Teaching and Learning Centers Program Spotlight
USG’s Office of Faculty Development is pleased to recognize unique and successful programs of our Teaching and Learning Centers around the system through our Program Spotlight.
Georgia Tech’s Provost Teaching & Learning Fellows Program
Dr. Joyce Weinsheimer, director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), often wondered how to build stronger partnerships between the colleges and the Center. “It’s easy for us to come up with ideas and push them out, but how might we connect with the colleges more readily on ideas they have that are important to them?”
Georgia Tech’s Provost Teaching & Learning Fellows program was developed to “create a hub-and-spoke model that connects the expertise of evidence-based teaching and learning professionals in the CTL with the expertise of disciplinary faculty in each college/school.” By doing so, the CTL aims to create a partnership where teams of faculty within each college are working to strengthen teaching and learning through special initiatives designed by the faculty themselves.
The program is a joint effort of Provost Rafael L. Bras and the Center for Teaching and Learning. Over the course of the two-year program, the fellows meet monthly as a large group to discuss pedagogy and best practices. In addition, they keep each other informed about the progress of their college-level initiatives. Each college-based group also meets monthly with a representative from the CTL who works with them throughout their two-year term.
Depending on the size of the college, each has from two to five fellows. In some cases, the fellows from a college work as a team on a project. For example, fellows from the College of Sciences are working together to explore peer evaluation of teaching—what is currently being done, and how to develop a more robust process that could ultimately inform tenure and promotion documentation.
In the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, one fellow is piloting a development program for graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) in economics—and she will eventually explore how to expand the model to GTAs in other units. Another fellow in the same college is working on mentorship initiatives for post docs, new faculty, and junior and/or short-term faculty.
The fellowship comes with funding that can be used at the discretion of the faculty fellow and their Chair (for example, for summer salary or release time); a portion of the funds is to be used to attend at least one teaching and learning conference in the fellow’s discipline.
The fellowship will conclude with poster presentations at Georgia Tech’s Celebrating Teaching Day in the spring. Faculty will share their efforts with colleagues and administrators throughout the campus, inspiring others to adapt their ideas. The CTL website will also include information about the initiatives and their impact.
USG SoTL Fellows present at USG Teaching & Learning Conference
The first University System of Georgia (USG) Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Fellows cohort wrapped up their year with a number of presentations at the USG Teaching & Learning Conference in Athens, Georgia on April 5-7, 2017.
Six of the fellows participated in a panel titled, SoTL communities of practice for research on teaching and learning. Panelists discussed how participation in the community affected their design and implementation of their projects, and how the mix of diverse participants from the USG enriched their understanding of SoTL across the disciplines.
Four of the fellows presented snapshots of their SoTL projects in their session, Diverse approaches to SoTL as exemplified by the USG SoTL Fellows. In this presentation, each fellow gave an overview of their project design, data collection, and emerging conclusions.
We are so proud of the work that these scholars have done over the past year, and look forward to seeing more from them over the years as they continue their journey as SoTL scholars.
Photo: (left to right) Tamra Orgies-Young, Julia Whisenhunt, Scott Butler, Laura Ng, Trinanjan Datta, Judy Grissett
USG SoTL Fellows Orientation
The 2017-2018 cohort of USG SoTL Fellows met together for the first time during the USG Teaching & Learning Conference in Athens, Georgia on April 5-7, 2017. During the three-day orientation, they began to discuss and refine their project ideas and designs, examined AAC&U’s LEAP initiative with regards to their projects, and participated in a conversation with UGA’s Office of Research. They also attended presentations by Rebecca Rose (the USG SoTL Fellows embedded librarian) and by the first cohort of fellows. This was followed by time with the first cohort to ask questions and discuss their experience in the program.
This second cohort, which has a focus on the LEAP initiative, will continue to meet over the course of the year as they design, develop, and implement their SoTL projects.
