Peer Review. Two colleagues chatting. May 24

Peer Review Strategies that Keep the Focus on Better Teaching

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The peer review processes for promotion and tenure and for continuing appointment provide committees with what’s needed to make overall judgments about the quality of instruction. For teachers, however, peer reviews usually don’t contain the diagnostic, descriptive feedback they need to continue their growth and development in the classroom. The assessments are broad and in the interest of preserving collegial relationships, any negative comments lurk between the lines or in vague statements that can be interpreted variously.


Teaching Professor newsletter turns 30 March 6

The Teaching Professor Newsletter Celebrates 30 Years

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Where were you 30 years ago? Maryellen Weimer, PhD, was writing the very first issue of The Teaching Professor newsletter, and she hasn’t stopped since.

In March 1987, Magna Publications published volume 1, number 1 of The Teaching Professor. The opening article read, in part:
“With all the enthusiasm of a new beginning, Magna begins publication of a newsletter for college professors about college teaching. … Can instruction be improved by reading material about teaching and learning? Yes. Reading about teaching forces reflection. It creates instructional awareness by causing faculty to wonder: Do I do that? Should I do that? Infusing teaching with a steady supply of new ideas keeps it fresh and invigorated.”

That philosophy of reflection and instructional awareness has remained a constant theme throughout the decades. As has the importance of keeping teaching fresh, regardless of teaching experience or discipline.


faculty development meeting February 13

Let’s Practice What We Teach: Flipping Faculty Development

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Faculty everywhere are flipping their classes, but can we flip faculty development? That’s the question I asked myself when I flipped the pre-conference workshop at the 2016 Teaching Professor Technology Conference. What I discovered is that we can “practice what we teach” and design faculty-centered learning experiences much the same way we design student-centered learning experiences.

In this article, I provide a few recommendations for flipping a faculty development workshop. For further inspiration, the article concludes with a showcase of the work created by the participants in my workshop last fall.




word balloons June 24, 2016

Lecture vs. Active Learning: Reframing the Conversation

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Exchanges about the relative merits of lecture and active learning continue, and these exchanges are becoming more acrimonious and polarized. Either you are for lecturing (and against active learning) or you’re for active learning (and against lecturing). Active learning advocates have the evidence; those who lecture stand on tradition. Where is this debate headed? How accurately does it reflect what’s actually happening in classrooms? Is there a viable place in the middle?



three professors June 3, 2016

Teaching Squares Bring Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives

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I regularly hear colleagues complaining that they never have time to discuss teaching, and I know this is true in my liberal arts and sciences campus at this large research university. We devote so much of our time to teaching students, preparing classes, grading student work, and doing research that there’s little time left to compare notes with our colleagues, even those next door. On those rare occasions when we do, it’s often a pleasant surprise. Interesting teaching strategies are being implemented all around us. When this happens to me I often think, “I wish I could come see how you do that!”


teaching professor conference attendees May 23, 2016

How to Get the Most out of a Professional Conference

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An initial look at a conference program can lead attendees to become (in the words of a former colleague) “paralyzed by the possibilities.” There are just so many sessions we’d like to attend that it’s hard to choose. At a recent conference, a new faculty member asked me for advice about negotiating the labyrinth. Here is a collection of strategies that I have developed over the years to help me make the most of the conference experience—before, during, and after the event.


Newton's Cradle with red ball April 8, 2016

Start Small, Finish Big

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You’ve just returned from a Teaching Professor Conference or read of an innovative teaching strategy in a book you devoured. You desperately want to incorporate the innovations you’ve learned into your own courses, but at that exact moment, you feel your energy drain when you imagine hearing unsupportive administrators utter their stern objections “to keep things the way they are.” You pause to look around, seeing older colleagues who have more teaching years behind than ahead of them—“I tried that once . . . “—knowing that they never received the administrative nod for their innovations.