.

The Amundsen and Wilson framework, because of its comprehensive nature, provides categories that capture the wide-ranging sample of ED initiatives of this study found across the full range of post-secondary institutions: colleges, institutes, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral universities.

The six process and outcome clusters (Amundsen & Wilson, 2012, p. 97) are: 1. Skills cluster focuses on the “acquisition or enhancement of observable teaching skills and techniques: voice projection, presentation skills, discussion facilitation skills, etc.” 2. Methods cluster focuses on “mastery of a particular teaching skill, for example, problem-based learning.” 3. Reflection cluster focuses on “change in individual teacher conceptions of teaching and learning.” 4. Institutional cluster focuses on “coordinated institutional plans to support teaching improvement.” 5. Disciplinary cluster focuses on “disciplinary understanding to develop pedagogical knowledge.” 6. Action research or inquiry cluster focuses on “individuals or groups of faculty investigating teaching and learning questions of interest to them.”

Based on the Sorcinelli et al. framework (2006) we incorporated two additional categories that capture specific responsibilities related to coordination functions: 7. Grants and Awards for Individuals and Departments to support research and innovation in teaching and learning. 8. Resources and Publications to share through academic articles and presentations the emerging research on teaching, learning and technology.

There is some overlap between these eight categories and, indeed, many of the educational development initiatives may fit within more than one of the categories. To minimize repetition, we recorded the educational development initiative only once and placed it in the category that seemed to best capture its essential attributes, though these decisions may provoke debate. Many of the titles of these initiatives are self-descriptive. Succinct descriptions are provided for specific initiatives when additional information is needed.

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Discussion: There are many potential applications for the Educational Development Initiatives Conceptual Framework. Educational consultants may review the framework to identify current practices and consider alternative initiatives, or to plan to incorporate a wider scope of teaching and learning enhancement initiatives. Further investigation through teaching and learning literature reviews, meta-analyses, or through collaborative educational developers’ workshops will provide detailed processes for the initiatives identified in this framework.

Analysis of the Conceptual Framework identifies four types of initiatives, evident across participating institutions, which create a foundation for shared understanding of effective teaching. An exemplar is described for each.

1. Orienting newer faculty members to enhance understanding of effective teaching and learning processes

Exemplar: Liesel Knaack’s (2011) Practical Handbook for Educators creates a framework for designing learning that is helpful for orienting newer faculty members and for enhancing practices of all educators. Knaack, in a lively and idea-rich resource, focuses on supporting student success through course preparation and planning, creating and designing learning opportunities and experiences, and refining and improving teaching and learning strategies.

2. Incorporating opportunities for curriculum or course design or redesign, along with peer consultation, feedback and reflection in a community of practice format

Exemplar: The Curriculum Design Institute was created based on the work of Saroyan & Amundsen (2004). To (re)design curriculum or courses, participants work with concept mapping strategies, learning outcome statements, learning strategies, as well as assessment and evaluation processes. “The key features of the workshop are peer discussion and critique, time for systematic reflection, and the identification of basic assumptions regarding course design and student learning” (University of Victoria, 2013). 3. Incorporating opportunities for peer consultation, feedback and reflection within opportunities to practice teaching methodologies

Exemplar: The Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) is offered by a majority of the reporting institutions and indeed, is the most frequently identified educational development initiative in this study of BC post-secondary institutions. The Instructional Skills Workshop is categorized in the ‘methods cluster’ as it is based on a specified lesson planning framework or method that participants implement during three teaching experiences during the ISW. The lesson framework includes six recommended components: bridging with prior learning, sharing learning outcomes or objectives, pre-assessment of learning, participatory learning, post-assessment and summary. The ISW might equally be categorized in the ‘reflection cluster’ as the facilitated intensive peer consultation and feedback processes encourage reflection and, at times, re-conceptualization of existing teaching and learning practices. Macpherson (2011) investigated perceptions of the ISW experience and concluded that there are practical, immediate and transformative impacts of the ISW.

4. Encouraging professional dialogue through learning communities within and across disciplines

Exemplar: Reading Circles (Randall & Hammond-Kaarremaa, 2003) encourage investigation, through the learning community structure, of the potentially daunting higher education teaching and learning literature (Zakrajsek, 2013). Through a shared leadership and collaborative structure, Reading Circles promote inter- and cross-disciplinary dialogue. Examining and challenging the theoretical constructs and wisdom of practice documented in teaching and learning articles create opportunities for scholarly reflection and praxis.


Longitudinal comparison between the year 2000 Morrison & Randall study and the current study provides strong evidence of a significant expansion in the number and types of educational development initiatives offered across these reporting post-secondary institutions. In 2000, 65% of the reporting institutions had less than one full time equivalent person in an ED role. The reverse pattern is evident in the current study, with over 75% of reporting institutions describing their ED personnel as one full time equivalent or greater. The year 2000 study demonstrated campus-based learning initiatives across the spectrum of these eight clusters, with a definite focus on short-term, skills-based presentations and workshops. Based on data of the current study and given the increased availability of institutional educational development personnel, the complete spectrum is now clearly evident at many of the reporting institutions, with the focus chosen dependent on participants’ needs and context. There is a definite increase, when compared to similar data in the year 2000 study, of incorporation of learning experiences that encourage reflection, as well as much greater evidence of incorporating scholarly opportunities to investigate teaching and learning literature. As well, there are many more opportunities available for in-depth action research investigations of classroom-based teaching and learning questions. Longitudinal comparisons at the system level demonstrate significant enhancements in the nature and philosophical bases of educational development programs, particularly the movement towards professional learning within communities of practice.

