Faculty Consulting Cycle for Leaders

This section is about the process of engaging in 1:1 conversations with faculty about their teaching practices.

Consulting: For Supporting Faculty in Teaching and Learning Development

Having a helpful conversation with a colleague is likely the most important skill any one could have. This page outlines a consulting cycle for educational developers who work with faculty in teaching and learning. A possible set of phases is outlined along with corresponding questions. 

Attribution: Liesel Knaack, Tine Reimers and Bill Roberson, Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning, Vancouver Island University, August 2017. CC BY-SA 4.0

Handout:  Educational Development Consulting Cycle

Educational developers committed to promoting effective teaching and learning practices often make the same error we advise faculty members to avoid: focusing on content (solutions, knowledge, resources) over process (listening, learning, supporting) in consultations with faculty members. 

The consulting cycle requires an initial establishment of a trusting relationship with a faculty member. The rest of the cycle focuses on building a collaborative environment that is non-judgemental focusing on the faculty member’s capabilities situated within the context and culture of the situation. These four phases rotate around from Exploring to Inquiring to Actioning to Celebrating—and back to Exploring again as the consulting relationship continues.

Asking Good Questions During Consulting Cycle

Educational developers need to have a good collection of questions to explore during a consultation. Here are examples of questions to ask at the four main phases of the Consulting Cycle. 

Handout of Page:  Consulting Questions and Listening Deeply

Exploring: Questions

  • What do the student-teacher interactions look like in your classes?
  • What do the student-student interactions look like in your classes?
  • What is working well? What is not?
  • What is important to you about this?
  • What would your ideal class look like?
  • What kinds of activities would lead to the types of change you are interested in?
  • Tell me about what is going on in your practice (or class or course). What happened?
  • What do you think is going on?
  • What’s at stake here?
  • What would you like to see happen?

Inquiring: Questions

  • What is another perspective you could have about this?
  • What do you want to happen?
  • What is important to you about this?
  • In what ways are you stuck? What would it take to get unstuck?
  • What are the potential risks? Benefits?
  • What other options can you think of?
  • If you did X, what do you think might happen?
  • What work do you need to do to get to that stage/place?
  • What if this happened? How would you feel?

Actioning: Questions

  • What questions about teaching and learning are you trying to answer?
  • What are you wanting to do?
  • When are you going to do it?
  • Do you want to co-plan or work together on X?
  • What obstacles might you meet along the way?
  • What will be the hardest part in taking this action?
  • What support do you need? How and when will you require this support?
  • What first steps will you take?
  • How will you know that you are making progress toward these goals?
  • How will you measure success? How will you know you have been successful?
  • How can I be of help to you? What other resources can I provide?

Celebrating: Questions

  • Tell me about what happened?
  • How did the students react or respond?
  • How would you rate the outcome? Why do you think it went that way?
  • What went well? Not so well?
  • What did you learn?
  • What will you do differently the next time? The same?

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