The Team System

How can students have a successful, satisfying experience in a large research university? At CGS, we believe the key idea is to optimize the contact between professors and students, especially for first- and second-year students. We implement this idea through an innovative system of instruction and advising—the team approach.

Three professors on a team teach the three cross-disciplinary core courses to a team of about 80 students. Regular consultation among faculty members and the team advisor enables them to coordinate coursework and other academic matters to meet the interests and needs of their students. The team structure thus reinforces the interdisciplinary character of the College’s curriculum. In fact, a team is often called a “college within a college,” and CGS itself is like a small liberal arts college within a large, urban research university.

Our professors are full-time BU faculty appointed to our College. They are not on loan from other colleges in the University. The faculty are fascinating, accomplished scholars and scientists who like to teach. Their teaching load for each semester is their team of about 80 students. While they are expected to be active in their professions, the primary reason they were hired and retained is their interest and skill in teaching young people. We have no intermediaries between the students and their professors—no teaching assistants, teaching fellows, lab assistants, and no graders. The professors grade exams, read every word of students’ essays, and evaluate term papers themselves.

Similarly, our advisors are full-time professionals with Master’s degrees or higher in Education, Counseling, Social Work and other relevant areas. Their chief responsibility is successfully guiding students in their academic progress, particularly in their selection of courses, majors, and career paths.

The professors and advisors on each team meet once a week to discuss the progress of their students. This team meeting enhances their understanding of their students and enables the professors to plan interdisciplinary projects that encourage students to see the connections among their courses.

So, professors and advisors come to know their students. They know more than student’s names, they know their work, their writing, and their interests. These relationships enhance student learning and growth and foster their success at Boston University.