Five Activities

1. Research-based Teaching Initiatives: Scholarship of Learning and Teaching.
The Research Academy supports faculty members as they treat the learning of their students as an object of scholarly inquiry and subsequently contribute to the scholarship of learning and teaching. The Academy will help faculty members explore existing research and theoretical literature on human learning, develop hypotheses about what might best address particular learning issues, create experiments to test new approaches, and measure the learning outcomes. The resulting experiments can become important catalysts for change within a discipline or across disciplines. A research-based approach to teaching can also mean the increased use of research findings by individual teachers as they make pedagogical choices.
Departments, schools, or individuals may come to the Academy with a learning issue. Examples:

  • How do I best help all students achieve a level of learning that they have not traditionally achieved?
  • How do I best help improve the learning of a particular segment of students--defined by whatever demography--who are not learning as well as their previous academic records and scores suggest that they should?

The Academy envisions that many of the resulting projects be successful in securing external funding and can, in turn, make significant contributions to the literature on university learning while enhancing the learning environment of Montclair State University students.

Example: Advanced Conceptual Workshops Pilot Program in Computer Science

2. Promoting A Conversation on Teaching and Learning Issues.
While the Academy nourishes a broad dialogue about a host of teaching and learning questions, it seeks primarily to treat teaching as serious intellectual work, as serious and important as the research faculty members produce in their disciplines. Four central inquiries lie at the heart of this discussion: 1) What do we expect our students to be able to do intellectually, physically, socially, or emotionally as a result of our instruction, 2) how can we best encourage and assist the development of those abilities, 3) how can we and our students best understand the nature and progress of their learning, and 4) how can we know whether we have helped or hurt their learning? That discussion recognizes that while the various disciplines are best prepared to address the first issue, the answers to the last three come from a variety of disciplines, including the learning sciences. Accordingly, the Academy attempts to encourage faculty members both to engage in a careful and systematic examination of their own teaching and to explore the literature on human learning. Such considerations lead ultimately to an examination of how best to make a sustained and substantial difference in the way students think and act. To advance this conversation, the Academy offers various activities and resources, including workshops and other forums; publications; a library of books, articles, and videotapes; a Web site; and bibliographies, among others.

Examples: Provost's Series, Web pages, Of Course!, Workshops, etc.

3. Feedback Services.
The Academy offers a number of services designed to help individuals collect detailed and systematic information about their teaching. Those services include videotaping, observation, collecting detailed feedback from students, and the support of some self-analysis tools.

Examples: Small Group Analysis, Videotaping and Consultation

4. Support for the Teaching Infrastructure.
The Research Academy supports schools, departments, and the university in designing and maintaining the teaching infrastructures. The Academy is never involved in the evaluation of anyone's teaching, but it does, for example, provide consultation on the design of ways to evaluate teaching. It also provides assistance with the design of learning spaces and the selection, design, and use of learning technologies. The Academy is developing a research and evaluation unit that will offer assessment services for educational projects within the university. The Academy will provide consultation and support for departmental or school initiatives seeking outside funding for projects designed to improve teaching and learning.

Examples: Evaluation of Teaching, Student Survey forms, Design of Learning Spaces.

5. Service-Learning
The Academy supports faculty and students involved in service-learning initiatives across campus. Service-learning is course-based, credit bearing educational experience in which students participate in an organized community-based service activity. This activity meets identified community needs, and provides a student with sufficient time to reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain a greater understanding of course content and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility (MSU Senate approved definition, 1998). The service-learning program’s ongoing mission is to foster the development of informed and involved citizens through the integration of service to the community with academic coursework. Through service-learning, MSU is pushing itself beyond giving students workplace experience to educating them for citizenship.