The USC Center for Excellence in Teaching (CET) is a university-wide fellow-driven organization dedicated to
fostering and enhancing deep lifelong learning.
The mission of CET is to provide shared leadership, vision, and support committed to
the inspiration, development, and advancement of USC's learner-centered education.
The Center for Excellence in Teaching (CET) is an innovative initiative envisioned by faculty for faculty. The CET Fellows are a group of creative faculty, well-recognized by their peers, and committed to excellence and innovation in teaching, learning, and scholarship. Since its inception in1996, as a full-time faculty development organization, CET's work has been undertaken by its Faculty Fellows, led by CET's Director, and supported by a very small staff.
CET seeks primarily to treat teaching as serious intellectual work that merits sustained focus at a research university. By providing the training, feedback, and resources to make excellent teaching possible, we assist faculty and teaching assistants to think of college courses, and out-of-class activities, as opportunities for them to define, practice, and advance their disciplines (and inter-disciplinary collaborative work) through teaching and mentoring.
Major themes of our University Strategic Plan include learner-centered education, distance learning, globalization, and interdisciplinary scholarship aimed at solving current social problems. Since CET has been a leader in creating and implementing educational strategies now recognized as essential in the new Strategic Plan, CET is the right resource to offer leadership to the University on these issues.
CET'S Prime Directive
CET's prime directive is to advance learning at all levels by providing and coordinating activities and programs that promote and support effective teaching and mentoring. The needs of diverse learners and scholars are met by our initiatives.
Current Objectives and Dimensions of the Work of CET
Teaching, Learning, Community, Organizational Environment and Advocacy
Teaching – Through its workshops, seminars, and programs CET addresses teaching issues at the individual, department, curricular and institutional levels. CET:
- Discovers teaching practice that is grounded in scholarship by collecting and selecting published scholarship on teaching and learning and making it available via its web site and Listserv messages.
- Acts as a portal to a rich array of web-based resources to facilitate the understanding and application of myriad teaching and mentoring practices.
- Evaluates and recognizes quality instruction and outstanding mentoring through a variety of awards and funding mechanisms.
Learning – CET raises awareness of how students learn, develop intellectually, and grow into active citizens and lifelong learners; how students perceive and articulate their learning needs; and how faculty might create a positive context for learning. CET:
- Facilitates collaboration and discussion, in workshops and seminar settings, which support the effective communication of knowledge about teaching and the love of learning by faculty in and out of the classroom, by graduate students in their roles as apprentice scholar/teachers, and by undergraduates as they take their place in the community of scholars.
- Stimulates faculty members, individually and in peer groups, to gather and analyze information about their own teaching and their students' learning and then assess the effectiveness of their teaching in order to promote continuous improvement and reflection on teaching and learning.
- Convenes the Undergraduate Fellows whose work and feedback should provide, in the years to come, very useful insights about undergraduate students and their learning.
- Incubates creative projects among its Faculty Fellows and faculty at USC for advancing teaching and learning on campus.
- Cultivates dialogue about teaching and learning through new faculty and new TA orientations as well as innovative and successful year-long programs (such as the CET TA Fellows Program).
Community – Through a diversity of media CET works to bring together and strengthen relationships between members of USC's instructional community: students, teachers, administrators, staff, and stakeholders. CET:
- Collaborates with university groups such as the USC Academic Senate, the USC Center for Work and Family Life, the Office for Residential Education, and the University Committee on Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure (UCAPT).
- Collaborates with the Provost's Technology Enhanced Learning and Distance Learning Initiative [TEL_DL Initiative] in order to promote and contribute to the assessment of the purposeful use of new media and information technology for teaching and learning at USC.
Organizational Environment and Advocacy – CET fosters an organizational culture in which teaching, learning and scholarship about teaching can flourish through individual consultations as well as active membership in university-wide committees. It advocates for individuals and groups working on teaching and learning initiatives through communities of practice and scholarly research.