How to Access/Request this Service

To request Instructional Development services, please contact the Coulter Faculty Commons.

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Instructional Design

Service Description

With all of its work with faculty being voluntary, formative and confidential, the Coulter Faculty Commons, located in Hunter Library, offers the following resources, activities and programs:

Support Teaching and Research

  • Support for faculty in all aspects of their teaching, research design and publication
  • Support for aligning syllabi to the Quality Enhancement Plan outcomes
  • Training and support for Blackboard, the university’s online learning management system
  • A Faculty Sandbox, a collaborative area where faculty can receive one-on-one technology support to enhance pedagogy
  • A Digital Media Specialist for the support of media projects
  • Individual consultations with faculty about course design and pedagogical issues (in the Coulter Faculty Commons or the faculty member’s office)
  • Workshops and other learning opportunities on a variety of pedagogical and instructional technology topics (course design, syllabus construction, assessment strategies and practices, etc.)

Leader in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

  • The scholarship of teaching and learning as the center for faculty development
  • Facilitation of the university initiative, The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning at Western Carolina University 
  • Member of AAHE, Carnegies Campus Institutional Leadership Program, the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the North Carolina Teaching and Learning with Technology Consortium, The North Carolina Learning Repository, the Southern Regional Faculty Instructional Development Consortium and the Professional & Organizational Development (POD) Network in Higher Education
  • MountainRise – e journal on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Renaissance of Teaching and Learning Booklet Series, presentations, workshops and panel discussions about aspects of teaching and learning
  • Certificate of Professional Development in Teaching and Learning (a one-year program in active, reflective and collaborative faculty development)

Learning Communities

  • Formation of “Faculty Learning Communities” for year-long focus upon selected aspects of teaching and learning
  • Other Faculty collaborative groups such as the Qualitative Research Group and the Untenured Faculty Organization (UFO)


  • New Faculty Orientation each year
  • An annual faculty Summer Institute on Teaching and Learning
  • An annual Scholarship of Teaching & Learning event
  • Readers’ Roundtables, faculty book discussion groups
  • An annual Welcome Luncheon for Faculty and the annual Faculty Appreciation Event
  • A variety of informal events


  • Constantly updated website for events and resources as well as a site for video streaming for special events for faculty who cannot attend or come to campus
  • Publications: Faculty Forum (monthly opinion piece), Renaissance of Teaching and Learning Booklet Series and the Faculty Commons Newsletter, Connections
  • Electronic tutorials for various educational technologies

Programs to Support Teaching

The following programs and services are offered through the Coulter Faculty Commons:

Small Group Analysis

This voluntary program provides formative feedback for course improvement and involves Faculty Commons consultants visiting a class at mid-semester to obtain information regarding the learning experiences in the course from the student’s viewpoint. A confidential report is provided to each faculty member containing recommendations and suggestions for course improvement based on the data collected. This service is also available for online classes.

Online Course Assessment

The Online Course Assessment is a service where Faculty Commons consultants review developed or developing online courses for the purposes of providing feedback related to course design and other best practices for course development. The service utilizes the Online Course Assessment Tool (OCAT) developed by WCU Faculty Fellows and Faculty Commons staff.

Microgrant Program

This program, established in 1981, promotes quality teaching by providing fund to support travel, subsistence, and registration/tuition expenses associated with workshop attendance, short course participant, mini-internships and other off-campus activities related to teaching improvement. Maximum award is normally $700.

Provost’s Instructional Improvement Grant

Established in 1975, these grants provide modest support for innovative projects aimed at improving the quality and effectiveness of instruction within a single course or group of related courses.  Individual faulty member or groups of faculty may apply for grant to support a specific instructional proposal. Typical award: $1,500.

SoTL Grants

The Coulter Endowment for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning funds faculty grants each year for the purpose of funding a SoTL project. Faculty who wish to research their teaching and go public with the results may apply.

Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching

This award is designed to encourage, recognize, and reward superior teaching and meritorious performance on a North Carolina University system-wide basis. Teaching faculty who have earned tenure and been employed at Western Carolina University for at least seven years are eligible for nomination. The amount of this award is $7,500.

Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award

This award is designed to encourage, recognize, and reward superior teaching and meritorious performance. Teaching faculty with more than 2 years service at Western Carolina University are eligible for nomination of they have not received this award in the preceding five years. Amount of award: $2,000

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award

This award encourages and recognizes a faculty member engaging in scholarship that focuses upon teaching and learning (SoTL) and then applying the results of that scholarship to courses taught so that students experience significant learning in those courses. The award emphasizes the integration of research about teach and learning and the practical application of the research to teaching itself. Evidence of the learning outcomes with students of the applications of SoTL findings is needed. Any full-time faculty member who has taught at Western Carolina University for at least one year may be nominated by a faculty member, department head, dean, or by self-nomination. Award amount: $1,000.

JM Robinson Teaching Award for e-Learning

This award honors outstanding work in e-learning. The Jay M. Robinson Teaching Award for e-Learning was awarded for the first time in the 2006-2007 academic year and will be supported annually for five academic years at a level of $1000 from the Jay M. Robinson (JMR) endowment. This award will be accorded each academic year to one WCU instructor who teaches a 100% computer-networked online course. Courses distributed primarily via ITV are not eligible for this award. Tenured, untenured, full-time, part-time, tenure track and adjunct instructors are eligible, provided that any nominee has taught at least two three-credit graduate and/or undergraduate courses fully online during the year of the award and/or the year immediately preceding, and provided that s/he neither serves nor has served as an e-learning faculty fellow.

Faculty Fellow Program

The Faculty Fellow Program, begun in 1988, provides one-quarter to one-half time release for faculty members to serve in the Faculty Commons. While experiences in the center may change from year to year, they may include publishing The Faculty Forum newsletter, or support for faculty in areas such as e-learning pedagogy, statistical analysis and research design, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.


No requirements


Faculty member or Graduate Teaching Assistant at Western Carolina University.

Service Availability

The Coulter Faculty Commons is open Monday-Friday 8:00-5:00 except for University holidays.


Support for Instructional Development needs can be obtained at the Coulter Faculty Commons.

For More Information

Coulter Faculty Commons Web Site

Charge for this Service

No charge


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