CETL Overview


The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) facilitates, supports, and enhances the teaching and learning process at Dalton State. Our goal is to ensure that all students have a transformative educational experience by providing evidence-based culturally responsive opportunities for development and resources focused on motivating, engaging, and including students. 

The purpose of our work is to:

  • facilitate and promote conversations focused on evidence-based teaching.
  • provide opportunities for colleagues to explore strategies for engagement, retention, & success.
  • provide opportunities for fellows to run programs that engage teaching colleagues in enhancing their work with our students in an area of their interest.
  • provide opportunities for peer-observation of teaching with tailored personal consultations.
  • provide targeted support for colleagues teaching first-year students and high impact practice courses.
  • celebrate and promote the excellent work we do in teaching and student success.

We are located in Roberts Library 240 and open 10am-2pm Monday through Thursday. You can email us at More information on our work and opportunities can be found below. 


The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning is a vibrant community and model of inclusive excellence where faculty, staff, and students come together to enhance teaching, learning, and student success. Through professional development opportunities, research on the scholarship of teaching and learning, collaborations, and reflective practice, we promote culturally responsive pedagogy and ensure that all students have a transformative educational experience.


The mission of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning is to facilitate, support, and enhance the teaching and learning process at Dalton State College. The Center serves to ultimately improve student success and achievement of learning outcomes by promoting the creation of effective learning environments through the provision of resources and development opportunities.


Connection, Compassion, Purpose, Support, Inspiration, Inclusion, Transformation.



Marina Smitherman is the Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Dalton State College. A member of the Professional Organizational Development (POD) Network since 2014, she currently serves as an Editor of their peer-reviewed journal ‘To Improve the Academy’. With two decades of college teaching experience, Dr. Smitherman has specialized in Educational and Organizational Development serving previously as Director of the Center for Academic Excellence leading High Impact Practice curricular innovations, and currently as Principal Investigator on a HHMI Inclusive Excellence 3 grant. Dr. Smitherman won the University System of Georgia Felton Jenkins Jr. Faculty Hall of Fame Teaching Excellence Award in 2020. She is an author of “Taking Flight: Making your Teaching and Learning Center Soar” published with Stylus. As CETL Director, Dr. Smitherman represents Dalton State on the University System of Georgia Regents Advisory Committee for Teaching and Learning (GA-CTL RAC), the Leadership Success Developers Consortium, the LEAP State Georgia Executive and Steering Committees, along with college-wide committees of relevance.

Assistant Director

Dr. Alicia Briganti is Associate Professor of Psychology & serves as our CETL Assistant Director. Email her at


2023-2024 CETL Fellows

Mr. David Brown is Reference Librarian & Fellow in Instructional Technology. Email him at

Dr. Jenny Crisp is Professor of English & Fellow focused on Teaching in the age of AI. Email her at

Dr. Elizabeth Dunaway is Associate Professor of Psychology and Fellow in Experiential Learning. Email her at

Dr. Kim Hays is Associate Professor of Biology & Fellow in Inclusive Excellence through the HHMI Inclusive Excellence 3 grant. Email her at 

Dr. Ryan Hoffpauir is Assistant Professor of Education & Fellow in Pedagogy and Part-Time Faculty. Email him at



We believe that faculty have different interests and needs for development in teaching and learning across  the course of their careers. Consequently, we offer a range of programming and topics to meet those differing needs focused on evidence-based teaching and learning in response to changing student needs as different generations enroll and changes in the higher education landscape.  

  1. Faculty Academy – a year-long program for faculty new to Dalton State that covers a wide variety of evidence-based teaching tools as options for future teaching goals with a cohort-based networking experience.

  2. Scholarly Teaching Fellows – The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) involves scholarly inquiry into how students learn and how teaching affects student learning. CETL supports faculty members conducting SoTL with a year-long program guiding them through a SoTL project, with support to present or publish their findings.

  3. Peer Observations of Teaching – These confidential conversations usually include a discussion of a peer classroom observation but can also include review of student evaluations of teaching, course materials, or focus groups with students, and through this process look for opportunities for growth. Request an observation HERE.

  4. Celebration of Teaching – runs in April to spotlight the excellent work we achieved together in teaching throughout the academic year including faculty and student success stories.

  5. Thank a Teacher Program – an opportunity for students to express appreciation for the help and support they have received from their faculty. This program is promoted the last four weeks of each semester but Request a Thank a Teacher letter here.

  6. Faculty Development Day – held in August with a Keynote speaker and breakout sessions.

  7. Bold Talks – a conference-style event providing an opportunity to share teaching and learning techniques jointly hosted by CETL and the Faculty Development Committee.