Administrators and Staff

Widening the focus to all involved within the academic community, we asked about professional development opportunities for administrators and staff members, which are implemented in four ways: • Separate from the Teaching and Learning Centre, most often through a Human Resources department or Vice President's office • Teaching and Learning community events and special speaker events open to administration and staff by special invitation • Special programs designed in partnership with specific groups, for example, staff, administrators and/or graduate students • Inclusive Teaching and Learning Centre offerings based on an open door policy that welcomes all employees to all events offered by the Teaching and Learning Centre


Fifteen percent of study institutions report that any professional learning opportunities for administrators and staff are facilitated by separate units. “Yes, we have several groups involved in professional development. The Human Resources unit primarily organizes personal or career development activities and workshops while the Teaching and Learning Centre focuses primarily on instructional development.” “Each of the employee groups (3 unions plus management) has their own Professional Development funds and provides for educational leaves, tuition reimbursements, specific conference attendance or other activities.” The study identified that several institutions were amalgamating all their professional development within one unit, while simultaneously other institutions were devolving non-faculty activities to separate institutional PD units so that the primary focus of the teaching and learning centre was on instructional development. Strong reasons for separating these PD functions include budgetary focus, differentiated needs, and overload if all PD functions are amalgamated in one unit.

Teaching and Learning Centre, Human Resources and Vice-President (Academic) personnel may share responsibilities for professional development by invitation for faculty, staff and administration groups. The division most often is based on specific purposes or learning outcomes, such as specific job-training for support staff and budgeting seminars for administrators.

Teaching and Learning Centre personnel may work in partnership with a Staff Association PD committee to provide special initiatives such as an Appreciative Leadership program, comprised of seminars and presentations that develop leadership capacities. In other contexts, Instructional Skills Workshops or other teaching and learning enhancement programs are offered in separate cohorts for administrators and staff. As a third example, a Professional Development for Administrators conference and an Academic Leader Development program are hosted in partnership with Human Resources personnel, with support and direction from a senior administrative advisory committee.

Several institutions provide rationales for their all-inclusive professional development. One director notes that “all employees are learners and teachers in their own way” therefore their Teaching and Learning Centre has two personnel who represent support staff and non-instructional employees. Based on a similar perspective, another director notes, “All staff members are invited to faculty development events: (1) to emphasize shared ownership and responsibility for supporting effective student learning; and (2) to reinforce the importance of a broadly-based and inclusive learning community that supports ongoing learning related to effective teaching and learning.”

Professional learning issues and topics for administrators and staff include: • Human rights issues • Aboriginal teaching and learning protocols and initiatives • Internationalization initiatives • Technology. teaching and learning skills and innovations; sharing relevant literature • Higher education trends and forecasts, student recruitment and retention strategies • Job specific training, customer service, negotiations skills, interviewing and hiring skills and processes, budgeting and financial processes, effective meeting planning and implementation • Relationship building, communication skills, conflict resolution • Evaluation of teaching, assessment of teaching dossiers • Leadership concepts, philosophies and skills • Wellness programs, stress reduction

The majority of reporting institutions are considering how to best implement, within their institutional contexts, professional learning opportunities for the full range of faculty, staff and administrators.


ED directors and coordinators were asked to identify the networks that they accessed connecting ED within their institutions, across the BC post-secondary system as well as nationally and internationally. These networks demonstrate high levels of partnership and shared leadership. The next three pages provide illustrations of the interconnecting spheres of institutional, regional and provincial, national and international ED networks.


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Institutional Networks

The collaborative nature of educational development and professional learning roles as well as extensive relationship-building through leadership and partnership are illustrated in the composite institutional networks of Figure 6.6.1. Also evident are the diverse units and centres operating within post-secondary institutions, with varying types of responsibilities, often resulting in complex interactions. Three different types of (potential) professional learning networks are evident: • Partnered initiatives with departments such as Human Resources to create career and personal development opportunities • Partnered with curriculum development and diversity units such as Internationalizing the Curriculum, Educational Technology, Math Centres, or Writing and Reading Centres • Partnered with institutional processes and units, such as Program Review, Institutional Data office, or the Academic Strategic Planning process

Reviewing institutional educational development networks may assist in identifying potential connections for enhancing professional learning as well as reducing potential overlap and duplication.

Regional and Provincial Networks

The most frequently identified provincial association is the University, College and Institute Professional Development (UCIPD) Committee (Appendix 6) which, for more than two decades, has continued to organize professional learning opportunities for institutional representatives across the BC post-secondary system. This network functions through volunteer and self-leadership to organize cross-campus sharing of processes, contexts and evaluations for a range of professional learning initiatives. The second most frequently mentioned BC organization providing support for professional learning is BCcampus, which is “a publicly funded organization that aims to bring together British Columbia’s post-secondary system and make higher education available to everyone, through the smart use of collaborative information technology services” (BCcampus, 2012) BCcampus is particularly acknowledged for cross-institutional collaborative processes, such as support for the Educational Technology Users Group, as well as encouraging a range of professional learning initiatives and curriculum projects related to e-learning and Open Educational Resources (Appendix 6).

