Minnesota State University is a comprehensive regional university with approximately 15,000 students with more than 1,500 faculty and staff, include more than 700 teaching faculty. When we started our faculty development program (2002), our faculty association pressured the administration to provide some help for faculty on teaching, since that was a major emphasis at our institution and few faculty had any training for teaching.
The program director heard about a similar certificate program at West Point and especially liked the idea of putting faculty members into groups, based on their availability during the week.
Initially, there was not strong financial support for this particular program by the administration (although there was later), and some colleagues predicted there would be little participation since “faculty don’t really care about improving their teaching.” That prediction turned out to be quite wrong.
Description of the Program
Participants in the program have to
complete several activities.
- Attend at least 7 of 8 seminars on the fundamentals of college teaching. These are 1.5 hours long and are focused on the following topics:
- Active Learning
- Classroom Assessment Techniques
- Course Design
- Teaching with Technology
- Developing and Using Rubrics
- Diversity in the Classroom
- Critical Thinking and General Education
- Capstone Project Presentations
- Schedule a Classroom Observation.
These are arranged through CETL and
conducted by a faculty member trained by CETL.
The 30+ who currently do the observing are all
graduates of CETL.
- Do a Capstone Project. Participants have to change something in one of their courses by applying one or more ideas they learned about in the seminars. They write a report of the change and its impact. The report is shared with other participants at the final sessions and with the dean of their college.
Registrants are assigned to a group of 6 to 10 faculty members each, based on the time slots when they are available to attend multiple offerings of each seminar. This assures groupings that include faculty from many different disciplines.
At the end of the year, University leadership will present the Certificates to the participants in an spring awards banquet. Faculty then present the certificate and their capstone project to their deans as evidence of continuing preparation and study which is a part of tenure and promotion process at Minnesota State Mankato.
The first year we offered this program (2002), there were 64 participants. The following year (2008-09) there were 47. By the end of the 5th year of the program, overall 50% of all full-time faculty (N=270) will have completed the program.
Impact of the Program
This program has had a major positive impact on faculty attitudes toward learning about teaching.
- Nearly half of all faculty (N=220) are participating in or leading one of the activities sponsored by the Center.
- Each year the number of faculty participating in one of our faculty learning communities (FLCs) increases.
- This year there will be about 150 participants in one of 12 different FLCs.
- Faculty develop friendships in these FLCs and their relationships often reduce the stereotypes they have of other disciplines and the people in them.
- Graduates of the TCP are telling their beginning colleagues to contact The Center as soon as they arrive, to find out about the TCP.
Impact on the Practice of Teaching:
Active learning is now typical across the campus with lecture being used selectively and in an intentional way. A few faculty members have moved to Team Teaching (Chemistry).
Impact on Students:
Impact on Students: Student report they love the IF-AT quizzes1 being used by many faculty. Some faculty members have report that grades are improving on tests and other measures of achievement.
1The Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique (IF-AT) form is a copyrighted instrument that gives students, or more often small groups, immediate feedback-question by question-on how well they are answering questions on a quiz. For more information: www.epsteineducation.com