Teaching and Learning

The Coulter Faculty Commons exists to support a campus community centered on excellence in teaching and learning.  We provide a wide variety of services to support teaching and learning, including consultations, assessments, workshops, publications, and more.  These services are available to Western Carolina University faculty, staff, and graduate students.


All consultations and services are voluntary, confidential and are conducted with high professional standards. Consultation topics include, but are not limited to, course analysis, rubrics, syllabus and schedule construction, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning projects, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and hybrid course design.  Consultations may also cover work-life balance and other issues related to faculty support.  To request any of these services, please contact the Coulter Faculty Commons, or visit our offices in Hunter Library.



The two main types of assessment at WCU are Course Assessment and Program Assessment. Course Assessment evaluates the effectiveness of instruction whereas Program Assessment evaluates if a program serves its intended purpose.

Making better use of assessment data improves the value of any course or program in the following ways:

  • Stronger course design
  • Thorough analysis of assessment data
  • Effective education about assessment tools
  • Better understanding of assessment processes
  • Increased usability of assessment results

Academic Integrity

Honesty is an important part of the education process and needs to be maintained to make college worth more than a degree alone. WCU created the Academic Integrity Policy to uphold this standard, focusing on four main offenses that threaten the quality of student education:

1. Cheating- The use or attempted use of unauthorized materials, information, or study aides in any academic exercise

2. Plagiarism- Representing the words or ideas of someone else in one’s own academic work without proper citations

3. Fabrication- Creating or falsifying information or citations

4. Facilitation- Helping or attempting to help the commission of a violation of the Academic Integrity Policy

Academic Integrity Support helps to detect and prevent offenses using two important methods:

1. Consultation- Instructional developers at the Coulter Faculty Commons work with faculty members and graduate teaching assistants to encourage academic honesty through course assignment and design

2. SafeAssign- SafeAssign is a tool that compares student papers with different databases to detect unoriginal content and help students understand copyright laws and regulations. This service is provided to faculty and staff using Blackboard to prevent unauthorized use of copyrighted materials and avoid unintentional violations of the Academic Integrity Policy.

Academic Integrity Support offers several benefits to help maintain the truthfulness of education:

  • A well constructed course discourages academic dishonesty
  • Properly written assignments prevent students from needing to be dishonest
  • SafeAssign makes easier for instructors to detect plagiarism in student work
  • Preventing unintentional violations of copyright laws makes research more meaningful
  • Educating students on the dynamics of plagiarism makes it less likely to happen
  • Using proper citations is an important skill for all types of research


Small Group Analysis is a method used to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching strategies in order to help instructors improve their techniques and offer better educational experiences. This exercise provides the instructor with constructive feedback from students by keeping the suggestions anonymous and encouraging free communication by eliminating the pressure of direct confrontation.

Small Group Analysis is relatively simple and takes only five easy steps to complete:

Step One: Instructors submit requests to schedule a date and time with an impartial member of the Faculty Commons.

Step Two : The Instructor and CFC staff member meet to determine the purpose of the SGA.

Step Three: A CFC staff member attends arranged class period and takes 30 minutes without the instructor present to obtain student feedback.

Step Four: The Faculty Commons staff member formulates the summaries into a report explaining the student feedback.

Step Five: The CFC staff member and the Instructor have a final consultation discussing the report and possible next steps.

Small Group Analysis offers multiple advantages to benefit long-term improvement:

  • The anonymous nature makes students more comfortable sharing their feedback.
  • The student feedback tells instructors which elements of their teaching methods are effective or could be more effective.


For more information, please contact Terry Pollard at 227-2761.

Office of Web Services