What We Do
The Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is the teaching hub of the university. We support the university’s teaching and learning mission by providing orientation, training, mentorship, research and innovation opportunities for instructors at Western so that, they, in turn can create high quality undergraduate and graduate learning experiences for students. We build bridges between disciplines and create scholarly communities of practice that allow instructors at Western to share innovative approaches to teaching with each other and inspire student engagement throughout our campus.
The CTL is recognized nationally and internationally for its research-based practice; comprehensive teaching assistant and international graduate student programs; extended teaching certificate programs; purple guide series; and as the home of The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
CTL Mission Statement
The mission of the Centre for Teaching and Learning is twofold. First, we foster and enhance best practices in teaching and learning at Western University, in partnership with Western Libraries, the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, and Western Technology Services. Second, we advocate for teaching excellence and scholarship at Western, nationally, and internationally.
We provide orientation, training, mentorship, research and innovation opportunities for all instructors at Western, including full and part-time faculty members, librarians and archivists, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students. Our mission focuses on three priority goals: pedagogical excellence, mentorship and professional development, and scholarship and innovation. In support of these goals, we offer certificate programs, workshops, conferences, communities of practice, courses, consultations, facilitation and online resources at the instructor, departmental, Faculty and institutional-level.
To facilitate Pedagogical Excellence, we:
- Support instructors in the development of effective and evidence-based teaching practice;
- Enable instructors to create deep and transformative learning experiences for students;
- Provide feedback to instructors on teaching strategies and help them collect and interpret feedback on their teaching;
- Promote the effective use of instructional technologies;
- Strengthen instructors’ capacity to support meaningful learning for a diverse student body;
- Support instructors and departments to use alternative, hybrid and blended teaching methods in courses and across programs to enhance student learning; and
- Guide continuous curriculum development, including supporting course design and institutional program review.
To facilitate Mentorship and Professional Development, we:
- Support faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows at each stage of their academic careers;
- Provide information and support throughout the promotion and tenure process;
- Support effective graduate supervision and mentorship;
- Promote the development of intercultural fluency in the classroom and across the curriculum; and
- Foster the development and growth of educational communities of practice.
To facilitate Scholarship and Innovation, we:
- Support teaching innovations through grants and awards;
- Mentor educational leaders;
- Promote the engagement of instructors in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL); and
- Model SoTL by conducting and publishing research on teaching.
Our educational development practice is guided by the following key principles.
- Research based practice and scholarly approach. We model research-based educational development practice on multiple levels. Our workshops and practice are grounded in recent research on teaching. Members of our team are active researchers, we conduct research on the impact of our own programs and have been successful in securing provincial and national funding for our research.
- Participant centered approach to educational development that empowers our participants. Our programs focus on participant needs in every aspect of program design. For example, the flexible structure of our Instructional Skills Workshop allows us to adapt the themes and issues we address to the needs of participants in each cohort, responding to shifting participant needs by the day or even by the hour.
- Modelling good practice. We model student centered approaches to teaching, creative student engagement techniques and innovations in technology enhanced learning in every program we facilitate. As facilitators, we also model inclusivity and openness to multiple disciplinary perspectives.
- Developmental approach to educational development. We mentor instructors at each stage of their careers as teachers, from novice teaching assistants to award winning faculty who engage in educational leadership.
- Reflective practice. We encourage and model reflective practice in all aspects of our work and encourage instructors to seek feedback from their students and peers and critically reflect on their teaching regularly.
- Faculty driven, educational developer assisted approach. This principle is particularly important in our curriculum development and renewal work and in our work supporting teaching fellows and faculty associates. Our role is to guide, support and consult with faculty and departments, and to facilitate conversations that allow faculty to find creative solutions that match their disciplinary culture and context.
- Creating community, modelling collaboration. Our role is to build bridges between colleagues across different disciplines, faculties, and career stages so they can share ideas, and mentor each other. Our learning communities, and Faculty Mentor Program bring together colleagues from diverse disciplines in mutual mentoring.
