Faculty Services

Are you looking for extra support in tackling a challenge in one of the courses that you teach? Are you ready to dig into your teaching practices and refine them to enhance the learning experience for your students?

Coaching may be the support you are seeking.

Coaching will provide you with personal feedback and guidance to address your concern. The coaching process begins when the instructor seeks out support from the Trefny Innovative Instruction Center. We will schedule time with you to discuss your concerns and to develop an initial plan. Next, we will schedule a time to observe your teaching to gather some baseline evidence and to get a sense of the interactions in the classroom. We will take detailed observation notes during the class meeting to help us give you evidence-based feedback related to your question. After the classroom observation, we schedule a time to debrief, when we share with you what we noticed, and discuss opportunities for refinement. We might recommend different options for ongoing follow-up support. The Trefny Innovative Instruction Center uses the Content-Focused Coaching¹ method when working with faculty. This approach focuses on the content, learning, and interactions through a cycle of planning, evidence-based observations, and discussions. Some of the questions we use to guide our coaching conversations include:

  • What do you expect students to learn by the end of the class meeting?
  • How will you know whether or not they’ve learned what you intended?
  • Why is this learning outcome essential in your course of study?
  • What learning has come before this, and what will come after?
  • Where does this learning fit within the over-all arch of the course?
  • What difficulties do you anticipate students will face with this content? How do you plan to support students as they struggle with these difficulties?

The goal of the coaching approach is to provide a structure, time, and guidance to help you focus and reflect on the impact that your teaching has on student learning.  The coaching process slows you down to allow you to focus on key aspects of your work. The reflection leads to more explicit and intentional teaching practices and has been shown to lead to significant improvements in student learning.

There is a statistically significant relationship between teachers receiving professional development coaching and student achievement.²

Please contact Sam Spiegel for more information about this opportunity.

1 West, L., & Staub, F. C. (2003). Content-focused coaching: Transforming mathematics lessons. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 2 Young, Taffeta, “The effectiveness of instructional coaching and other variables on student achievement as perceived by teachers: Implications for educational leaders” (2008). ETD Collection for AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library. Paper 40.

One of the more popular methods of support that the Trefny Innovative Instruction (I²) Center offers faculty is a process for Course Review.  Faculty members work with us to analyze the course learning outcomes, assessments, content, and activities. Through the collaborative effort we look for gaps, redundancy, and opportunities to fine-tune the design to make it more coherent and aligned with best instructional practices. Many faculty contact us for course review help when planning and preparing to teach a course in a future semester. However, we are also available to help alter a course in action, should you encounter a challenge you want to address mid-semester.


Please contact Sam Spiegel for more information about this opportunity.

decorativeAre you thinking about designing a new course, or redesigning a course already in action?  Don’t go it alone – the Trefny Innovative Instruction Center is here to help. Course design requires educators to make intentional, reflective choices about how an activity, course, or curriculum will lead to desired outcomes for student learning. A well-designed course will provide clear, explicit, and coherent paths for students to build on their current skills and understandings to achieve the targeted learning outcomes, preparing them for their STEM career. We can support you with education, guidance, and resources to help you make the best choices as you design your curriculum. We encourage a backwards design process where you begin with your learning outcomes and then work backwards – thinking about how you and the students will know that the outcomes are achieved.  Once learning outcomes are clarified, we can help you think about what types of activities will best support students in reaching the learning outcomes, what content students will need, and what routines will best support students as they work toward the goals.

Some areas of focus include…

Learning Outcomes for Students: What do you want students to know and be able to do at the end of the course or sequence of courses? How will the course build on where students started and help them move through the rest of the curriculum? How does the course meet programmatic requirements? How does the course meet professional learning goals? How do you clearly articulate the learning goals to students without taking learning opportunities away?

Productive Assignments: What assignments will allow students to reach those goals and develop skills that are enduring? Will the assignment engage the students as active learners, allowing them to productively struggle with the content? Does the activity provide any differentiate for various learners? The emphasis here is on developing assignments that are both integral to the course experience and provide opportunities for students to articulate and demonstrate how they think about the given topics. The assignments should also consider the time required by faculty (setup, review, and feedback) and students.

Relevant Course Content: Once you have a clearer idea of the learning outcomes and assignments for the course, content choices become less about what you need to cover and more about what students need to achieve the intended learning outcomes. What course content will directly contribute to students’ understanding and help them to reach the goals you have set for them? What might be the most efficient and productive (from a learning perspective) means to allow students to access the content?

Feedback and Assessment: How will you know that students have reached those goals? Will there be opportunities for students to assess and monitor their own progress along the course? How can you incorporate feedback opportunities within the course beyond the usual mid-term or final? We can assist in developing assessment strategies that align with your goals for student learning and yield information that will enhance your current offering of the course (formative assessment) and help you to identify ways that you might teach the course differently the next time.

Design consultations can also include conversations about the following: Syllabus, teaching large classes, incorporation of technology to support goals and assignments, organizing group work, large-scale student-driven projects, summative projects, and other topics that you would like to consider.


Please contact Sam Spiegel for more information about this opportunity.

The Center has been leading the coordination of Mines’ fully online programs. We have developed online modules for faculty as well as Engineering Learning Online, a 5-week online course on the design and facilitation of online courses. We also provide support and guidance for the use of online resources for face-to-face courses. More information will be available so please stay tuned.

One way of supporting innovative teaching on campus is through classroom observations. We might observe faculty to document general patterns of pedagogy in use across campus, to provide feedback to individual faculty who have requested support, to coach others in teaching techniques, or perhaps as part of a learning tour where faculty observe other faculty to note patterns and reflect on their own practices.  It is difficult to talk about good teaching practices without the evidence and experiences of an actual classroom, so we include teaching observations as an essential component for innovating our teaching at Mines.​ We always work with faculty who are observing others so they learn to capture evidence-based, non-judgmental noticings during the observation.  We then discuss what we noticed and observed, and make these observations available to the classroom instructor, if desired. We use the noticings to reflect on our own practices and to consider questions that might advance teaching at Mines. The purpose of the observations may be driven by a variety of factors; however, the Trefny Innovative Instruction Center will NOT conduct observations to evaluate faculty. Faculty may choose to use the feedback from an observation as part of their portfolio. Additionally, we can work with others to learn how to conduct evidence-based observations.


Please contact Sam Spiegel for more information about this opportunity.

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