Image 1: 2017-2018 USG SoTL Fellows. (left to right): Seretha Williams, Augusta University; Kim Johnson, Middle Georgia State University; Mike Metzler (USG SoTL Mentor), Georgia State University; John Weber, Georgia State University; Chere Peguesse, Valdosta State University; Aubrey Dyer, Clayton State University; Hasitha Mahabaduge, Georgia College & State University; Megan Adams, Kennesaw State University; Lesley Clack, Armstrong State University. Not pictured: Elizabeth Wurz, College of Coastal Georgia; Joseph Watson, Georgia Southwestern State University.
Image 2: First two cohorts of USG SoTL Fellows. Left to right, front row: Chere Peguesse, Valdosta State University; Jackie Kim, Armstrong State University; Julie Whisenhunt, University of West Georgia; Megan Adams, Kennesaw State University; Aubrey Dyer, Clayton State University. Left to right back row: Scott Butler, Georgia College and State University; Trinanjan Datta, Augusta University; Seretha Williams, Augusta University; Tamra Ortgies-Young, Georgia State University - Perimeter College; Mike Metzler (USG SoTL Mentor), Georgia State University; John Weber, Georgia State University; Hasitha Mahabaduge, Georgia College & State University; Kim Johnson, Middle Georgia State University; Lesley Clack, Armstrong State University; Tim Foutz, University of Georgia.
Georgia Consortium for Teaching and Learning
Last week, twenty-two representatives to the Georgia Consortium for Teaching and Learning (GA-CTL) met for their bi-annual meeting. Members of this group are faculty developers from the twenty-eight public institutions of higher education in the state of Georgia and serve as an advisory board for faculty development programs, policies, and proposals that have system-wide significance and advance the USG strategic plan.
The consortium, currently chaired by Marina Smitherman of Dalton State College, met at the system office in Atlanta on Thursday, and at Georgia State University’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning on Friday. Representatives from Complete College Georgia (Jonathan Hull & Heather Collins), Affordable Learning Georgia (Jeff Gallant), and UGA’s Office of Service Learning (Shannon Wilder) presented to the consortium; Dr. Marti Venn, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, shared the Chancellor’s priorities, as well as her own vision for faculty development within the USG. Consortium representatives gave campus and program updates, shared faculty development best practices, discussed their identities as faculty developers, and held elections for the executive committee.
Image: Dr. Shannon Wilder of UGA’s Office of Service-Learning talks about UGA’s service-learning initiatives.
Georgia Southern’s Writer’s Boot Camp
Since 2014, Georgia Southern’s Centers for Teaching and Technology (CT2) has offered a Writer’s Bootcamp for faculty interested in substantial, structured writing time. Four times a year, the week after finals, faculty are invited to come together for four days to focus on writing.
Dr. Peggy Lindsey first came to Georgia Southern in 2012 from the University of Dayton, where she had been part of an informal writers group. After she learned about a more structured model at a conference, she was determined to start something similar at Georgia Southern. She found willing collaborators in the CT2.
Writer’s Bootcamp started small with six participants and the event being held at the CT2. They have since outgrown that space and now take over three classrooms for each session.
The sessions are structured in 75-minute writing blocks, followed by 15-minute breaks, from 8:45 AM to 3:30 PM each day. At the beginning of the first day, participants from across campus and colleges share their goals for the week and a little bit about what they are writing. This has actually inspired conversations (during breaks) that have led to collaborations. At the most recent boot camp, for example, two faculty members finished co-authoring an article after having met in an earlier boot camp.
At the end of each day, participants share their progress and receive a “prize” for doing the tough work of a day of writing. Dr. Lindsey explained that it is a way to say, “You made it through the day! We’re glad you’re here. Keep coming.” Dr. Lindsey puts together many of the prizes herself. Monday, for example, they get office supplies. Tuesday the focus is on health and wellness; on this day, they get a coaster with the Boot Camp logo, and a water bottle. Wednesday they get a survival kit (with items such as Snickers “for when you need a little laugh,” a silly straw “for when you need to suck it up and get to work,” and a sanitizing wipe “for when a project becomes a big mess”). Thursday they get their boot camp diploma. The total cost for the “prizes” is about $20-30 per session. CT2 also provides tea and coffee; participants are encouraged to bring their own lunch and, if desired, snacks to share.