Another way of viewing these regional and provincial networks is to consider gaps. Which existing organizations, with shared professional learning mandates, are not currently identified in these networks? The BC Council on Admission and Transfer which has responsibility for curriculum articulation across the British Columbia higher education system was not identified. There may be shared initiatives of value to both educational developers and BCCAT. The Certificate in Adult and Continuing Education offered through a network of Canadian universities, the Provincial Instructor Diploma Program coordinated through a BC college, as well as a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Higher Education or Adult Learning were not strongly identified within the study data related to these learning networks. However, they offer rich professional learning opportunities for those intrigued by these career directions. Connections with other existing educational organizations in BC might be investigated to enhance efficiency in creating shared professional learning initiatives and collaborative possibilities.

National and International Networks

Based on current study responses, numerous British Columbia educational developers are sharing their initiatives and expertise at national and international conferences and some are taking on leadership roles within these scholarly teaching and learning organizations. Two types of involvement are evident. Educational developers contribute and share their expertise and wisdom of practice. Simultaneously, they build their own capacities through the professional learning opportunities offered throughout these networks. This involvement contributes to providing BC educational developers access to relevant and emerging teaching and learning practices and philosophies as well as enhancing teaching, learning and technology profiles of BC post-secondary institutions. Substantive benefits are realized by these educational consultants who are contributing to, and providing leadership within, institutional, regional, provincial, national, and international professional learning networks. These contributions include service in executive positions, research teams, publishing and editorial boards as well as conference presentations. These are often voluntary roles, frequently requiring substantive time, personnel and travel commitments. Electronic communication modes via processes such as Skype and Blackboard are beginning to effectively reduce travel time and costs. Fraser, Gosling and Sorcinelli (2010) identify three spheres (individual, institutional, and sector-wide) that relate closely to the institutional, regional, national and international networks described in this study. Fraser, Gosling and Sorcinelli also note the promise, across educational development sectors, of effective sharing of scarce resources to effect change as well as acknowledging barriers that may limit engagement in regional, national and international ED networks.

A potential investigation is to document models, including technology applications, of effective inter-institutional and cross-border collaboration, partnership, and leadership. This type of documentation may enable greater clarity when commitments are being considered for formal participation in regional, national, and international teaching and learning networks.


Communication, promotion, and marketing are processes that may not naturally seem to be part of educational developers’ roles. However, putting tremendous efforts into organization of ED initiatives may have limited impact if promotion does not result in sufficient attendance or participation.


Diverse types of communication and promotion initiatives are being investigated for their effectiveness. Promotion of ED initiatives is strongly embedded in e-mail and internet communication modes, with online databases and individualized needs assessments enabling targeted e-mail to specific faculty or departments.

The majority of Teaching and Learning Centres are designing dynamic dedicated websites for both communication and advertising purposes, as well as creating teaching and learning resource banks with hyper-links to provincial, national and international networks. There is a movement away from print-based promotion. Tensions are noted, however. As several respondents report, personnel within educational institutions are bombarded with e-mail messages and many disregard, don’t read, or delete these messages. One respondent recommends word of mouth and personal invitations as ultimately the most powerful form of communication, and also notes that in institutions with hundreds of employees—“that’s a lot of talking.” Being consistently aware of relationship building through face to face communication is both important and difficult.

To personalize professional learning, two ED directors highlight the values of partnering Faculty Associates with specific disciplines or departments. This creates a closer relationship and community surrounding the educational development communication process. In the same vein, others comment that Senate, Educational Council, Faculty Association and/or administrative meetings provide excellent venues to concisely promote ED initiatives. Building on the credibility of Teaching and Learning Centre personnel, another respondent notes that an effective communication process is to consciously build, through coaching, the profile and capabilities of TLC personnel to take on leadership roles on relevant institutional committees. Taking advantage of opportunities for direct profile and visibility of TLC representatives, at meetings and institutional functions, will enhance communication.

Several institutions are investigating varying forms of social media that enable higher degrees of interactivity. Twitter provides immediate communication. Blogs enable more reflective and chronological communication of ED initiatives and ideas, along with opportunities for readers to interact and post comments. Institutions, particularly those with many off-campus and online faculty members, are striving to create dynamic electronic communities to build connections with faculty members who very infrequently visit the physical campus. Opportunities to experience online communications and to enhance their technology skill sets enable faculty members to more effectively integrate these communication modes within their teaching and learning practices. Further investigation of interactive online professional learning community-building initiatives will be beneficial.

Discussion: Conceiving of communication of educational development initiatives from a communications or promotion stance is an emerging direction. One option is the creation of a Communications or Promotion Plan which might occur in partnership with Marketing, Business, Communications or Graduate programs, or perhaps as a Co-operative Program project. What will be most successful is dependent on institutional context. These four questions may help provide structure for a Communications Plan: 1. What forms of communication are currently in effect? 2. What is the impact of current communication initiatives? 3. What are the goals for an enhanced communications plan? 4. What are other potential forms of communication? Feasibility? Process?


