Hope Holmberg, Campus Editor

Students can now have an impact on the way classes at Miami University are conducted through a new observation program called Student Consultants on Teaching (SCoT).

According to Cecilia Shore, director of the Center for Enhancement of Learning, Teaching and University Assessment, the program, which consists of three trained student consultants, has proven to be a success so far and efforts to expand the program in fall 2010 are currently underway.

The program, which is modeled after a similar program at Brigham Young University, began fall 2009.

“It (the program) allows the students to see the backstage aspects of teaching and the teacher’s rationale behind what they are doing,” Shore said.

In the SCoT program, undergraduate students are trained to observe the way faculty members conduct their classes on a moment-to-moment basis.

“We basically go in and take detailed notes and then meet with the professor after the class and give them a typed response as well as our feedback from a student perspective,” senior Kristen Altnau, a student consultant, said.

Altnau said it provides teachers with an opportunity to get student feedback halfway through the semester.

“It kind of gave me a say in my education,” senior Jennifer Kollman, a student consultant, said. “I don’t feel like there is any other program like this where you can give a faculty member advice about how to teach students.”

Altnau has sat through a wide range of classes including both political science and anthropology classes.

“I think this is a good tool for teachers and I think it would help increase attendance in classes,” junior Bridget Donohue, a psychology major, said.

Shore said the consultants are intentionally paired with teachers who they have never dealt with before. The observations that take place are completely confidential between the student and the professor.

“I think they are interested in what we have to say,” Altnau said. “We provide perspective they have not been able to have before. I think they find it refreshing to have a new set of eyes come in.”

Shore said student consultants are able to understand factors that motivate a professor to conduct their class in a certain way, such as a high percentage of students with a learning disability in the class.

“From a students perspective, I think it is very easy to judge a professor and not realize there are specific reasons they do the things that they do,” Altnau said.

Altnau hopes to see the program at least double in size.

“It’s a great way to develop a relationship with professors and it’s really a great way to give productive feedback to a superior,” Altnau said.

Shore said this allows for collaborative relationships.

“The faculty member has requested this service so it is information they really want to know,” Shore said.

Student consultants must have junior or senior status in the fall and can be recruited through faculty recommendations. They can also recommend themselves.

The program is currently recruiting members for next year. An informational meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 12 in the Harrison Room in the Shriver Center.  Application forms are available on the following Web site: http://www.units.muohio.edu/celt/resources/student_consulting.php.

Faculty who wish to nominate a student for the role of student consultant can do so by contacting the Center for the Enhancement of Learning, Teaching and University Assessment at (513) 529-9266 or celt@muohio.edu.