Students Consulting on Teaching (SCOT)

The Students Consulting on Teaching program is a short-term partnership between a faculty member and a student consultant who is trained to help faculty gather learner feedback. The purpose is to support faculty in making small, meaningful teaching changes that are informed by both broad research on learning and student feedback in a specific course.

Student Consultants are available to work with faculty
mid-February to the end of March.

Student consultants (SC) are prepared to consult using these four methods, and they are guided throughout the process by CTLE staff.

  1. Small group instructional feedback – The SC and faculty partner meet to explore what the faculty member wants to learn from enrolled students. This can range from a general inquiry, such as what is going well and what challenges students are encountering, to a specific question, such as how to more effectively engage students in class discussion. Together, the student consultant and faculty partner develop 3 open-ended questions and print these as handouts. The SC conducts the small group instructional feedback session in class; the faculty member is not present. During the process, (a) individual students respond in writing to the 3 questions, (b) they then discuss and respond to the same questions in small groups, and finally, (c) the SC facilitates a whole class conversation among the groups to document student responses to questions. The SC communicates to the professor those responses that have a strong consensus by enrolled students and discusses these in person with the professor.  Student responses are anonymous. This method emphasizes collective feedback and commonalities across students.
    Approximate faculty time on task excluding email: 45 min consultation with SC / 30-40 min of class time (SC with students; faculty not present) / 45 min consultation with SC.
  2. Early course feedback surveys – The SC and faculty partner meet to identify aspects of student learning where the faculty member wants feedback. Together, they sketch out a brief questionnaire and plan how to administer it. Via email, they refine the questions and confirm their plan for administering the questionnaire. The SC analyzes and summarizes the data. The SC and faculty partner interpret the findings together in a follow-up conversation. Enrolled student responses are anonymous. This method can show trends in student feedback as well as the range of individual responses.
    Approximate faculty time on task excluding email: 1 hr. consultation with SC to select learning focus, draft survey items, plan / 15 min faculty gives survey in class / 45 min consultation with SC
  3. Class observation – This method offers the faculty partner an opportunity to seek perspective on their teaching from an SC who’s not enrolled in their course. The SC and faculty select 2 class periods for observation. They identify foci for the observation (e.g., flow and pace of the lesson, interactions and participation, media, group work). The SC attends class and takes notes. The SC then works with CTLE staff to reflect on the notes and provides them verbally during a post-observation conversation with the faculty partner.
    Approximate faculty time on task excluding email: 45 min consultation with SC – prior to the observation / SC observes 2 classes (e.g., 2x 45 min) – 45 min consultation with SC – post-observation
  4. Transparent assignment design – Robust research reports benefits for all students, and especially members of underrepresented groups, when faculty articulate the purpose, tasks, and criteria for assignments. This approach is known as “transparent assignment design.” SCs and faculty write or revise an assignment with the goal of making it transparent for students. The SC gives feedback from a student perspective during the drafting process. The faculty partner gives the assignment, grades it, and writes a half-page summary of what worked well and what could be improved. Optional: The SC and faculty partner gather feedback from enrolled students on how well the assignment purpose, task, and criteria were communicated.
    Approximate faculty time on task excluding email: Two 45 min consultations with SC / Give and grade the assignment. Reflect. / Optional: Gather brief feedback from the students on the clarity of the assignment.

Contact:
Jacques Safari Mwayaona, mjsafari@syr.edu
Laurel Willingham-McLain, lwilling@syr.edu

Co-sponsored by the Shaw Center for Academic Community Engagement