How can faculty development support your instruction?

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Subject matter expertise is essential to quality instruction, but it’s not nearly enough. 

“We college teachers have never been taught how to teach, and we generally work in isolation on improving our practice,” assert Drs. Kenneth Sharpe and Elizabeth Bolton, two Swarthmore College (PA) professors who published an essay on Inside Higher Ed this week.

An important first step, the authors write, is for colleges and universities to help build a collaborative culture on campuses. Doing so will enable faculty in all disciplines, including both novices and experts, to reflect on their ongoing teaching practices.

Despite having successful existing programs on their campus, Sharpe and Bolton wanted to go further with faculty development. They spearheaded the Faculty Teaching Seminar, to “teach faculty to be peer coaches for each other, to combine one-on-one coaching with group reflection, to privilege ongoing observation and coaching over onetime or short-term encounters, and to create a continuous process that could renew and improve the wider culture of pedagogy at the college.”

Elsewhere, the Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching at the University of Missouri—Kansas City, an ACUE partner, recently hosted a symposium to explore ways for faculty to collaborate on how to use national student engagement data to better instruct its diverse student population. Read more about that effort at FaCET’s Web site.

Higher education is beginning to collectively recognize the important role of research-backed faculty development that’s focused on effective college instruction. Last fall, more than 400 faculty members from 12 higher education institutions piloted ACUE’s Course in Effective Teaching Practices, to great effect. (Read more about the Fall 2015 Pilot here).

Tell us about the faculty development program where you teach! Share what is special about it, or tell us about interesting ideas you’ve heard or read about elsewhere.

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