4C Quality Faculty Model

Teaching & Learning

The 4C Quality Faculty Model attempts to describe the broader “universe” of what a faculty member does as a teacher in a classroom. Much of the literature on online and adult learning up until the last couple of years has emphasized the student side of the teaching equation. This emphasis has argued that we only have successful teaching if our students are learning. Accordingly, a good deal has been written about how students learn and what teachers do to make that learning happen. This has resulted in a shift in modern educational philosophy to talking about teaching primarily in terms of student learning outcomes. This is undoubtedly an important perspective and this emphasis in the last decade has helped educational theorists better appreciate the student side of the equation.

But it is not the whole story. In fact, the act and discipline of being a good teacher is different than the experience or activities a student engages in for learning to occur. Like any good spiral of learning, we need to circle back around the art and role of teaching as a distinct set of practices. Appropriately informed by an emphasis on student learning outcomes, to be sure, but distinct from what learners themselves do.

View/Download 4CQ Model PDF   View/Download 4CQ Characteristics Guide  

One significant factor to consider is the role that student initiative, commitment, and self-discipline play in learning. Learning is ultimately a decision on the part of the student. It is not something a teacher can cause or force. Because of this, a faculty member can do all the right things and a student still choose not to engage the learning environment in such a way that successful learning occurs.

Great teachers can offer motivation and encourage the desire to learn; they can provide tools or pathways for learning; and they can challenge students with reasons why learning ought to happen. These are stimuli that can help bring about learning. Ultimately, however, learning only occurs when the student chooses to respond to any of these stimuli. In short, learning as a change in student behavior or attitude is not something the teacher makes happen.

Thus it is misleading to talk about teaching solely in terms of student learning outcomes. Instructors cannot control in the end what an individual student decides to do with their learning. A teacher can only control their own activities, attitudes, and, to a limited degree, influence the immediate environment of the classroom.

The Model

A good model for faculty performance emphasizes those activities and attitudes that a faculty member has immediate and direct control over. In the 4CQ Model, the objective of teaching is for the instructor to create the most optimal environment possible to encourage students to engage their own learning.

The 4CQ Model describes four core qualities that contribute to a learning environment:

  • CARING factors – the faculty member’s awareness of and actions related to student needs, learning goals, and outcomes.
  • COMPETENCE factors – the faculty member’s knowledge/expertise in the subject matter, teaching methodology, and the learning tools and setting.
  • CONNECTION factors – faculty member’s skill and activity aimed at developing and sustaining relationships with the students; being accessible, conveying information, being involved, reproducing themselves.
  • COMMITMENT factors – the faculty member’s attitude toward institutional / program concerns, their role in the learning process; the degree of their willingness to engage the process and make it their own.

The Model

These four faculty qualities are related to subject matter, students, the institution, and the classroom environment itself. Each of the 4 Qualities is further described using 3 characteristics, producing a list of 12 concrete but universally applicable behaviors or attitudes. Although we developed this model primarily with adjunct faculty in mind, the general qualities and categories here can apply to traditional college faculty as well.

The concepts and visuals here represent a “mental model,” a tool described by Peter Seng as a conceptual framework of generalizations and assumptions about a big idea that allows you to both understand the whole of that big idea and how to take specific, meaningful action within it. In this case, our “big idea” for our mental model is teaching adults in a higher education setting. The 4CQ model is our framework for understanding and taking action.

Personal Teaching Profile

We have developed the Personal Teaching Profile as a bridge between the 4CQ Model and the particular setting and individual faculty member. The Teaching Profile will be the specific instrument used in mentoring, ongoing training, and evaluation, including self-assessment. Visit the PTP page here.