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Project Recommendations and Final Reports
Proposal for the Shawnee State University
I. Mission of the Center
The Center will be staffed by a Director selected by the Provost in consultation with the Center Advisory Committee. The Director will report to the Provost, and will receive appropriate reassigned time from teaching in order to carry out the Center’s functions. Clerical help will be provided commensurate with the level of activity as the Center grows. The Director may be removed by the Provost after consultation with the Center Advisory Committee, and returned to full faculty duties.
A. Center Advisory Committee
The University-Wide Personnel Development Committee will function as the Center Advisory Committee, assisting the Director with planning and advice for center operations, as well as campus-wide needs assessment.
B. Facilities and Budget
The University will provide appropriate office/work space as well as an operating budget, through the Office of the Provost. Equipment acquisition for enhanced teaching and learning will be coordinated through the Center. The Center will be expected to seek external grant funding to supplement its budget.
The Provost may recommend dissolution of the Center effective the end of any regular academic term, with the approval of the President. The recommendation to dissolve the Center will be submitted to the Board of Trustees for appropriate action.
This proposal to establish the Shawnee State University Teaching and Learning Center will provide formal recognition and the basis for continued growth of what is currently a successful but informally structured faculty development program.
The development of an “ambitious teaching and learning center to promote professional development among faculty and staff” has been identified as one of four Action Projects Shawnee State will undertake as part of our participation in AQIP, the Academic Quality Improvement Program that serves as the basis for our continued institutional accreditation.
FACULTY DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES SINCE 2000
Since 2000, a number of initiatives have sought to address the professional development needs of faculty, staff, and administrators at Shawnee. Efforts extending beyond the needs of single units, offices, or departments have been undertaken by the University-Wide Personnel Development Committee, the Faculty Affairs and Development Committee (UFS), and various ad hoc committees.
Faculty members have helped to train other faculty in technology use, leading to the appointment of a Director of Instructional Technologies to provide ongoing training in the Blackboard online course platform. Grants have provided training in new technologies, including Palm Pilots and the I Pods as instructional tools. Librarians have teamed with faculty to provide updated training in information literacy.
Invited to join the Ohio Teaching Enhancement Program (OTEP) by the Provost of Miami University in 2001, Provost Field asked Dr. Barbara Kunkle (Chair of the Faculty Development Committee) to participate on our behalf. This initiative has become the centerpiece of a faculty development program with ties to state, national, and even international programs. Beginning with a Faculty Learning Community for Early Service Faculty in 2001, Shawnee has expanded the program each year. During 2005-06, four faculty learning communities with a combined membership of some 35 faculty (more than 25 percent of the entire full-time faculty population) are engaged in a full year of bi-monthly seminar meetings to enhance their knowledge and skills for addressing the learning needs of our student population. In addition to an early service group, named “Shawneesians,” the current FLCs include Cybertrek, which focuses on new technologies in higher education; GenEd FLC, which explores the changing meanings and cultural landscapes of general education; and the Women’s Studies FLC, which explores particular issues affecting women as students and teachers in the university.
Other activities have included workshops for faculty and staff in areas such as the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), Gender and Language, Sexual Harassment, and Diversity. Committees involved with faculty development have also brought experts to SSU to address training needs of faculty and staff. Carnegie scholar Craig Nelson lectured and conducted two intensive workshops about what teachers can do to help their students succeed. Organization guru Meggin McIntosh equipped faculty, staff, and administrators with the skills needed to “Keep Chaos at Bay” in our workspaces. Milt Cox (the “father” of the faculty learning community movement) came from Miami University to train faculty in developing a course mini-portfolio.
The plan for the Shawnee State University Teaching and Learning Center has been developed through consultation with the following groups and individuals: the Provost; an ad hoc committee of faculty and staff active in faculty development assigned by the University Faculty Senate to develop a proposal; members of faculty learning communities; the Associate Provost; members of the Strategic Planning Committee; AQIP Action Team #4. An important additional resource is a volume published by the POD Network (Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education): A Guide to Faculty Development: Practical Advice, Examples, and Resources (2002), Ed. Kay Herr Gillespie.
1. The Center will enable faculty and staff to better address our mission to promote excellence in teaching and learning on our campus.
2. An established structure allowing carefully targeted planning is consistent with the continuous improvement model embraced by AQIP, and will yield greater consistency and better focus on institutional goals.
3. Shawnee is the only regional state university in Ohio currently without a faculty development center and a focused program of continuous training and development.
4. There is widespread agreement among faculty and staff that a center is now needed as evidenced by support for the idea within the current AQIP process and by the recommendations of several ad hoc committees.
5. Unlike K-12 educators, few higher education faculty members ever receive training in how to teach. Faculty members are experts in a discipline, but may or may not be expert at reaching today’s undergraduate students in ways that will help them reach their potential.
6. The rapidly expanding scholarship of teaching and learning is providing new knowledge about the different ways students learn, including at-risk students, and first-generation college students. A faculty development center will bring insights about improved methods of teaching drawn from this new research to our faculty.
7. Research indicates that sustained development activities such as faculty learning communities produce a positive correlation to such factors as retention of new faculty, increased collegiality and esprit de corps, and reduction in feelings of isolation among participants.
8. Sustained development activities such as faculty learning communities are cost-effective tools for broadening the teaching skills of faculty and keeping them abreast of new developments in higher education. Research documents positive impacts on student learning and retention when faculty members engage in sustained development activities such as those provided by faculty learning communities.
9. Over time, the Teaching and Learning Center would be an investment not only in fulfilling Shawnee’s mission, but in terms of the bottom line as new-faculty and student retention rates improve.
10. Finally, studies reported by the POD Network (Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education) link improved student learning to the presence of an active center for teaching and learning.