A higher degree of anxiety was evident when educational developers were requested to describe program evaluation processes. The need to establish firm boundaries for evaluation processes was immediately noted by one respondent: “Formal faculty evaluation is in the purview of faculty associations and administration.” Other tensions identified are finding time, personnel and budget to conduct effective program evaluations and to implement needed changes.

As is demonstrated by Figure 6.8, informal evaluation processes, including smile sheets, anecdotal feedback and invited comments are utilized by about 30% of reporting institutions. Again, about 30% report implementing more formal processes chiefly through online surveys. A minority of institutions report being involved with a formal ED program review, either as part of an institutional internal review process or with both external review and internal self-study components.


Five exemplars demonstrate the range of assessment (gathering evidence and data) and evaluation (valuing or making judgements) processes:

Exemplar 1: “Sessions and events conclude with requests for written feedback. This is compiled and shared with presenter(s) and used to inform process. Faculty needs and availability are solicited through online surveys.”

Exemplar 2: “Evaluation forms are provided at the end of face-to-face events with online evaluations of webinar sessions. Online surveys for regional faculty help to assess their needs regarding instructional design and educational technology. Informal surveys are implemented to assess needs and to evaluate professional development sessions.”

Exemplar 3: “Both informal and formal evaluation are in place, with continuing work to improve these processes. Results of feedback forms are provided to session participants. Results of various program evaluations completed in the past as well as anecdotal reports from participants, facilitators and others are considered. Results from a comprehensive external review as well as a comprehensive formal review of the Graduate Certificate program are underway. Extensive formal review/needs assessment of all graduate student programs is planned. Currently, we are in the process of planning or beginning reviews for all the other amalgamated unit’s programs.”

Exemplar 4: “Informal evaluation of faculty and instruction is provided through Small Group Instructional Feedback (SGIF). Program evaluation is implemented through Small Group Quality Assurance Feedback (SGQAF).”

Exemplar 5: This example demonstrates how ED consultants work with evaluation data when collected. “Our focus is on development and implementation of quality courses therefore ongoing systematic reviews based on established guidelines provide important data on the ultimate effectiveness of these initiatives and processes. Survey data is gathered after events and programs and systematically analyzed in debriefing sessions so that improvements can be made on a continuous basis.”

Based on an analysis of the range of evaluation dilemmas and applications, as described by the participating educational consultants, seven interrelated processes for evaluation are identified: • Gathering narratives and evidence of the impact of educational development and professional learning initiatives on student learning • Gathering narratives and evidence of the impact of instructional development and professional learning initiatives on faculty learning or on institution-wide learning • Gathering evidence of the effectiveness of career and personal professional development opportunities • Selecting effective teaching and learning enhancement initiatives • Evaluating the skills and abilities of individual and collective ED personnel • Evaluating the quality of educational development programs and units • Inspiring individual, departmental and institutional change processes that enhance the quality of the post-secondary learning environment

Discussion: Deciding which of these seven evaluation processes, individually or in conjunction, are priorities for action involves consideration of purpose. Ultimately the purpose of educational development programs is to enhance student learning. The interaction is often a two-step process with educational consultants, guided by the institutional context and mandate, working directly with faculty members who then work directly with students. Study authors acknowledge that gathering specific and verifiable evidence of the impact of educational development on student learning is a difficult process. Impact and changes in student learning may not be evident in the short-term. There are many mitigating factors between educational development programs and enhanced student learning. There are profound differences between individual faculty members though they may be teaching the same disciplinary content. There are also important differences between two groups of learners, even if they are enrolled in the same disciplinary course and matched on relevant factors for research comparisons. Further, many of these evaluation processes depend on variations of participant-learner self-report, which may be accurate, self-deprecating, or self-aggrandizing.

To help guide evaluation processes, there is a vibrant and cogent higher education literature focused on investigating teaching and learning praxis, of which core selections are cited. Kuh et al. (2005a, 2005b; NSSE, 2012) document evidence-based components of engaging learning environments from the learners’ perspective. Entwhistle (2010) synthesizes a comprehensive range of concepts and frameworks emerging from research on student learning. Christensen Hughes and Mighty (2010) provide a survey of international perspectives and research on teaching and learning. Devlin and Samarawickrema (2010) investigate differing models of effective higher education teaching practices and strongly emphasize the significance of institutional, disciplinary and course level context. They compare the Australian Learning and Teaching Council’s teaching effectiveness criteria with the Student Evaluations of Educational Quality (SEEQ) factors as described in Marsh & Dunkin (1997) and Marsh (2007).

Evaluation decisions about which instructional/faculty development processes may be more effective involve consideration of factors similar to those influencing teaching decisions when creating effective student learning environments. These factors form a context quintet: curriculum philosophy, design and processes of the planned educational development initiative; intended learning outcomes; learners’ priorities and experiences; teachers’ needs, experiences and commitment; and departmental and/or institutional context and commitment. To investigate the literature, Levinson-Rose and Menges (1981) provide a classic review of research on effective college teaching practices. Stes, Min-Leliveld, Gijbels, and Van Petegem (2010) synthesize a ‘state-of-the-art’ meta-analysis of research on the impact of instructional development in higher education. Both these reviews, though separated by three decades, encourage greater attention to the “varied institutional contexts, because these can influence the impact of instructional development” (Stes, et al., 2010, p. 47).