Participants must commit to the entire four-day session. As described on the Boot Camp website, “presence is essential to the boot camp esprit de corps—the willingness of all participants to keep slogging away all day every day, not only to meet their own goals, but to inspire those sitting around them to keep going as well” (https://sites.google.com/a/georgiasouthern.edu/ct2-writers-boot-camp/home/extendedbootcamps).
Dr. Jamie Scalera, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies, has spent the past several boot camps working on a book. “I find the sense of community and accountability to be very motivating, since writing can often be a solitary endeavor,” she explained. “I also find the week-long camps at the end of the semester particularly helpful, as it gives me a sense of accomplishment before taking a much-needed break.” In fact, Dr. Scalera has found this model so worthwhile she has encouraged her Honors students to use 75-minute writing blocks for their thesis projects. “I create a chart each semester where they can record their boot camp sessions for the week (4 per week), and I have encouraged them to meet together in the library like the faculty do for boot camp. I think this has helped encourage good writing habits among my students.”
CT2 also offers Weekend Writer’s Boot Camps four times a year. These sessions follow a similar structure of 75-minute writing sessions and 15-minute breaks. Unlike the extended boot camps, however, the weekend sessions are more flexible and welcome participants to attend one or both days, and as many sessions per day as fits their schedules.
To learn more about Writer’s Boot Camp, visit their webpage, academics.georgiasouthern.edu/ctl/bootcamp/
Open Classroom Initiative at Gordon State College
Gordon State College’s Open Classroom Initiative was designed to foster discussions about teaching and learning, and to promote community and engagement in and across departments through the exchange of ideas.
The mission of Gordon State’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) is to “empower conversation, sharing, and mutual support” among their faculty in order to promote “innovative teaching and engaged learning” (http://www.gordonstate.edu/cetl/home). The Open Classroom Initiative is one way they support this mission.
Each semester, instructors can volunteer to open their classrooms on the day of their choosing. Some may have a technique they want to showcase—flipped classroom, scaffolding, leading class discussions—others might just want general feedback on their teaching. Typically, three to four instructors observe any given “open” classroom.
Following the class, the instructor and observers are encouraged to meet for coffee or lunch to discuss their impressions. Each observer also sends an email thanking the faculty member for letting them observe, and includes at least one thing they thought the instructor did well, and at least one suggestion for improvement.
According to Dr. Erica Johnson, Director of the CETL at Gordon State, the initiative encourages faculty to “take a look at what we do on an average day—to see what we teach, how we teach, and to follow up with conversations about why we use the practices we do” (http://www.gordonstate.edu/cetl/home).
The program began in 2015 with three faculty members opening their classroom. This semester eight instructors have volunteered. Three have opened their classrooms more than once. Dr. Johnson said that their president, Dr. Max Burns, has even participated in the program.
Learning Communities Faculty Scholars Course
Learning communities (LCs) at Kennesaw State University (KSU) are comprised of groups of up to 25 students who co-enroll in two or more classes that are linked by a common theme. The themes can focus on majors such as business, nursing, education, or dance; or can be topic-based, such as themes that focus on social justice, gender studies, or “green” living (http://uc.kennesaw.edu/fyts/programs/learningcommunity.php). At KSU, there is a strong focus on fostering community, and an expectation of intentional collaboration between faculty who teach the linked courses.
Dr. Hillary Steiner is Associate Professor of Educational Psychology, and Associate Director for Faculty Development and SoTL for the Learning Communities Program. After a conversation at the National Summer Institute on Learning Communities about the need for faculty development in this area, she decided to design an online course for faculty who were interested in “going deeper into the literature on learning communities, and wanted to connect that knowledge to scholarship.”
