Center for Educational Excellence

The Center for Educational Excellence (CEE) supports Palo Alto University’s vision of providing excellent pedagogical support for its faculty and students. The CEE strives to improve student learning outcomes and academic success of the overall university. President O’Connor, who has published on evidence-based teaching and taught “Teaching of Psychology” for many years to graduate students, has made it a top priority to provide cutting-edge professional development in pedagogy for our faculty and graduate students.

Mission Statement

To provide resources and training in evidence-based teaching strategies for instructors at all stages of their career for excellence in education through an inclusive, student-centered, and active learning environment.

Community-Wide Initiatives

  • Virtual Teaching Library serves as an internal resource filled with internally and externally generated materials and training modules.
  • Pedagogy in a Minute is a biweekly newsletter describing small teaching tips/strategies for the implementation of effective pedagogy.
  • Teaching Conference Sponsorship Award is an annually awarded sponsorship to attend a teaching conference and available to adjunct faculty and student members of the Society for Pedagogic Excellence (SPE).
  • Consultations are available for all faculty and students for support in their teaching practice!
  • CEE distributes surveys and needs assessments to identify areas of growth and expansion.
  • Annual Evidence-Based Teaching Conference is an annual interactive conference sponsored by the Center for Educational Excellence. The goal of this conference is to support teaching competencies across all levels of instruction.

Faculty Programming

  • Faculty Learning Community is a quarterly meeting in which faculty discuss PAU specific needs and concerns. It is a space for open communication and collaboration to enhance a sense of community across PAU's programs.
  • Pedagogy Workshops introduce pedagogy concepts and have participants engage in group discussions for further investigation (e.g., “Designing Social Justice Education Curriculum: Activities & Pedagogical Considerations”).
  • Short Training Videos are rich pedagogical videos that can be incorporated into your classroom (e.g., “Increasing Teacher Presence via Zoom” and “Narrative Pedagogy”).

Student Instructional Development

  • Palo Alto University Society for Pedagogic Excellence (SPE) provides year-round professional development and instructional support to over 80 students across all programs. SPE invites all current students to join the email list by contacting!
  • Summer Teaching Workshops help beginner instructors learn about evidence-based teaching and student-centered learning in preparation for an instructor position. Students practice creating a syllabus and Canvas course, lecturing and teaching, creating recordings of a lecture, and measuring student outcomes through quizzes and exams.
  • Early Career Mentorship is available for students seeking one-on-one support for their path towards an academic and educational career.


CEE Team

Kristel Nazzal, Director of Educational Excellence

Dr. Kristel Nazzal directs the CEE and has passionately taught business and psychology students for over a decade. Throughout her role and career, Dr. Nazzal gave several presentations around inclusive pedagogy and best practices in pedagogy. Her vision for the CEE aligns with emerging research in the Scholarship for Teaching and Learning (SoTL).

Yasmine Bensidi-Slimane, Pedagogical Development Coordinator

Yasmine is the Pedagogical Development Coordinator (PDC) and an expert in pedagogical practices. Prior to her work as PDC, Yasmine was a secondary teacher who trained new educators and led professional development workshops.
CEE Committee Members





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