Guskey (2002) outlines an evaluation typology, linked to data collection methodology and questions, which may provide a structure for educational development evaluation processes. This typology was created for use within the K-12 system and with adaptation bridges to the post-secondary system. Guskey’s five levels of evaluation are participants’ reactions, participants’ immediate reflections and learning, organization support and change, participants’ use of new knowledge and skills and, student learning outcomes. Wilson (2012) compares a range of relevant models for assessment and evaluation of instructional development initiatives. Amundsen and Wilson (2012) apply their conceptual framework, as described in chapter 6.4, to create an initial categorization based on a meta-analysis of selected articles describing effective educational development initiatives in doctoral universities. They offer their conceptual framework as a way to “build a better understanding of the variation and complexity of educational development practice and the thinking underpinning this practice” (Amundsen & Wilson, 2012, p. 111). Wilson (2012) extends the concept of applying a meta-analysis of selected research studies to determine potential relationships between instructional development and effective teaching. Wilson’s study results in fascinating themes regarding faculty learning and instructional development. However, Wilson concludes: “We in fact know very little about the connection between instructional development initiatives and improvements in university teaching” (Wilson, 2012, p. 138) perhaps because the sample investigated mainly individual applications. Wilson encourages discussions of the attributes of effective teaching in post-secondary settings as well as investigating how to better support faculty members at various stages of their careers, and in a range of disciplinary contexts.

Descriptions of rich resources of educational development and professional learning initiatives, as implemented across the British Columbia post-secondary system, are gathered in the conceptual framework presented in Chapter 6.4 of this study. Astute and well-informed educational consultants, in discussion with individual faculty members, disciplinary networks and institutional representatives as is relevant to the context, are well placed to contribute thoughtfully to decisions related to selection, implementation and evaluation of more effective educational development and professional learning opportunities.

Cross-institutional, regional or system-wide investigations of educational development initiatives may be beneficial, particularly offering potential for greater impact and significance than provided by most individual studies. A sample evaluation, created to better understand the impact of professional development on faculty learning processes and on students’ learning, is provided in Appendix 4. Macpherson (2011) provides another example of a systematic investigation of the transformative potential of the Instructional Skills Workshop, an instructional development process fully described in Appendix 7. The scholarship of teaching and learning with its focus on investigating student and faculty learning, also offers avenues for investigating the impact of educational development initiatives, as is documented in Chapter 6.12.

We now turn to an in-depth consideration of consultation programs which are interwoven throughout many of the educational development and professional learning processes described in this study.


Provision of consultative assistance, particularly instructional consultation, is one of the earliest services provided in the field initially named faculty development (Bergquist & Phillips, 1975; Centra 1975). Instructional consultation steadily grew in the extent of its use in the US and Canada (Erickson, 1986; Kurfiss & Boice, 1990). It was soon recognized that “[h]elping faculty to develop a capacity and habit for engaging in ongoing systematic reflection on their practice can be seen as critical to the work of faculty development” (Chism & Sanders, 1986, p. 59).

Consultation services are offered within higher education for a variety of purposes including enhancement of teaching and learning, but also for research and scholarly writing, career planning and development, personal counselling, design of curricular materials and instructional products, and assistance for departments as well as for individuals (Schuster & Wheeler, 1990). Consultation practices are based on relationship-building and are generally confidential processes with data and recommendations for the sole use of the participating faculty members(s). Activities that involve video recording, classroom observations, gathering of student feedback or evidence of student learning must be conducted within departmental and institutional protocols.

Educational developers often use informal conversations to provide immediate consultative assistance in an ad hoc manner. The role of the director or coordinator of the Teaching and Learning Centre, as described in Chapter 5.3, includes a wide range of informal and more formal consultation responsibilities. Consultation is also provided by TLC personnel and others through structured approaches that focus on the enhancement of teaching practice. In structured instructional consultation, individual faculty members or teaching assistants request information from students and/or colleagues in collaboration with at least one other person. This other person has completed preparation activities for a particular individual or group-based instructional consultation approach. In group programs, the participants also serve in consultative roles for one another.

Most programs include the following components: the participant reflects on his or her own teaching experiences; information is collected in a variety of ways; video recording is often used as a primary or supplemental information source; conversations between the participant and the consultant and/or co-participants occur throughout the process; the time frame varies depending on the activities included; and the activity is generally voluntary, carried out for developmental rather than for personnel purposes. Whereas programs for individuals generally include feedback gathered in the participant’s teaching environment, group-based programs often involve a workshop setting that can be organized with varying degrees of formality and structure. All consultation programs require support from personnel in a designated coordination role to be sustainable over time.

Instructional consultation may be offered by the TLC director or coordinator, by educational consultants, by faculty associates and also by volunteer peers. Through these consultation services and programs, research about adult learning and development informs professional learning activities; colleagues assist colleagues to learn to be more aware of the assumptions underlying their practice; and individuals benefit from the opportunity for giving as well as receiving feedback on professional practice.

