online professional development March 8

A Professional Development Makeover

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I have been an online educator for almost 10 years and feelings of isolation and complacency were familiar companions on my teaching journey. Many virtual work environments lacked channels for educators like myself to connect and maintain meaningful conversations and I longed to build a sense of community with my colleagues in the field. The constant dripping of policy changes from the top made for limited self-reflection and minimal opportunities for collaboration. Departmental attempts at transformative shifts in work culture were captured in ephemeral professional development methods that operated on low frequency when it came to encouraging personal growth and knowledge creation.


pile of books and notebook April 18, 2017

Principles for the Professional Growth of Teaching: A Collection of Resources

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New Approaches, Instruments and Emphases

Eddy, S. L., Converse, M., and Wenderoth, M. P., (2015).  PORTAAL:  A classroom observation tool assessing evidence-base teaching practice for active learning in large science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes.  Cell Biology Education, 14 (Summer), 1-16.
Identifies best practices in active learning and designs an observational tool that can be used to document the extent to which instructors incorporate these practices in their classrooms.

Hoon, A., Oliver, E., Szpakowska, K., and Newton, P., (2015).  Use of the Stop, Start, Continue method is associated with the production of constructive qualitative feedback by students in higher education.  Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 40 (5), 755-767.
A simple feedback mechanism improved the quality of student provided feedback.

Smith, M. K., Jones, F. H. M., Gilbert. S. L., and Weiman, C. E. (2013).  The classroom observation protocol for undergraduate STEM (COPUS):  A new instrument to characterize university STEM classroom practices.  Cell Biology Education, 12, (Winter), 618-625.
Focuses on what students are doing and what the instructor is doing at 2 minute intervals during a class.  Does not offer judgments but identifies behaviors.  At 1.5 hours of training, observations are reliable. Can be used in individual faculty, departments and/or institutions.

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August 5, 2011

Take Control: Planning Your Professional Development

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As higher education budgets for professional development have shrunk in the last few years, it has become more important than ever to plan your professional development goals in a meaningful way. What is it you want to accomplish in the next year? Do you want to become a better instructor, research a specific area, or just attain the funds to attend that great meeting? All of these are goals that you can use to design your comprehensive professional development plan.


June 22, 2010

The World of Pedagogical Knowledge

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A number of our professional associations (most often in the large disciplines) have separate organizations or subgroups within the association that are focused on teaching and learning. Does your field have such an organization? If so, I would encourage you to consider attending events hosted by the group. There is such energy generated when folks who care about teaching convene to explore issues and share ideas.


June 15, 2010

A Tired Teacher

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Last week I met a tired teacher—23 years of teaching at a two-year institution. That’s a lot of teaching; many times it was year round. He didn’t say he was tired. He said he was thinking about a career change. “Teaching’s become work, a job, no different than slicing meat at the deli counter.”



May 14, 2010

Do Take Care

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The Teaching Professor Conference is next week, and it’s a sold-out event. More than 800 of us will gather in Cambridge outside Boston for this event. If this year’s conference is like previous ones, it will be a high-energy event


January 26, 2010

Creating a Center for Professional Development and Leadership

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Colleges and universities have realized increasingly that effective teaching by instructors and successful learning by students does not occur through serendipity. Even though more and more graduate programs are providing doctoral students with experience and training in how to teach at the college level, many faculty members still reach their positions largely through an education based on how to perform research, not on how to include students in that research or train others in their disciplines.