CELT program to benefit new faculty

Helping new faculty connect with students and engage their students in the material can be a daunting task. The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) hopes its newest program will help in that process, allowing both to be successful.

Monica Lamm and Ann Gansemer-Topf were named CELT's first faculty fellows in December. They will use their part-time, two-year appointments to provide guidance to multiple CELT programs that promote faculty development and research.

Teaching and Learning Academy

Lamm, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, is helping build and direct CELT's new Teaching and Learning Academy.

The yearlong program will provide a foundation in teaching practices for new faculty -- both tenure-track and term -- who have one to five years of experience. The academy is divided into nine three-hour sessions, one each month from August through April.

"We want the participants to have a better understanding of how to use evidence-based teaching practices to improve student learning in their courses," Lamm said. "We want to help faculty really engage with the concept of developing an inclusive classroom environment and a learning-centered syllabus."

The commitment is significant, but Lamm said CELT wants to be able to investigate important topics and stretch beyond what is typically available in a one- or two-hour workshop.

Each meeting will have a focused topic or theme with a campus expert to lead discussion. The sessions will be interactive and get participants thinking about how it could impact their teaching and classrooms.

Applications will be available March 25-April 15, with the goal of 15 to 20 participants. Those accepted into the program will be notified by April 30.

"We always want to see our faculty succeed, so to provide them with foundations of teaching approaches is a great way to help those new faculty who serve in very diverse roles," Lamm said.

Teaching partners

Lamm also will direct the Teaching Partners Program, which pairs junior faculty members in their second or third year with senior members from different disciplines.

"It can help a new faculty member trying to do something cutting edge who may not be getting positive feedback from students," Lamm said. "It helps to have a senior partner validate what they are doing."

Applications for the yearlong program also are available March 25, with participants notified of their partner in May.

Scholarship of teaching and learning

The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) Scholars Program helps faculty frame and investigate questions related to student learning with a goal of improving teaching and learning. SoTL provides faculty and teaching staff the opportunity to conduct guided research on a topic important to their teaching or classroom. Often teaching and research are viewed as two distinct activities, but the Scholars Program offers an opportunity to bridge the two.

Gansemer-Topf's appointment is meant to enhance resources available to faculty and staff.

"I will support faculty in developing their research project, from conceptualization through data collection and dissemination of results. I want to help faculty improve teaching and student learning while contributing to their scholarship," she said.

Gansemer-Topf will also assist faculty in exploring and implementing new methodological approaches to research.

"The experimental method, traditionally used in sciences, has limitations when applied in educational contexts and focused on student learning," she said.

Gansemer-Topf, associate professor in the School of Education, also will collect assessment resources to aid program participants and post them on the CELT website.

Signing up

Applications to the Scholars Program are being accepted through March 29. Those chosen will meet by the end of April or early May, allowing for work to begin over the summer.

"We would like projects to be completed in a year, but some may run longer," Gansemer-Topf said. "This SoTL program may provide a springboard to other research projects."