Typology of Instructional Consultation Programs

The Typology of Instructional Consultation Programs (Morrison, 1995, 2012b) provides a template to cluster programs for comparative purposes. When the first dimension (role relationship between the consultant and the participant) is combined with the second one (programs offered for individuals or for groups), a matrix of consultation program types is identified. Peer Consultant Services and Peer-led Microteaching Workshops are offered by individuals who have had intensive preparation to serve as facilitators for the specific services or workshops offered. In the Peer Partner and the Consultation Support Group types of consultation, the participants are oriented to the program activities and then work through these inquiry and feedback activities in pairs or small groups.

Qualitative research on peer-based instructional consultation (Morrison, 1995) identified four outcome clusters including: increased confidence as a teacher, enhanced teaching skills, ongoing instructional inquiry, and enhanced collegial relations. Interviewees reported improvements in their presentation, group discussion and course organization skills as well as the development of new skills such as facilitating participatory learning activities for their students. "Individuals from across the career spectrum commented on the value of rich conversations about teaching that they had with colleagues, not only from their own disciplines, but from other ones as well. Those involved in inter-institutional group programs also commented on the value of intensive workshops. Faculty in group-based programs particularly appreciate the sense of being part of a larger collegial community through active learning experiences shared with other participants.” (Morrison, 2012b, p.105.) Details of the research design and results, including eight case studies of programs offered at 17 colleges and universities across Canada and the United States, are available in an online format (Morrison, 1995).

No hierarchy of programs is implied in this typology and it appears that each of the program types has particular strengths and limitations (Morrison, 2012b). Institutions can offer a mix of program types to maximize the benefits of these various approaches to instructional consultation. It is not anticipated that an institution’s services will evolve over time in any particular order or pattern. In planning new or expanded consultation activities, the Typology of Instructional Consultation can be used as a guide for discussions about whether to offer one or more of the program types for different groups of participants and for different purposes. Appendix 5 provides a listing of local variables to consider in the implementation of instructional consultation. These elements are described in more detail in Morrison (2012a).


Descriptions of Four Types of Instructional Consultation

Four types of instructional consultation are presented in the Dimensions of Educational Development Conceptual Framework (Figure 4.1) and are briefly described below.

Peer Consultant Services: Peer Faculty Associates provide consultation services for their colleagues on an individual basis. An institution may have a preferred set of activities for gathering and analyzing information, for example related to video recording, observations, interviews and surveys. However the specific areas of attention can vary widely depending on the needs and interests of the participant and the knowledge and skills of the peer consultant. These services are usually offered by a small team of consultants who provide assistance to individuals on an occasional basis, with participants most often matched with consultants across departments rather than from within their home department.

Peer Partner Programs: Two colleagues work together, generally using a particular set of inquiry-based activities emphasized in the specific program offered. Through activities such as classroom observations and discussions with students, the partners focus on increasing their understanding of the learners’ experiences in their respective courses. Each partner conducts inquiry activities and also provides consultative assistance to the other person. The process involves the partners being in the ‘participant’ role either concurrently or sequentially.

Peer-led Microteaching Workshops: In microteaching, participants design and teach short lessons for their colleagues within a small group setting. The colleagues then provide verbal and sometimes written feedback describing their experiences as learners in each other’s short lessons. Video recording is a primary or supplementary source of information. The process is facilitated by one or two workshop leaders. The preparatory process for these workshop leaders includes experiences in receiving group feedback as well as guided practice for facilitating group feedback sessions.

Consultation Support Groups: This program type involves participants working together in small groups (3 or more) to support their individual efforts to gather and analyze feedback on their teaching practice. Each participant provides samples of teaching practice such as cases, scenarios, video recordings, observer data and student feedback, which is then discussed with the other group members. The leadership for the group discussion is provided from within the membership of the group.

Offering of these Four Consultation Program Types at the Study Institutions

Microteaching consultation is the most prevalent type of instructional consultation currently offered by institutions of higher education within BC. The Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) is the primary Peer-led Workshop identified by study respondents and is integrated into educational development programming in 60% of reporting institutions. A description of this program is provided in Appendix 7 and in other literature including Morrison and Wilbee (2012), Macpherson (2011), Morrison (1995), Morrison (1985), Kerr (1980), Mason and Kerr (1980). Both Peer Consultant and Peer Partner programs are offered for individuals at institutions in this study. Many institutions offer some form of mentoring program as described in Chapter 6.10. A number of institutions offer video-recording as a resource for teaching enhancement (Kristensen, 2012). Small Group Instructional Feedback (SGIF) is another service offered at several institutions by peer consultants with experience in this process. The peer consultant is invited by an instructor to visit a class and then to gather and discuss student group feedback, without the instructor being present. The consultant summarizes the group's comments and then meets with the instructor, fairly soon after the class, to review and discuss the feedback and to plan any follow-up activities. There are also examples of Consultation Support Groups offered in BC institutions. Variations of classroom assessment techniques (Angelo & Cross, 1993) are sometimes used by participants to collect information about their students' learning experiences, which is then discussed with other members of a small consultation group. The Great Teachers' Seminar format (retrieved from provides another example of the use of the Consultation Support Group process in which individuals bring forward successes and dilemmas for discussion and possible resolution within small peer groups. In this model, small group facilitators are coached by the lead facilitator(s) for the particular offering of the Seminar. A rich discussion of instructional consultation is found in Practically Speaking: A Sourcebook for Instructional Consultants in Higher Education (Brinko, 2012).

