October 09, 2018

This month marks the opening of The Catholic University of America’s new Center for Teaching Excellence, which will provide the University community with resources and training on effective instructional methods.

Angela McRae, director of the center and assistant professor of education, said the goals for the new center are simple: to support faculty, graduate assistants, teaching assistants, and teaching fellows in their work as educators.

“The fundamental mission of the center is to provide support and resources to all instructors at the University who teach our students, and to give them the help they need to educate their students at the optimal level, based on proven pedagogical approaches and techniques,” she said.

As it grows, the center will work toward this mission in numerous ways, including workshops and seminars, brown bag lunches and community building, an online repository of teaching resources, and a mentoring program that will pair senior faculty members with new faculty.

McRae said she believes the new center will allow University faculty to stay up-to-date on current developments and best practices in the teaching field. She hopes the center will also provide a sense of collegial support and comradery.

“It can sometimes be a bit of an isolating experience trying to navigate the instructional experience and we don’t want people to feel like they have to go it alone,” McRae said. “We want everyone to feel confident and to feel like they have the tools to be excellent teachers.”

This new center was first announced in June, as part of the Catholic University Academic Renewal plan. Provost Andrew Abela asked Vice Provost and Dean of Assessment Duilia de Mello to recommend a plan of implementation of the center for the fall semester. De Mello and McRae wrote a proposal for the new center, which was then approved by the provost. McRae believes the initiative to be “an indication that the University is interested in supporting the faculty and building excellence in the classroom.”

Ann Corsi, associate dean of graduate programs and research for the School of Arts and Sciences, said she is looking forward to becoming involved with the new center because she finds teaching to be the most rewarding part of her career.

“We want our graduate students and early career faculty to have as much support as possible to become excellent educators,” she said. “And, we want our more senior faculty to have a forum to share what has worked well in the classroom as well as to keep current on the most effective teaching methodology.”

By bringing faculty members together to learn from each other, as well as experts in the field, the center will “introduce new strategies, methods, and technologies to improve students’ conceptual understanding, critical thinking, communication, problem-solving, and research skills; and assist faculty in integrating technology into their teaching more meaningfully,” said Agnes Cave, chair of the Department of Education

“The Center,” Cave continued, “will offer opportunities for faculty members to discuss challenges they have experienced or anticipate, find ways to overcome and improve upon those difficulties, and ultimately, encourage the pursuit of teaching excellence through exploration, discussion, and reflection.”

Professors interested in sharing additional ideas for future programing can contact McRae at cua-centerforteaching@cua.edu.

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