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About CTE

Representation of the Centre for teaching excellence vision, a venn diagram with excellence, innovation, and inquiryMission and vision

CTE’s mission is to inspire teaching excellence, innovation, and inquiryWe do this by collaborating with individuals, academic departments, and academic support units to foster capacity and community around teaching and to promote an institutional culture that values effective teaching and meaningful learning.

Our vision as a unit is to inspire teaching excellenceinnovation, and inquiry. Consult our strategic plan for more information about our plans, core activities, and strategic priorities. 

Breadth of programs

The bulk of our work is focused on inspiring and fostering teaching excellence.  All levels and ranks, from teaching assistants and postdoctoral fellows to new professors and senior leaders, attend our workshops and intensive programming. Faculty also seek consultations on course design and delivery issues for both face-to-face and blended learning courses. We work extensively with departments and whole faculties on curriculum renewal and program design along with custom programming. Finally, with more than 2,500 course offerings annually in Waterloo LEARN, a significant role for us is to support basic and advanced uses of this learning management system. 

The rigorous Certificate in University Teaching  (CUT) for graduate students began in 1998 as one of the first Canadian comprehensive programs. In January 2011, we launched a new pre-requisite program – the Fundamentals of University Teaching – to serve as a pre-requisite to the CUT. Elements of this have been adapted for a Postdoctoral Fellows series.  In May 2012, we launched revised core programming for new faculty members.  Compulsory in Engineering and Applied Health Sciences, all new faculty members are invited to participate. 

To celebrate teaching excellence, we administer annual teaching awards and invite faculty recipients to open their classrooms to their colleagues.  We often present about CTE’s work to international visitors, and in 2010 and 2014, we provided training programs to faculty members from King Saud University, Saudi Arabia. Our instructional developers are sought-after facilitators in the profession more widely and on campus. We also work collaboratively with the Faculty Teaching Fellows and Associate Dean, Teaching, to share ideas, provide joint programming, and promote an institutional culture that values teaching.


CTE curates popular online resources for teaching assistants, faculty, and teaching staff; for example, we have developed more than 100 tip sheets on practical topics.  These tip sheets are accessed almost 43,000 times per month by people from Waterloo and around the world.  We publish the newsletter Teaching Matters each term, and all members of our staff blog about current events in teaching and learning at Waterloo and current issues in higher education more generally.

We are also here to support innovation in teaching and learning.  We investigate emerging technologies and share our observations and recommendations with our university community and beyond through workshops and our online resources.  We also encourage alternative ways of assessing student learning.  For example, e-portfolios are being used at Waterloo to help students themselves integrate their learning.  Recently, we launched a revised Learning Innovation and Teaching Enhancement (LITE) grants program, with support from the office of the Associate Vice-President, Academic, to promote further innovation and pedagogical development. 

CTE provided leadership on the university-wide Task Force on Innovative Teaching Practices to Promote Deep Learning, whose report highlights 35 examples of innovative instruction at Waterloo in courses and across programs.  Many recommendations from the report have been implemented; the full report is available on our website.  CTE will continue to highlight examples of innovative instructional practices through venues such as our online teaching stories and the experiential education series at which faculty members and their students share their experiences.


Finally, we foster inquiry about teaching and learning.  CTE offers a range of services to help our clients explore more systematically the theory and practice of teaching and learning in the disciplines. We run learning communities that bring together instructors with a common interest or concern to learn from one another and the extensive research literature in higher education.  Graduate students and instructors investigate the scholarship of teaching and learning in our CUT program and through the LITE grants program, respectively.  As a venue for sharing exemplary practices and formal pedagogical research, CTE organizes the Opportunities and New Directions conference annually. We attract more than 120 internal and external participants to this event, helping to facilitate knowledge exchange across institutions. Many of our own staff present and publish actively in the field of higher education as well.

Overall, we help to build capacity in and community around teaching and learning. Our role is more facilitative than directive.  We provide spaces for conversations and exploration.  We ask questions that get our clients thinking deeply, and we listen to their needs.  We bring people together whose paths might not otherwise cross. Waterloo’s commitment to excellence and innovation in teaching and learning is embodied in CTE and the people who make use of our services and support.

More about CTE

Annual Reports and Newsletters. Reports on CTE's annual activities (Accessible PDF), and an archive of CTE newsletters

Organizational structure. A chart showing our areas of support, and who works within them. 

Staff research and service. Year-by-year reports that highlight our impact and professional accomplishments.

Guest presentations. Experts in higher education whom we have hosted. 

Institutional Documents

These university documents inform and shape CTE's work:

Fast Facts

For the 2016-17 fiscal year:

CTE staff engaged in 3,755 consultations with 1,290 instructors, staff, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows.

CTE staff delivered 252 workshops to 1,116 unique instructors, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and staff members. 

CTE staff facilitated 99 curriculum events and consultations for 39 departments involving 393 instructors. 

76 new faculty members were provided with workshops specially designed for their career stage. 

CTE staff delivered Teaching Development Seminars to 45 postdoctoral fellows, bringing the running total since the inception of that program to 210.

34 graduate students completed our Certificate in University Teaching program, bringing the running total since the inception of that program to 415. 

167 graduate students completed our Fundamentals of University Teaching program, bringing the running total since the inception of that program to 814. 

263 Waterloo staff and faculty attended our annual teaching and learning conference

90% of instructors rated CTE’s faculty-oriented workshops as excellent or good.

96% of graduate students rated CTE’s graduate student workshops as excellent or good.

CTE staff gave 37 presentations at conferences or at other institutions, published 3 articles and 4 book chapters, and received 5 research grants. 

CTE staff administered 2 university-level teaching award programs: the Distinguished Teacher Award for faculty members and the AETS award for graduate students.

CTE staff administered 2 types of grants: the Learning Innovation and Teaching Enhancement seed grants and full grants.

CTE's online resources received more than 1.2 million views. 

The CTE blog received more than 12,000 views.

Recent Accomplishments

For the 2016-17 fiscal year:

Engaged in a comprehensive self-study of our programs, our services, and our processes to prepare for CTE’s external review

Offered additional programming related to teaching and assessing writing as well as assessing learning outcomes

Hired a contract Communications Associate, who supports external teaching awards and enhances communications about teaching and the work of CTE

Selected future initiatives

Launching our new strategic priorities in 2018

Launching an Assessment Institute, during which individuals, course teams, and program teams will redevelop key assignments and tests over two days of design work and peer feedback