In collaboration with the Distance Learning Center at KSU, and with support from University College (her college within KSU), Dr. Steiner designed and developed an “online, asynchronous, six-week course designed to encourage and support the development of scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching within the context of learning communities” (http://uc.kennesaw.edu/fyts/programs/learningcommunities/lcfs.php).
The course is divided into five content modules, bookended by an introduction module and a reflections module. Each module has a series of activities that includes readings, videos, discussions, and active learning assignments. All major assignments are designed to be applied directly to their learning communities course. Module topics include the science of teaching and learning, student development in the first year and beyond, learning communities, building integrative assignments, and the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).
With the goals of 1) investigating their students’ learning, and 2) contributing to the scholarly research in the area of Learning Communities, the final module has faculty designing their own SoTL project based on a question they have about their classroom.
The Learning Communities Faculty Scholars Course has been offered to KSU faculty for the past two years. Responding to a need at the national level, the course is now available to non-KSU faculty for a fee. For more information about the Learning Communities Faculty Scholars Course, visit the program website, or contact Dr. Hillary Steiner.
Photo: Students in Dr. Steiner’s Pursuit of Happiness LC, volunteering at the City of Kennesaw’s “Worldwide Day of Play” in September, 2016. Photo credit: Hillary Steiner. Used with permission.
USG Office of Faculty Development Mini-Grants
For the second year in a row, The University System of Georgia (USG) Office of Faculty Development has awarded $5,000 in mini-grants to build capacity and enhance programming in smaller Centers for Teaching and Learning or Faculty Development Offices in USG colleges and universities. Grants were awarded to fund travel for professional development, support faculty development events such as reading groups and retreats, and for the purchase of resources and supplies.
Congratulations to the following awardees:
- Robert Bleil, Associate Professor of English / Campus USG-CTL Representative, College of Coastal Georgia
- Terri Brown, Director of Distance Learning, Bainbridge State College
- Jordan Cofer, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs (Learning Resources), Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College
- Courtney DuBois, Instructional Designer, Center for Instructional Development, Clayton State University
- Timothy Henkel, Scholar in Residence, Associate Professor, Valdosta State University
- Erica Johnson, Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Gordon State
- Pamela Moolenaar-Wirsiy, Associate Director, Perimeter College-Georgia State University
- Nancy Remler, Director of Faculty Development and Online/Blended Learning, Armstrong State
- Sara Selby, Academic Affairs Projects Specialist and Professor of English, South Georgia State College
- Marina G. Smitherman, Director, Center for Academic Excellence, Dalton State College
Faculty Development and LEAP in Georgia
This summer, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, along with the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), announced that Georgia is the 13th LEAP state partner.
Georgia’s Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) Consortium is comprised of over twenty institutions in Georgia, including colleges, universities, and community colleges.
LEAP is a “national advocacy, campus action, and research initiative that champions the importance of a twenty-first-century liberal education—for individual student success and for a nation dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality” (https://www.aacu.org/sites/default/files/files/LEAP/IntroToLEAP2015.pdf).
Campuses promote LEAP through practices such as Essential Learning Outcomes, High-Impact Educational Practices, Authentic Assessments, and Students’ Signature Work (learn more about LEAP at https://www.aacu.org/leap). Each campus creates and implements an action plan according to its own unique contexts.
USG Institutions and LEAP
USG institutions are promoting LEAP in a number of ways. For example, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College’s Quality Enhancement Plan, STEPS (Student Engagement Programs), is being developed around LEAP’s High-impact Practices, and Middle Georgia State University has aligned their strategic plan with the LEAP initiative.
At Dalton State College, a team of faculty and staff—led by Dr. Marina Smitherman, associate professor of biology and director of the Center for Academic Excellence—were selected to attend AAC&U’s High Impact Practices (HIP) Institute at UCLA this summer (see article in The Chattanoogan). They returned with a four-year plan to focus on service-learning, internships, undergraduate research, and study abroad, with the goal of all graduates participating in at least two of these HIPs before they graduate.
