The Framework for Teaching Excellence

All instructors strive for excellence as Exemplars, Enthusiasts, and Educators. Instructors whose research encompasses teaching and learning should additionally strive for excellence as Experimenters and Explorers.

Introducing the Five Elements of Teaching Excellence

The Framework for Teaching Excellence describes the five elements—Exemplar, Enthusiast, Educator, Experimenter, and Explorer—of teaching excellence at Purdue, descriptors for each element, and tools for holistic evaluation.


Exemplars are instructors who demonstrate a caring, approachable, and personable relationship with students and are empathetic to student needs. They establish a respectful learning environment and support, motivate, and mentor students. Descriptors for this foundational element include:

  • Caring
  • Inclusive, equity-minded
  • Approachable
  • Personable
  • Empathetic
  • Motivator
  • Mentor (personal)
  • Listener
  • Trustworthy
  • Accessible
  • Respectful of diversity
  • Humorous
  • Empowers Students
  • Academically Honest
  • Integrity

Exemplars in action


Enthusiasts are instructors who are subject matter experts, are passionate about their teaching and discipline, and who want to transfer that passion to their students, whether in the classroom or as a mentor. They prepare students for future careers and collaborate actively with colleagues to improve their instruction. Descriptors for this foundational element include:

  • Subject matter expert
  • Passionate about subject & student learning
  • Enjoys teaching
  • Inspires life-long learning
  • Provides career guidance
  • Engages in trans-/interdisciplinary collaborations

Enthusiasts in action


Educators are instructors who engage learners using a variety of learner-centered activities that are inclusive, motivating, relevant to the real world, application-based, and that promote creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. Descriptors for this foundational element include:

  • Communicates learning goals
  • Sets realistic expectations
  • Applies inclusive, equity-minded pedagogy
  • Connects to real world
  • Engages & challenges learners
  • Promotes creativity, critical thinking & problem-solving
  • Uses evidence-based instructional strategies
  • Relates theory to practice
  • Provides constructive feedback
  • Open to feedback
  • Critically examines own positionality

Educators in action


Experimenters are instructors who are ready to adapt to changes in audience, instructional method, and educational content. They proactively incorporate innovative instructional strategies and technologies using a variety of perspectives. Descriptors for this advanced element include:

  • Continuously improves course instruction & pedagogy
  • Implements innovative instructional methods to improve the process of learning
  • Enhance instruction via instructional strategies, activities, use of technology, applying learning theories, interdisciplinary collaborations, assessment & collaborative learning
  • Adapts to teaching emergencies

Experimenters in action


Explorers are scholars of teaching and learning and mentors and/or role models for other academics. Descriptors for this advanced element include:

  • Contributes to undergraduate educational experience
  • Creates scholarly contributions to teaching & learning
  • Shares teaching effectiveness
  • Engages in professional development
  • Initiates educational development opportunities
  • Applies knowledge to societal challenges

Explorers in action

Framework for Teaching Excellence

A common language for the development and documentation of teaching excellence at Purdue University

View Framework