Giving to the Faculty Teaching Excellence Program

The Faculty Teaching Excellence Program (FTEP) develops the art and craft of teaching among faculty. FTEP has been "teaching teaching" to professors like Professor Dunn since 1986, because good teaching is rarely innate, but is rather a learned skill.

FTEP is founded on the principles that there is no one right way to teach and that faculty learn best from one another. These processes vary by disciplines and vary with faculty members' own styles.


 Professor Jim Curry (center) with Jonathan Peeters (left) and Tye Pattenburg (right)


Benefits to the Community

The benefits that FTEP provides are many and varied:

A more qualified and productive workforce

with useful thinking skills
An enhanced value of degrees and thus

meaningful job opportunities
A higher caliber faculty and student body
Better retention of faculty by creating an

interactive, collaborative community
Enhanced prestige for CU

The Payback

"If someone were to do a cost-benefit analysis of this program, the results would be astonishing. FTEP has invested about $500 in me – but the skills I’ve learned will pay off over a lifetime of teaching at CU!"
– Professor Dunn

The Teaching Professor


 Physics Professor and President's Teaching Scholar John Taylor, CU's "Mr. Wizard"


FTEP enlists a corps of more than 70 Boulder faculty volunteers to assist with teaching. Social Sciences Professor Jerry Hauser and natural sciences Professor Susan Avery helped Professor Dunn reflect on course content and learning techniques. One of these techniques is “peer cell learning,” in which students learn to teach one another. It has become a successful element of her class structure.

Services Offered

In addition, Professor Dunn has access to both individual services and services of faculty learning communities. Both are voluntary and confidential. They include:

Consultation to Teaching

Provides individual, confidential consultation involving an in-class videotape, observation, and student feedback.

Early Career: Years 1-6 for Assistant Professors

Senior teaching faculty mentor, plan for and support assistant professors in developing their teaching and research and in bonding positions with the university to stay at CU for their lifetime in the academy. (80 percent of newly hired assistant professors have enrolled since 1996)

Faculty (Departmental, School and College) Liaisons for Technology in Teaching and Learning

Summer Institute: Increasing Student Engagement and Improving Learning with Educational Technologies and Course Re-design

Symposia on Teaching and Learning -"Performance in a Nutshell"

Videotaped and analytical review of teaching performance (416 faculty participants over the past 26 years)

Our Needs for the Future

CU-Boulder wishes to endow the Program. Funding opportunities include:

  • Two Endowed Teaching Scholars: $750,000 each
  • One Directorship: $3,000,000
  • Named Program: $10,000,000

Funding will help attract, honor and retain the best teaching and research talent to the university. According to Professor Dunn, having endowed teaching scholars on a full-time basis would be invaluable to entry level professors. It would allow for:

  • More one-on-one time
  • Ongoing consultation, with immediate feedback on the teaching experience
  • Fewer scheduling complications
  • Less hesitation about using a volunteer mentor’s valuable time


 Professor and Nobel Prize winner Carl Wieman, Physics Department, University of Colorado


Science Education Initiative (SEI)

The goal of the SEI is to achieve highly effective, evidence-based science education for all post-secondary students by applying the latest advances in pedagogical and organizational excellence.

There are two aspects to the SEI’s “evidence-based” approach:

    • Guiding efforts by the established evidence base (research) on how people learn science and effective pedagogical approaches
    • Obtaining evidence as to the student learning achieved with current and new practices

The SEI supports work at the Departmental level to achieve sustained widespread improvement in learning, based around three core components.

The CU Science Education Initiative is part of a partnership with the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CW-SEI) at the University of British Columbia CU and UBC actively collaborate on their efforts to improve science education on college campuses.

Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Geological Studies
Integrative Physiology
Molecular, Cellular, and Development Biology

Faculty Describe FTEP Involvement

I wanted to let you know of a terrific class experience I had yesterday, thanks to FTEP. I hope you will bask in the glow of richly-deserved satisfaction as you hear yet another example of how FTEP pulled a flagging instructor out of a hole and turned something into a really useful learning experience for our undergraduate and graduate students...:

I had been planning to lecture to the 28 students and four senior auditors in my Ancient Near East class (CLAS/ARTH 4269/5269) about the Median empire, which preceded the Achaemenid Persian empire we are about to turn to. The students had taken their midterm just before spring break and made me proud by their success!! And we are about to move to the Achaemenid Persian empire that is the focus of my own research, where we will linger for the rest of the semester.

In the meantime, though, the undergraduates have an assignment due tomorrow (they have to create a museum exhibit on the subject "King and Kingship in Ancient Mesopotamia").

As over spring break I was thinking about how best to talk about the Medes, I realized the best way was not to talk about them, period. The students don't need to listen to me lecture again! And actually, they don't really need to know about the Medes at all. Instead, I thought to myself, I would like to kick off the after-break season with a really engaged discussion, preferably one that might help the students articulate some of the concepts they would need to draw on to create effective museum exhibits. This could serve as a valuable recap of the course, would set them up for success on their museum project, and would get us on track for a rip-snorting end to the semester, thought I to myself.


But how best to make it happen? And what would be a good strategy? Hmmm. For inspiration, I turned to the FTEP website, to your compendium of good ideas on teaching and learning. I read through the whole thing. What a magnificent resource that is! It's so clear, and so diverse in its various approaches and strategies. I found it tremendously valuable.

I ended up devising four questions to get us started in class, and had the students work on them in groups of four. Here they are:
• What are the most important concepts covered in the course up to now?
• Pick one of them and figure out three or more works of art or architecture
you would use to help people learn about them, if you were teaching the course.
• What issues faced by one or more of the cultures we've discussed so far are
faced also by people in modern times? What are some of the similarities and
differences in the ways people have responded to those issues in antiquity and now?
• How is our understanding of antiquity affected by the evidence available? Pick
two different culture sequences discussed so far in this class and analyze the
differences in evidence and understanding.

I tried to help out with leading questions when a group got stuck, but otherwise stayed out of it. Then we reconvened to talk about their ideas. I was flabbergasted by the sophistication of what they had to say! And we were able to use their comments to move the discussion in wholly new, unplanned-by-me and tremendously valuable, directions. It was a great class! And it could have been awful. It was saved by FTEP.

Indeed one of the senior auditors sent me this message later in the day:
Beth, what a wonderful class today: stimulating, thoughtful and very
good responsive students. ...I wouldn't have missed it for anything.

So Mary Ann -- thanks to you, and thanks also to FTEP, for helping with inspiration and practical suggestions! I was stymied, and you made it possible to have a valuable class that I think did all I had hoped it would do in terms of recapping what we have done and setting up the students for the rest of the semester.

- Elspeth Dusinberre, Associate Professor of Classics



The Faculty Teaching Excellence Program will grow stronger with your interest and participation. For more information on how you can help, please contact:

Director: Mary Ann Shea, Ph.D.
Program Assistant: Meg Clarke

Faculty Teaching Excellence Program
University of Colorado at Boulder
360 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0360
Tel: 303-492-4985 Fax: 303-492-7406
E-mail: ftep@Colorado.Edu


Download a PDF version of the Fundraising Brochure (February 2000).

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