Representatives from Columbus State University also attended the HIP Institute with a team led by Dr. Susan Hrach, director of CSU’s Faculty Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. The Center will be playing a key role in the LEAP Task Force (and eventually, a LEAP Council), charged in part with exploring ways to integrate LEAP rubrics into high impact practices, integrating their QEP’s focus on problem solving to create strategic alignment among high impact practices, and overseeing data collection processes to assess equity and effectiveness of high impact practices.
The University of West Georgia held a two-day, LEAP-focused Academic Affairs Faculty Symposium this summer. Thirty-six UWG faculty members, as well as Lee Knefelkamp from AAC&U and colleagues from Georgia College, came together to create a LEAP campus plan focusing on the areas of first-year experiences, general education, signature work, and high impact practices. The symposium concluded with each working group presenting their recommendations to the Provost. UWG will continue this work throughout the academic year with broader participation from around campus.
USG SoTL Fellows and LEAP
To further promote and explore the efficacy of these LEAP initiatives, all projects of the 2017-2018 cohort of USG SoTL Fellows will involve inquiry into some aspect of LEAP principles (learn about the USG SoTL Fellows). Fellows will do individual research, or may collaborate with other fellows to implement cross-institutional projects. Examples of projects might include exploring the efficacy of High-Impact Practices, describing how varied disciplines construct Authentic Assessments, or exploring how Students’ Signature Work leads to application and synthesis of learning in meaningful and significant products.
Faculty Learning Communities and LEAP
The Office of Faculty Development’s Faculty Learning Communities (FLC) program will bring together two small groups of faculty to focus on LEAP. One group will be made up of participants from five to six Georgia LEAP institutions. Each institution will send two representatives; one faculty member and one representative from the institution’s teaching and learning center. The experience is intended to enhance each participant’s understanding and implementation of LEAP principles at their institutions. The second group will include up to twelve faculty members from Georgia institutions that are not currently LEAP institutions. The goal is to explore the LEAP initiative to determine areas of interest related to high-impact practices at their institution. Learn more on our Faculty Learning Communities page.
Program Spotlight: Clayton State’s Lightboard
Clayton State’s Center for Instructional Development’s (CID) Lightboard Tool offers instructors “a creative and innovative way to deliver content to students.” Faculty members use the Lightboard to record mini-lectures for students on topics with which they frequently struggle. Originally conceived of as a tool for use in online classes, they have found that those who teach in face-to-face courses are also utilizing it for supplemental content.
The Lightboard is a piece of aquarium glass that is lined with LED lights. Instructors stand behind the glass, looking through the glass to the camera, and draw on the board with neon markers as they talk through a difficult concept. As students watch the videos, it gives the impression that their instructors are talking directly to them. Justin Mays, Director of the CID, explains that this helps students feel more connected to their instructors than they might with a traditional narrated PowerPoint lecture.
CID videographer Brian Roberts advises faculty to come to the studio with a solid plan for what they want to present in their mini-lectures, and recommends videos that are no longer than seven minutes. “Once you fill up the board, it starts to break the connection because they are now looking through text,” explained Brian. After the shoot, Brian edits and reverses the video, and then publishes it to their media server. Faculty typically have a link to their video the same day. Students can then access the link on any of their devices.
The Lightboard itself is Open Source Hardware. It was conceived of and designed by Michael Peshkin at Northwestern University, and all design specifications are offered for no charge at lightboard.info. The CID ordered the aquarium glass from a local supplier, and Clayton State’s mathematics department used their 3D printer to print the LED holders using open-source specifications from Duke University. Lightboard also has a user forum for “sharing best practices, interesting techniques, pedagogical uses, technical discussion, and perhaps just showing off an occasional video that came out well.”
If you would like to learn more about how Clayton State is using their Lightboard, contact CID Director Justin Mays at email@example.com, or videographer Brian Roberts at BrianRoberts@clayton.edu. For more videos, best practices, and detailed specifications of their Lightboard project, visit CID’s Lightboard page.
Image: Technology Support Specialist Jonathan Booth. Photo credit: Brian Roberts.