In this program, trained student observers with a passion for teaching are paired with faculty members throughout a semester. Student consultants observe their partner’s course, meet with her or him regularly, and develop a dialogue in the interest of improving the course.
Focused on reflective growth
The goal of the program is to support faculty as they reflect upon, and develop, their teaching. For the partnerships to succeed, it is essential that participants feel safe and supported while they engage in critical reflection on and dialogue about teaching and learning. Thus student consultants’ observations in this program are completely separate from the promotion and tenure and student evaluation processes.
The power of dialogue
Every faculty-student partnership evolves based on the personalities of the faculty member and student consultant, the kinds of experience both have had with teaching and learning, the particular class under study, and other variables. Student consultants do not have the answers to perennial pedagogical challenges and so neither faculty, nor students, should expect that the input they offer is definitive. Rather, it is part of an ongoing conversation.
Consultants are hired after a rigorous selection process including nomination by faculty, submission of written application materials and references, and interview with the TLI Coordinator and an existing consultant. Their first semester is dedicated to training (including short readings, a mentoring relationship with an existing consultant, and on-the-job learning via a short-term partnership). At all times consultants strive to demonstrate empathy, a genuine concern for learning, and professionalism.
The TLI Coordinator will solicit interest in student consultant partnerships from faculty at the end of each semester for the upcoming term. All faculty are eligible to participate.
A student consultant’s perspective
Who are we?
In class, we are flies on the wall, making detailed notes about instructional practices, student responses, and so much more.
In partnership meetings, we are friends who work with professors to determine what may be working for the class and what may not be successful.
In general, we offer professors suggestions as to why an activity may have been positive or negative.
What do we do?
We have the privilege of facilitating connections between professors and students.
We are able to provide a new perspective for our TLC partner.
We are windows for our professors to see students’ perspectives on the class.
We observe, reflect, and offer support, explanations, activities, solutions, and further questions.
What DON’T we do?
We do not impose any one teaching model on faculty.
We do not have the power to change the class based on our reflections and suggestions.
We are not there to determine whether or not a professor is a good or bad teacher.
We do not have any say in the promotion or tenure process; our comments are 100% confidential.
(Jessica Neuman, Class of 2013)