Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Teaching and Learning

Committee Chair

Kyle Miller

Committee Member

John Hooker


This dissertation examines Centers for Teaching and Learning (CTLs) and how they are perceived by the instructors and employees who work in higher education. CTLs focus on accessing and assessing faculty and staff while creating programs and research which offers insight into the faculty, instructional, and organizational needs of an institution. The needs that CTLs focus on include the professional, educational, instructional, and, sometimes, personal development of employees. Yet, the theories and practices which drive the research of educational development—specifically CTLs—are fragmented due to the interdisciplinary nature, vast scope, and practical-focus of directors and researchers.

This study builds upon previous research regarding CTLs and scholarship of higher education institutions. Using Grounded Theory, this study inductively analyzes survey and interview data from instructors and CTL employees across the United States to answer the following questions: (1) How do instructors and CTL employees perceive the role and work of CTLs in supporting the teaching and learning process in higher education? (2) What role does outreach play in the position of a CTL employee to provide support to instructors at a university or college? and (3) How do characteristics within a university structure the practice, theory, and outreach of the CTL unit?

Through an open-ended survey completed by 139 people and 13 interviews with those who work within higher education, data were coded and thematized to determine how CTLs are viewed on higher education campuses. During the recursive analysis process, themes were better understood as connected amongst each other and built from prior research. Although participants represented a variety of campuses and backgrounds, four interconnected themes were identified: (1) Outreach, (2) Motivations, (3) Expectations, and (4) Change Agents. These themes work together to help show how CTLs are viewed, received, and utilized on campuses.

The data allowed for comparison among different types of universities and CTLs to better inform the outreach and understand the practical and theoretical practices of CTLs. It has the potential to help CTLs continue to expand, reach out, and develop programming, theory, and practice in ways that are valued by instructors. Through understanding how instructors view quality educational development, based on a number of characteristics, quality programming can create audience adaptive messages to ensure quality learning and development. Further, instructional developers can better recognize how their programming is understood, valued, and appreciated.


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