Case #14: Team-Building and Assessing Impact Through a Centre Review Using Multiple Lenses on Change


DISCIPLINE: Engineering, Academic Professional Development
RESEARCH AREAS: Multidisciplinary communities of practice, student and faculty learning, impact of academic development initiatives and engaging in the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL)


Our Centre, situated within a research-intensive institution, recently conducted a self-study to assess the ways in which our work has developed knowledge, practice, policy, and impact among teachers and learners at our university. Due to a high turn-over of academic staff shortly before I started (Fall 2016), the self-study provided an opportunity for us all to learn much about the work of the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) as well as the reputation, quality and impact of our services.


The process of generating the self-study was a distributed effort involving all CTL staff. Due to the complex nature of intended audiences and impacts as well as our range of services (from one-off workshops and consultations to three-year course redesign projects, and delivery formats including face-to-face, blended, and online), we adopted a complexity-sensitive approach. In a collaborative and iterative process, all staff contributed to the development of two logic models which listed everyone’s activities in supporting and developing teaching at the community level (instructors, departments, programs) and institutional level, and which made explicit our theories of change and assumptions of our impacts. These logic models promoted understanding of each other’s work across the unit and guided the design of a survey and key informant interviews for the self-study.


In reflecting on my personal approach to leadership, feminist models resonate most strongly for me, as they position leadership as multi-dimensional and multi-directional, are relational rather than transactional, and emphasize community, cooperation, and mutual benefit. In terms of the Five-Pillar Model, these affective elements, which are also strongly action-oriented in nature, facilitate mentorship and empowerment of staff. I also find the concept of reframing extremely useful, “a deliberate process of shifting perspectives to see the same situation in multiple ways and through different lenses” (Bolman & Gallos, p. 13). For example, the self-study helped us (i) develop procedures, roles, and reporting relationships to better align our efforts with campus goals (architectural perspective), (ii) demonstrate how we can meet the needs of multiple constituencies (political perspective), (iii) and promoted openness, transparency, effective teamwork and collective accountability within the CTL (human resources perspective).

“In reflecting on my personal approach to leadership, feminist models resonate most strongly for me, as they position leadership as multi-dimensional and multi-directional, are relational rather than transactional, and emphasize community, cooperation, and mutual benefit.”


The interesting results and questions that arose from our self-study are informing our future program and evaluation planning. For example, data revealed differences in the nature of services accessed and sought across career progression. Also, those who accessed CTL consultation services have implemented important changes in their teaching, and their students have reported a better experience in their classes significantly more than other self-study participants. Because assessing our work in a resource-efficient way is a pressing challenge for all CTLs, we will also disseminate our study design and process so that others may benefit from this work.


Blackmore, J. (2013). A feminist critical perspective on educational leadership. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 16(2), 139-154.

Bolman, L.G., & Gallos, J.V. (2010). Reframing academic leadership. John Wiley & Sons.

Kezar, A. & Lester, J. (2011). Enhancing campus capacity for leadership: An examination of grassroots leaders. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Miller-Young, J. & Boman, J. (2017). Learning from decoding across disciplines and within communities of practice. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 150, 97–101.

Miller-Young, J., Anderson, C., Kiceniuk, D., Mooney, J., Riddell, J., Schmidt Hanbidge, A., Ward, V., Wideman, M., & Chick, N. (2017). Leading up in the scholarship of teaching and learning. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 8(2), 1-14.


Headshot of Janice Miller Young

A Professor in Engineering, Janice Miller-Young is the Academic Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at the University of Alberta, Canada. Her previous position was the Director of the Institute for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Mount Royal University.


As Academic Director of CTL, my role includes building a strong and stable team of academic staff, recruiting part-time seconded faculty members, contributing to institutional teaching culture and policy through a variety of central committees and working groups, and further strengthening connections between CTL and the faculties and other CTLs across the country.



Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE)
International Consortium for Educational Developers (ICED)
International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL)
Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE)
Educational Developers Caucus (EDC)