Distinct Changes in Instructional Consultation are Evident

Since the mid-1970s, several shifts have occurred in the practice of instructional consultation in both Canada and the United States. These shifts are described below and in Morrison (2012b).

The first shift has been the steady expansion in the number of institutions providing instructional consultation, and particularly peer-based consultation, as part of their educational development program. More coordinators, consultants, facilitators and volunteers, across all types of institutions, are now involved in offering these collaborative inquiry and developmental activities. Therefore, many more individuals are now able to access consultative assistance. The expansion of peer-based instructional consultation has also led to more informal consultative assistance, offered by colleagues for colleagues.

A second shift is an increased emphasis on the preparation for those in consultant, facilitator, observer, partner and program coordinator roles. The growth of peer-based instructional consultation has provided a testing ground for initial orientation, on-going development and evaluative activities for individuals providing consultative assistance. These programs often involve a team of consultants or facilitators and developmental activities tend to occur within a group setting. As some of the peer-based programs, such as the Instructional Skills Workshop program, are offered across several institutions, initial and ongoing developmental activities are also provided on an inter-institutional basis. Preparation for those in consultative roles is generally based on experiential learning models emphasizing guided practice with feedback for each of the consultation activities offered within the program. Role reversal is an important feature, with important learning often occurring from being in the role of participant as well as facilitator. Inviting colleagues into the teaching setting also provides opportunities for them to learn about teaching through observation, providing feedback and joining in mutual inquiry into the teaching and learning process. Focused theoretical sessions and supporting materials complement the practical skills-oriented activities. Continuing development of consultative skills is also fostered through formative evaluation activities and by professional learning opportunities to extend one's consultative and facilitating skills and knowledge. TLC directors and coordinators are important resources in the design and delivery of developmental opportunities for others in the institution to serve in peer-based instructional consultation services and programs.

A third change is a shift towards greater use of collaborative inquiry approaches that draw on qualitative research techniques including multiple observations of teaching and individual and group interviews with students, which then serve as prompts for collegial conversations. These intensive qualitative inquiry techniques may be more readily offered in peer-based programs where individuals in consultative roles tend to work with only a small number of participants at any given time.

Peer-led workshops that include microteaching activities also incorporate qualitative inquiry techniques into their design. Verbal feedback is provided within a small group format that can be described as a variation of a 'focus-group' interview. The group feedback discussion is often supplemented by narrative feedback in the form of responses to open-ended questions. Comprehensive peer-led workshops that are conducted over several sessions provide opportunities for multiple observations and extended conversations about teaching and learning. These interviewing and observation techniques can be more 'labour-intensive' for those in consultative roles than are quantitative techniques such as standardized student rating inventories and structured observation protocols.

Multiple observations and interviews usually lead to in-depth conversations and increase the potential for learning about teaching through dialogue with others. Opportunities for faculty to observe and to be observed as teachers are central to the consultation process. Of course, observation activities are dependent on instructors' willingness to invite others into their teaching environment. Similarly, gathering of student verbal feedback is dependent on instructors' willingness for interviews with students to be conducted, within departmental and institutional guidelines. Regardless of the specific activities offered within the program, the process is dependent on the participant and the person(s) in the consultative role engaging in reflective conversations about the information gathered (Smith, 2012).

A fourth trend is that the expansion of peer-based consultation has provided a venue for experienced faculty and teaching assistants to take on greater peer leadership responsibilities, with the Teaching and Learning Centre often drawing on these individuals to facilitate a range of teaching and learning enhancement initiatives. Some peer consultants and facilitators have taken on other leadership responsibilities within their institution and in professional networks extending beyond their home institution. Educators who serve as peer consultants and workshop facilitators often participate in advanced personal development activities as part of their involvement in these programs. They continue to develop their awareness of self through efforts to enhance their competence in interpersonal communication and group facilitation skills.

Instructional consultation can be described as collaborative faculty development (Morrison, 1995, 2012b) and is informed by research on active learning and learning-centred models of education. Participants and those in consultative roles describe enhanced collegial relations as a benefit of involvement in various instructional consultation services, in both institutional and inter-institutional contexts. Perhaps active learning processes that include mutual inquiry into teaching and learning serve as vehicles for the fusion of personal and professional development and for fostering a sense of community and collegiality among those who come together in these collaborative professional learning activities. Instructional consultation activities have also formed a strong foundation in the growing interest of scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning, as documented in Chapter 6.12.


In Greek mythology, Mentor was asked by Odysseus to guide his son, Telemachus, when Odysseus left for the Trojan War. Mentor was acknowledged as being a ‘wise advisor’ for Telemachus (Online Etymology Dictionary). The term ‘mentor’ has been adapted in English to mean ‘coach’ or ‘teacher’ and is perceived as someone who helps others prepare or gain expertise.

BC post-secondary institutions indicate interest in the concept of mentorship, a form of peer consultation, through a range of processes of linking newer faculty with those more experienced. Figure 6.10 documents that 20% of reporting institutions are planning or developing mentoring programs, about 40% are currently offering informal programs, and about 40% are offering more formalized programs.


