January 24th, 2012

College Shares Two Professional Development Strategies


1. Teaching Circles
One of the main mechanisms for faculty development at Century College is the idea of teaching circles, in which five to eight faculty members work with a trained faculty facilitator to design and implement a project related to a topic chosen by the group at its initial meeting.

There are currently about 40 facilitators at Century. Each receives a small stipend for leading faculty members in six two- to two-and-a-half-hour sessions. Participants are eligible for a small stipend as well once they have written and disseminated a report on their project.

Full-time and part-time faculty members are eligible to participate in this program, and in the past 10 years, approximately 200 tenured faculty members have taken part in it. Of those, three-quarters have participated four times or more, estimates Larry Litecky, president of Century College.

“That’s the way we’ve done much of our faculty development, and it has led to a fair amount of experimenting with new approaches,” he says.

2. Organizational Development at Century College
In addition to individual faculty, Century is taking a broader approach to improving student learning. The college is in the midst of developing a collective approach to professional development that will explore department and program strategies such as learning communities, intrusive advising, supplemental instruction, and student success courses—strategies selected from Achieving the Dream, a nationwide initiative aimed at improving the success of students of color, low-income students, and underprepared students.

“In some ways it’s more organizational development than traditional individually based faculty development,” Litecky says. To that end, the college has rewritten department chair and program director position descriptions to focus more on student success and less on some of the routine tasks typically such as scheduling and budgeting.

Reprinted from Kelly R. (2010). Century College Professional Development Strategies. Academic Leader, 26 (10), 8.