Just as faculty need to plan their research development, faculty need also to plan their teaching development. The first step is to spend some time reflecting on what would be most impactful, informed by the data you can gather. It’s easy to just choose the convenient path, spending hours reviewing new content, perhaps mastering a new educational technology. But is that the most useful? Pause first and, as you review the information you’ve collected, consider:
- What stands out to you?
- What patterns do you notice?
- What was most surprising?
- What would you like to improve or develop?
- What is the one opportunity you want to focus on for improvement?
- What do you need to do to make this improvement?
Other ways to assess your teaching:
- Assess implicit bias. Even if you imagine yourself largely free of bias and committed in your personal and professional opposition to discrimination, we encourage you to check out Project Implicit and take a test (or two). The test results typically surprise educated professionals, even those of us who are aware that we have biases and believe we can successfully circumvent them. The results will give you information to reflect on.
- Take a teaching self-assessment. Here is one focused on inclusive teaching practices.
- Make a teaching inventory: Several have been developed that focus on teaching practices. Wieman & Gilbert (2014) provide one model aimed at science and math faculty but adaptable to other disciplines. Here are two key excerpts: an overview of the inventory and a sample inventory (both open as PDFs).
- Pull artifacts for your teaching portfolio. Often curated as part of job search materials or a reappointment process, teaching portfolios also have relevance as evidence of your teaching. Collect artifacts of your teaching such as syllabi, assignments, student work, and your reflection on your teaching practice. For ideas, see: Documenting evidence of effective teaching (opens as PDF).
Strategies for Teaching Development
Reflective teaching involves researching pedagogy, particularly in areas you wish to improve on.
- Stay current in disciplinary developments and disciplinary-specific best teaching practices. Explore best practices for teaching through research or through reading newsletters like “On Teaching” in The Chronicle of Higher Education, or better yet, by following your own discipline’s pedagogy journals, blogs, and publications.
- Engage in professional development through workshops or resources like those offered by the Office for Faculty Excellence; if you have more time, consider a teaching and learning conference in your discipline or a more general one.
Select a New Pedagogy to Learn
Talk to your colleagues about what they have learned or, better yet, pair up with a colleague to work together to learn something new. Some ideas include:
- Flipped classroom/Flipped Learning – The flipped learning approach “flips” or inverts the traditional class structure. Rather than doing reading homework, listening to lectures in class, and then doing more homework, students learn course materials and concepts before class, practice applying those during class, and then have a follow-up exercise to reinforce learning. Flipped learning uses the unique tools of class-time, social interaction, and professor presence to clarify, extend, solidify, and complicate knowledge gained alone at home.
- Team-based learning (TBL) – Team-based learning is a process for structuring large classes for engagement, active learning, and high degrees of student participation and satisfaction. It uses pre-structured small groups and highly organized content-activities and assessments to keep students active and engaged for learning.
- Collaborative Learning – Collaborative learning, whether peer-to-peer or in larger groups, allows students to engage actively together in the course’s work while also developing teamwork skills that have real-world applications.
- POGIL (Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) – POGIL originated in chemistry and can be adapted to multiple disciplines. In a typical POGIL classroom or laboratory, students work in small teams with the instructor acting as a facilitator. The student teams use specially designed activities that generally follow a learning cycle paradigm.
- Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT)- JiTT relates course content to students’ lives, builds curiosity, and deepens conceptual knowledge through both in-and-out-of-class learning process. It is dialogic and intended to replace more traditional passive lectures and instead identify areas students need more instruction (bottlenecks) that better inform their understanding and learning. JiTT is a teaching and assignment process that has students complete preparatory assignments prior to class in which they read, review, or do something and then answer related questions. These “warm-ups” act as a communication tool between students and their instructors, creating a feedback loop that allows instructors to modify or adapt their in-class activities and instruction to address learning gaps visible through the out-of-class assignments. In JiTT, student-generated responses make the learning process visible and inform in-class activities and discussions.
- Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) – The Transparency in Learning and Teaching project aims to advance equitable teaching and learning practices that reduce systemic inequities in higher education through two promoting students’ conscious understanding of how they learn.
- Wicked Assignments – This method responds to problems with traditional research assignments such as students’ relying on other sources (the data dump) instead of taking risks by speculating or coming up with their own ideas (risk-aversion, avoiding uncertainty or complexity). A wicked assignment requires students to assume authority by crafting questions that ask “so what?” and calls for judgments, decisions, or meaning-making of outside sources. It builds in instructional activities that have students assume authority (as teachers themselves, or by applying these in an uncertain context where they have to make decisions).
- A new educational technology. It’s very helpful to look first at those technologies that are supported by our Instructional Technology department, not only because you’ll receive help and support, but also because some students will have encountered these technologies in other classes.
For more information or help, please email the Office for Faculty Excellence or make an appointment with a consultant.
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