Though the original notion of mentorship implied a neophyte-veteran relationship, several of the models documented in this study build on mentoring as shared learning with both participants equally contributing though perhaps with differing types of expertise.

Reporting from those institutions where mentoring programs are under development, several respondents indicate renewed interest in creating mentorship programs. One professional developer notes the challenges of maintaining a mentoring program, “We have started a project to develop a program. We had a Peer Coaching program in the past, but it just kind of faded away about 8 or 10 years ago.” Respondents note other limiting factors for mentorship programs including time demands for both mentor and mentee, the need for dedicated resources and leadership for mentorship programs, access to appropriate faculty to take on mentorship roles, and at times, unwillingness of neophyte faculty to engage in a mentoring relationship.

Informal mentoring programs rely on volunteers and individual departments or faculties to address the mentoring needs of new faculty. Informal mentoring occurs through professional development programs such as Open Door Week, when faculty members volunteer to open their classrooms to institutional, student and community visitors. New Employee Orientation and Reading Circles offer opportunities for one-to-one discussions and encouragement. In at least one institution, mentoring is seen as “on-going roles of the Chair of Faculty Development and Instructional Designers. Both the Chair and the Instructional Designers create opportunities for veteran faculty members to share expertise, experience, and exemplars with less experienced faculty.”

Formal mentoring programs are represented by four examples:

• “A formal faculty peer mentoring program is in place where newer faculty are partnered with seasoned mentors on the basis of shared interests or expertise in a variety of areas such as teaching and learning face to face, teaching and learning in virtual environments, understanding the college governance system, and undertaking research.”

• Mentoring organized by educational developers in partnership with the Human Resources department provides “support in a variety of ways including planning, identification and encouragement of best practices, developing of guidelines documents, and much more.”

• Faculty Peer Mentoring Alliances are “groups of three or four instructors, usually from different departments, who meet regularly during one academic year to focus on teaching development through collaborative reflection, discussion, and observation.”

• Faculty mentoring is provided through “one to one mentoring facilitated by Educational Development consultants and Instructional Skills Workshop team members. Departmental-based mentoring initiatives are also provided when faculty mentorships are set up within the discipline or school, usually for new faculty members.”

Discussion: Faculty mentorship opportunities span the career trajectory from commencement through to retirement, and beyond, when emeriti faculty members may continue to offer their wisdom of practice. At each stage faculty encounter teaching challenges (Baldwin & Chang, 2006) that educational consultants may address through mentorship programs.

Early career mentoring needs are often focused on induction and introductory teaching elements. At this stage, post-secondary educators may take advantage of a variety of professional development offerings including activities such as instructional skills workshops, new faculty orientations, teaching tips workshops and ‘lunch and learn’ programs as examples. Early career mentorship may be initiated either informally or formally by the department or by educational development consultants. These types of peer coaching and mentoring alliances promote a “focus on teaching development through observation, discussion and collaborative reflection.” It is important to note that these early career mentoring relationships may be reciprocal partnerships with the newer faculty member contributing alternative approaches and innovative ideas.

Mid-career mentoring focuses on enhancing teaching abilities and mentoring others. As faculty advance in their careers, they may seek greater challenges by taking on leadership through faculty associate positions, by facilitating instructional skills workshops and other professional development opportunities to enhance and share their expertise. Mid-career faculty will frequently engage in discussions that enable them to incorporate the literature on scholarly teaching into their teaching practices and may launch scholarship of teaching and learning investigations. As faculty engage in a deeper knowledge of teaching and learning, they may seek ways to share their expertise, for example through the Peer Alliances Mentoring program described earlier in this chapter, through conference presentations, or through crafting academic papers related to teaching and learning issues.

Advanced career mentoring for veteran faculty involves finding rewarding challenges to recharge or reinvigorate the faculty member’s teaching and learning practice. Senior faculty may seek ways to leave a legacy of their teaching careers by taking up specialized roles as professional developers. “Yes, mentoring is a responsibility of the Instructional Development Associates. Faculty members are called upon for their expertise for support and guidance. The Associates develop and deliver activities to support their peers.” Veteran faculty gain institutional recognition and validation of their expertise and experience, often through providing expertise for initiatives such as Leadership Institutes or Graduate Student Teaching and Learning certificate programs. Through these mentoring opportunities, veteran faculty members may reap recognition for exceptional service both within and beyond the institution.

The combination of consultation programs, as described in Chapter 6.9, and mentoring opportunities, as documented above, emphasizes the direction of educational development with movement towards professional learning opportunities enhanced through collaborative and community-building networks.


Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Leadership for Learning—Enabling and Limiting Factors

Personal and Professional Credibility

Mentorship by a Senior Administrator

Perceived Institutional and Departmental Impact

Acknowledgement by Faculty Members

Active Visibility and Profile

Barriers and Limiting Factors


Nature of Institutional Culture

Budget Allocations

Need for Dedicated Space

Lack of Consultation or Clarity

Emerging Directions

Evolutions in Mandate and Models

Professional Development and Professional Learning

Leadership for Learning


Faculty Learning Processes

Communication and Promotion

Needs Assessment and Evaluation

Avenues for Future Practice and Research