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May 13, 2013

CIE director focuses on campus culture of student success

Chantal Levesque-Bristol

Chantal Levesque-Bristol, director of the Center for Instructional Excellence and professor of educational studies. (Purdue University photo/Steven Yang)
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Chantal Levesque-Bristol, through the Center for Instructional Excellence (CIE), has been helping the University create a culture that fosters instructional excellence and students' academic success since February 2012.

As CIE's director, Levesque-Bristol leads her staff in providing West Lafayette campus faculty with an array of tools to transform their academic courses into dynamic, learning-oriented experiences. Chief among CIE's endeavors to improve student learning outcomes is IMPACT (Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation).

IMPACT is a campus-wide initiative to redesign classes. Its aim is to engage students more fully in their learning, thereby improving retention and completion in foundational classes that serve students across the entire campus. Three faculty cohorts so far have worked together to redesign targeted courses. A fourth cohort will begin doing so this fall.

"Through IMPACT and other initiatives, CIE is a leading partner in bringing about course transformation at an institutional level and therefore improving learning outcomes," Levesque-Bristol says.  Other collaborating units include Purdue Libraries, Discovery Learning Research Center (DLRC), ITaP and Purdue Extended Campus.

"Very broadly, my goals as CIE director are to create an on-campus culture in which faculty's teaching is recognized and valued as much as their research. We are becoming nationally recognized for fostering learning at all levels, engaging in the scholarship of teaching and learning through IMPACT, and we want to continue that momentum."

A significant way IMPACT seeks to improve pedagogy is through research that the cohorts conduct about best learning practices, Levesque-Bristol says. In fact, focusing on the scholarship of pedagogy is a main way CIE seeks to transform and improve learning on campus.

CIE is promoting student learning and success also by focusing on diversity and inclusion in the classroom, increasing service-learning opportunities for students, offering regular workshops on teaching and pedagogy for faculty members as well as teaching assistants. CIE also is devoted to helping faculty create collaborative classroom environments through the use of technology, Levesque-Bristol says.

CIE also is using technology, she says, to provide teaching resources to faculty. This summer, CIE will launch its "Just in Time" Teaching Library, which will be an online collection of short videos about an array of topics related to teaching.

The videos each will be about five minutes long. They will be clips from CIE workshops, lectures and other events the center has held, and each video will be linked to an article about the subject addressed. Eventually, Levesque-Bristol says, the library will be fully searchable and will include hundreds of videos made by Purdue faculty and staff.

A professor of educational studies, Levesque-Bristol became CIE's director after spending three years as director of the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning at Missouri State University. She decided to come to Purdue, she says, because of CIE's role as a leader in academic course transformation, and because improving student learning outcomes has been championed at the University's highest levels. Purdue also is a nationwide leader, she says, in the ongoing effort to improve learning outcomes at all higher education institutions.

Levesque-Bristol plans to keep CIE focused on improving faculty's access to teaching resources and on researching and implementing the best ways to improve students' academic success at Purdue.

"We hope to continue our work to further the field of scholarly knowledge about teaching and to apply that knowledge to teaching and learning here at Purdue," Levesque-Bristol says. "Keeping the focus on student learning and success is our primary goal."

Writer: Amanda Hamon, 49-61325, ahamon@purdue.edu