- Promoting a culture that celebrates teaching. At Western and throughout Canada, we advocate for an institutional culture that recognizes teaching and celebrates creativity in teaching.
- Inclusivity. We model inclusivity in our work. Working across all dimensions of difference, including cultures, disciplines, and levels of experience, in our programs, everyone has a voice, and all perspectives are valued.
- Ethical practice. We strive to model STLHE’s Ethical Principles in University Teaching in all aspects of our work and maintain confidentiality in our consultations.
- Contextual Awareness.We strive to be aware of the disciplinary and institutional needs of our participants, as well as the Provincial, Canadian and International context of our work in order to be able to provide the most up to date and appropriate types of support to instructors and departments at Western.
Members of the CTL team actively contribute to the scholarship of teaching and learning through their work on a variety of individual and collaborative research projects, publications, and academic conferences. Please see the team’s profile pages for a complete list of publications, grants and ongoing research projects. CTL members also form the primary membership of the Centre for Research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (CRTLHE). The research centre is a collaborative initiative with Western’s Faculty of Education.
Since 2009, members of the team have published or have in press 35 scholarly or research-based publications, including books, edited books, book chapters, journal articles, purple guides, and reports to provincial institutions such as the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, and eCampus Ontario.
Research and program development grants awarded to CTL staff members as principal or co-investigators during the last 7 years total over $760,000. We have designed and undertaken 15 research projects (8 ongoing, 7 completed) funded in part by these awards.
Collectively, we have made over 90 refereed conference presentations nationally and internationally since 2009.
Invited presentations and workshops
In addition, our scholarship and expertise has been recognized nationally and internationally by invitations to give keynote addresses at conferences and symposia, and facilitate workshops at other institutions in Canada, and around the world. Over the past 9 years, members of the CTL team have given 40 invited lectures or workshops in five provinces, at over 20 different universities in Canada, as well as at universities in Scotland, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Japan and Tanzania.
Themes of our scholarly practice
- Intercultural Teaching Competence
- Teaching Assistant Development
- International TA Development
- Educational Leadership
- Positive Student Development
- Impact of Teaching Development Programs on Faculty Teaching
- Faculty Mentoring Practices
- Graduate Supervision Across Cultures
- Impact of Blended Learning Approaches on Student Self-Directed Learning
- Teaching in Active Learning Spaces
- Curriculum Mapping Practices
- Institutional Teaching Culture
The CTL is one of Canada’s oldest teaching centres. Established in 1976, as the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Teaching and Learning (PACTL), it was renamed the Educational Development Office (EDO) from 1979-2004; the Teaching Support Centre (TSC) from 2004-2018, and Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) since 2018.
In the early years, the EDO was led by faculty members, such as Dr. Colin Baird and Dr. Marilyn Robinson, both 3M Teaching Award winners. From 1997 to 2016, Dr. Debra Dawson led the expansion of the centre into areas such faculty mentoring and internationalization, and started the focus on research on teaching with the creation of the Purple Guide series on critical issues in teaching and learning.
Today the Centre is unrecognizable from its humble beginnings with a part time director and a part time staff member. The CTL now has 11 full time staff, including educational developers focusing on for eLearning, curriculum, graduate education and cross-cultural communication, an educational researcher and 12 part time graduate student instructors. The team includes 11 part time Teaching Fellows who provide educational leadership through the Centre and their home Faculties.
Milestones in the Centre’s history
1979 First Reflections Newsletter
1984 First Graduate Course on the Theory and Practice of University Teaching (now SGPS 9500)
1986 First TA Day
2000 First Faculty Mentor Program sessions
2004 Establishment of the centre in the D.B. Weldon Library
2006 Western University becomes one of the founding institutional members of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE).
2006 The 360º Graduate Student Professional Development Initiative begins
2010 The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning is launched
2011 The first issue of TIPS (Teaching Innovation Projects Journal) is published
2014 The first Western Active Learning Space (WALS) opens
2016 The CTL Hosts the STLHE Conference (Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education) in collaboration with Fanshawe College