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Archive for February, 2016

Why is it acceptable that most faculty come to college-level teaching without any formal preparation for teaching?

Dr. L. Dee Fink was invited to be as a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator at the University of Denver’s Teaching & Learning Week last week. Dee is an author a nationally and internationally-recognized consultant on college teaching and faculty development.

Kathy and Dee Fink

Kathy Keairns w Dee Fink

As a long-time member of our Office of Teaching & Learning (OTL), I was familiar with Dee’s work and taxonomy of significant learning so I was very excited to meet him. However, I have to admit I was skeptical that we could find 30 faculty members willing to give up 3.5 hours to attend his workshop entitled, “Designing your Courses for Significant Learning.” I was pleasantly surprised that I was wrong because the demand was so high for his workshop that we increased the capacity to 50 due to a growing wait list. His lunch keynote was capped at 110 and we were overcapacity for that too!

Although I did not attend his workshop, all of the feedback from faculty I spoke with was very complimentary and definitely worth the time. Fortunately, I did have the opportunity to attend Dee’s keynote, a special workshop he held for the administration, and small meetings with members of the OTL. Many of his ideas really resonated with me and shared my belief about the importance of providing faculty members with the professional development they need to be GREAT teachers.

Two questions we should ask all college faculty members as part of the evaluation process:

  1. What did I do this year to LEARN new ideas about teaching?
  2. What did I CHANGE this year to improve my teaching?

Most faulty come to college-level teaching without any formal preparation for teaching. Why is it NOT acceptable to require faculty to know about proven teaching strategies before they become college level teachers?

All universities should Identify Campus-Wide Learning Outcomes

All universities and faculty need to:

  • Be Learner-Centered
  • Work on Continuous Improvement

5 High Impact Teaching Practices

  • Changing Students’ View of Learning
  • Learning Center Course Design
  • Team-Based Learning
  • Engage Students in Service – With Reflection
  • Be a Leader with your Students

Professional Development should be the 4th obligation of faculty members in addition to research, teaching, and service.

I barely touched the surface here of what I learned from Dee’s visit and I’ll be mulling it over a lot of over the next few months. Check out his latest book, Creating Significant Learning Experiences, An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. And if you are looking to bring in a speaker to your campus, I highly recommend Dr. L. Dee Fink!