CETAL is a faculty and student based support network dedicated to developing excellence in teaching and learning. Through scholarship, classroom research, annual conferences, and year-round events, CETAL helps both teachers and students achieve their goal of pedagogical excellence in a variety of learning environments.
The Center supports collaborations across traditional boundaries, encourages innovation in pedagogy and promotes sharing of best practices with the intent to make UTEP a national model for excellence in teaching and learning especially for minority and underserved students in our 21st-century student demographic.
The Center also provides professional development of faculty through formal and informal mentoring activities; seminars on teaching and learning; and facilitation of faculty work groups which are focused on developing effective ways of integrating teaching, research, service, and leadership skills.
The Center works closely with the Associate Deans for Faculty Development in the Colleges and leaders of other units such as Academic Technologies and the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects to coordinate and publicize faculty development activities on campus and ensure that faculty and graduate students are aware of these opportunities.
Specifically, the Center works to:
- Provide strategic, effective and responsive support for all university faculty members and teaching assistants who wish to improve their students' learning and prepare them to meet lifelong intellectual, ethical and career challenges.
- Prepare faculty (full- and part-time) and graduate students for effective management and leadership in the classroom environment; provide strategies and support for improvement of course design; implement instructional technology to improve teaching and learning; team teaching; implement cooperative and collaborative learning strategies; implement alternative instructional formats (hybrid courses, distance learning, mediated learning); and manage classroom climate or challenges such as cheating, plagiarism, or collusion.
- Prepare instructors and programs for assessment of teaching and of learning outcomes by providing resources for the areas of classroom assessment techniques, effective testing and grading strategies, effective assignments design, student learning outcomes measurement (of courses and programs), and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
- Prepare instructors to work effectively with diversity in the classroom, taking into account the strengths and complexities of individual and group identities and interests.
In 1997, the Center for Effective Teaching and Learning (CETaL) was established under the $22.5 million NSF Model Institutions for Excellence (MIE) grant to provide support and faculty development for UTEP faculty (especially STEM faculty) as they incorporated active, cooperative and collaborative learning into their curricula. During the rest of the decade, the center was directed by Gregory Lush (UTEP faculty member in Electrical Engineering), then Gail Goodyear, and then James Salvador (UTEP faculty member in Chemistry), and the center gained a physical home in the Undergraduate Learning Center (UGLC) building.
In 2000, the mission of CETaL was broadened to serve the entire campus in areas of teaching effectiveness and effective pedagogy and Tine Reimers and Bill Roberson were brought in to co-direct CETaL. Recognizing the lack of a regular teaching conference in the vicinity, Reimers and Roberson launched the Sun Conference on Teaching and Learning (now called the Sun International Conference on Teaching and Learning), which has been held every spring (except 2007 and 2008) since 2002, has attracted presenters from several states and countries, and has sometimes published online proceedings. Reimers and Roberson also initiated the Fall Faculty Retreat (an annual professional development event to kick off each school year) and the CETaL Council of Fellows (a group of experienced faculty from all colleges to serve as campus leaders and models as well as assist with CETaL events. In 2003, Instructional Support Services was founded as a separate center (which would be rebranded in 2013 as Academic Technologies) headed by Roberson, as Reimers continued directing CETaL.
After Reimers and Roberson left UTEP in 2006, Judy Reinhartz briefly served as CETaL’s Interim Director. The next long-term director of CETaL was kinesiology faculty member Harry Meeuwsen, who is CETaL’s longest serving director to date, serving from fall 2007 through December 2013. During Meeuwsen’s tenure, the name of CETaL was changed to stand for “Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning” to reinforce UTEP’s access and excellence model. Meeuwsen resumed the excellent innovations of Reimers and Roberson, instituted several awards, and created additional resources such as the Teaching Toolkit video series. Since 2011, CETaL has had faculty associates appointed by the Provost’s Office to assist the director, including Ivonne Santiago (Civil Engineering), Larry Lesser (Mathematical Sciences), and Peter Golding (Metallurgical and Materials Engineering). In January 2014, Lesser began serving as CETaL’s Interim Director.
CETaL enters UTEP’s new century still focusing on teaching effectiveness and also providing resources for professional development of instructors to help them succeed throughout all stages of their academic careers. CETaL also looks to offer resources for faculty in conducting scholarship of teaching and learning, a mode of scholarship that UTEP recognizes as legitimate in its current promotion and tenure guidelines. Adding focus on such scholarship and education-related components in grant proposals may help UTEP reach its goal of becoming the first national research university with a 21st-century student demographic.