  8. Faculty Learning Communities and Communities of Practice – organized by the CETL fellows and other interested  faculty and staff around a topic of their interest to support student success. of faculty who use different evidence-based teaching techniques in the classroom. 

  9. Workshop Series – workshops targeted at evidence-based techniques for student success, retention, and engagement.

  10. Pints & Pedagogy - with more and more of our work moving virtually, Pints & Pedagogy is a chance to socialize with colleagues off-campus alongside a brief discussion of an emerging topic. 

  11. On-Demand Development – podcasts, archived workshops, and other recorded content for learning on your own time.

If you have suggestions for us or would like to take a leadership role in our programming, please email us at 

We all work collaboratively together to educate our students. CETL is a collaborative endeavor as a result. Opportunities to get engaged with us and our work include fellowships, leading a faculty learning community, or requesting a confidential peer observation of teaching alongside a personal consultation tailored to your goals for development of your teaching and learning. 


Each year we recruit fellows who either offer programming centered around a topic of their interest or lead existing programming alongside our directors. Fellows meet regularly to provide input into what CETL offers and to discuss best practices. Previous topics include inclusive excellence, scholarship of teaching and learning, instructional technology, pedagogy, among many others. Fellows receive a stipend for their work and applications for the following academic year are sent in late Spring semester. 


Peer observations of teaching are an impactful way of working together on developing the teaching and learning process. Typically these consist of a trained peer observer participating in a class session followed by a confidential discussion in which the instructor discusses their goals for developing this course. This allows a highly tailored approach to provision of resources, support, and guidance. These can be conducted at any point during the semester can also include review and discussion of student evaluations of teaching. Faculty who are new to Dalton State receive observations during Faculty Academy but these opportunities are open to anyone interested. Request an observation here. 

Mid-Semester Evaluations

Mid-semester evaluations are an opportunity to refine and develop a course during the semester rather than waiting for the following semester to make modifications that support student success. This can be particularly important in courses that instructors teach infrequently. Making modifications to a course keeps us fresh and engaged as instructors. Mid-semester evaluations can also serve as a bridge between instructor and student in communicating and facilitating course modifications that can support success. A trained evaluator works with the students independently during a sub-section of class session. Statistically this also frequently improves end-of-course student evaluations of the instructor as a result of their responsiveness to student needs. Mid-semester evaluations are generally conducted between week 4 and 8 of the semester to provide time to make the suggested changes. Request a mid-semester evaluation here.   

Alternatively, if you would like to engage in our work in additional ways, please contact us at

2023-2024 Calendar and Dates coming soon. 

Pints & Pedagogy - 4:30-5:30pm at DBC on August 31, Sept 21, Oct 19, Nov 9, 2023. 

Thank a Teacher

Have you had a teacher that went above and beyond? Someone who taught exceptionally, supported your learning effectively, understood when you needed help, inspired you to engage in a topic further, helped you identify your career goals, or truly cared about your learning? Take a moment to thank them by submitting a request for a Thank a Teacher letter to be sent to them from CETL. These can be sent anonymously if requested. Instructors receive a certificate with your comments on if you chose to detail your experiences along with an email thanking them for contributing to excellence in teaching and learning which is copied to their supervising administrators. Make a Thank a Teacher request here.  


Library Resources

Teaching and Learning Conferences

Teaching and Learning Journals


The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning is located in Roberts Library 240. Our space comprises the following:

  • a collaborative office space
  • a faculty learning community room or small group meeting room for up to 10 people
  • a library of teaching and learning resources with space for consultations.
  • a lounge with a fridge, microwave, coffee and tea making facilities that seats up to 12 people.
  • an instructional tech suite with recording equipment (coming Fall 2023).

CETL is open 10am-2pm Monday-Thursday. Workshops and programming happen outside of those times. Come and use our space to collaborate with colleagues, grab a break and eat with a colleague, hold a meeting, use our library of resources, or meet with one of our staff for one-to-one assistance.  

Contact us:

CETL Director



Marina G. Smitherman

Marina Smitherman is the Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Dalton State College. With two decades of college teaching experience, Dr. Smitherman has specialized in Educational and Organizational Development. She is an author of “Taking Flight: Making your Teaching and Learning Center Soar” published with Stylus and won the USG Teaching Excellence Award in 2020. Dr. Smitherman represents Dalton State on the Regents Advisory Committee for Teaching and Learning, the Faculty & Staff Success Consortium, and the LEAP State Georgia Committee, along with college-wide committees of relevance.