faculty development tips
1. Study the knowledge base of teaching and learning.
You have chosen to teach in higher education because you are a subject-matter specialist with a tremendous knowledge of your discipline. As you enter or continue your career, there is another field of knowledge you need to know: teaching and learning. What we know about teaching and learning continues to grow dramatically. It includes developing effective instructional strategies, reaching today’s students, and teaching with technology. Where is this knowledge base? Books, articles in pedagogical periodicals, newsletters, conferences, and online resources provide ample help. Take advantage of your institution’s center for teaching and learning or other professional development resources.
Someone sought me out recently to say that she’d tried something I had recommended and it didn’t work. “You need to stop recommending that to people,” she told me. “How many times did you try it?” I asked. “Once and the students hated it,” she responded. This rather direct feedback caused me to revisit (and revise) a set of assumptions that can create more accurate expectations when implementing new instructional approaches.
As a college faculty member, you speak to audiences both large and small on a daily basis. You know how to deliver information, create learning opportunities, and build engagement. And yet, presenting at a professional conference brings a whole new set of challenges. How do you establish credibility and authority among your peers? How do you make your session relevant for those who, unlike your students, have at least some familiarity with the topic?
Faculty development is a crucial and vital component to any college or university. For institutions with geographically dispersed faculty who are teaching online, in some cases for the very first time, faculty development takes on a new level of importance. Here the challenges are not only ensuring instructors understand the technical aspects of teaching online and have the instructional skills to meet online learners’ needs, but also instilling a sense of community.
These principles don’t propose breathtakingly new insights, but they offer a context for improvement that should make efforts to teach better more successful…All teachers can improve; most should. Don’t base efforts on premises of remediation and deficiency. Positive premises work just as well. You can improve your teaching just as effectively doing more of what works well as you can…
The Department of Behavioral Sciences at St. Louis Community College-Meramec is a diverse department with 16 full-time and 53 adjunct faculty. In an effort to connect those adjuncts to the department, Darlaine Gardetto and some of her colleagues created an adjunct professional development program focused on improving teaching based on Bloom’s Taxonomy.
For the past three years I have directed a small program that has produced big results at Tusculum College. For as little as $3,000 per year, our college has increased its sense of campus community, helped with current faculty development, more quickly integrated new faculty, and modeled scholarly discussions for students. Officially the program goes by the name “The Teaching and Learning Initiative,” but it has acquired the nickname “teaching circles.”
I’ve been reading pedagogical literature for a long time and so I don’t often come upon a topic I haven’t seen before. But this week I came across one — it was an article on conversation in an international faculty development journal.
Editor’s Note: In yesterday’s article, the authors introduced steps for overcoming some of the administrative challenges when working with part-time faculty. Here, in part two of the article, they outline strategies for overcoming some of the pedagogical challenges.
I have observed, sometimes in myself and sometimes in colleagues, a certain tendency to be ironically unaware of (or inattentive to) a crucial disconnect between what we say and what we do. We’re good at talking the talk, but we are not so good at walking the walk, particularly in terms of our audience awareness.