The 2017-2018 academic year has arrived, and we are off and running at the Assumption College D’Amour Center for Teaching Excellence. We want to remind you about some of the core resources and programming of the Center, but first we are especially pleased to announce the new places, people, and initiatives associated with the Center for the 2017-2018 academic year.
First and most importantly, we have arrived in our new home in the Tsotsis Family Academic Center. You can find Sarah and Jim on the second floor, in the wing which also contains the Honors, Core Texts, and SOPHIA programs. You will find our always-growing library of books on teaching and learning in higher education in the alcove outside of our offices (TFAC 230 and 231), and we will be hosting our smaller events in the adjacent (and sparkling new) conference rooms (TFAC 227 and 237). Visitors to our new spaces always warmly welcomed.
We are pleased to announce that Mark Lonergan has joined the Center for Teaching Excellence as our Instructional Designer. For the past year Mark has been working at Assumption to help provide ideas, support, and resources to faculty who are teaching online courses. He will continue working in that capacity, as well as contributing more generally to the work of the Center, and helping us all consider ways in which emerging technologies can support the work of teaching and learning on campus.
We are extraordinarily pleased to announce the creation of our Student Fellows Program, and present to you the four student members of our team. The Student Fellows will be working with us throughout the year on a number of initiatives, including assistance with our Davis grant, meeting and discussing the student experience with faculty in our New Faculty Orientations and Course Innovation Academy, planning one of our spring Food for Thought events, and writing a blog post for this web site. Look for those posts throughout the year under the heading of “Student Perspectives on Learning at Assumption.” And please congratulate these students if you know them or see them around campus!
Tamra comes to Assumption from Quincy, MA, and is a senior biology major with a minor in psychology and a concentration in neuroscience. She serves as president of the senior class, head tutor in the Academic Support Center, and co-founder and vice-president of the Student Philanthropy Club. After graduation, Tamra plans to attend graduate school to become a physician’s assistant.
Hailing from Walpole, Massachusetts, Kurt has double majors in history/secondary education with a minor in political science. He loves American history and politics in particular and hopes to teach both subjects at either the high school level or higher ed. This past summer he held an internship at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston, where he was able to teach school and tour groups about the importance of our government and civic engagement. When he’s not obsessing over history, he likes to play violin, read Stephen King, and fulfill his New England duty to drink Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee everyday.
Jess Ferronetti is a senior from Andover, MA, double majoring in Spanish and secondary education with a minor in psychology. On campus, she works at the Academic Support Center and the Assumption College Bookstore. She is currently working on her Honors Thesis and is a member of the Spanish National Honor Society and Habitat for Humanity. When she’s not working on campus, she enjoys sitting out in the sun and reading. After graduating, she hopes to get a teaching position at a high school and obtain her masters degree in Spanish.
Carly Wheaton comes to Assumption from the town of Marshfield, Massachusetts. She is a senior majoring in elementary education and mathematics. Upon graduation, she will be licensed to teach grades 1-6 at the elementary level, as well as math in grades 6-8. On campus, she serves as head tutor at the Academic Support Center, with her instructional focus being mathematics. With teaching as her true passion, she looks forward to impacting the education of the future students at Assumption by fully investing herself in the opportunities that this fellowship will offer.
The regular work of the Center continues, and so we finish this welcome post with some reminders about that work. Remember that you can always find an updated list of upcoming and recent CTE programming at our Events page. Please check back frequently for new additions.
Food for Thought Conversations. These informal events are held twice per semester, and provide an opportunity for faculty members to learn about and discuss common challenges in higher education pedagogy, as well as new or innovative teaching approaches. Suggestions for topics for the lunches come from the faculty at large or from the Center for Teaching Excellence Advisory Council.
Faculty Learning Communities. Each semester the CTE selects a book or collection of readings related to teaching and learning in higher education. The Center purchases and distributes copies of the common reading to all interested faculty, and schedules a dinner discussion early in the semester. Suggestions for books for future Faculty Learning Communities are warmly welcomed.
Innovations in Higher Education Lecture. Each spring the Center invites a nationally recognized scholar or practitioner of higher education pedagogy to deliver a lecture on campus about the current state and future of higher education. Depending upon the discipline and scheduling of the scholar, other events may be organized around this lecture, including smaller faculty workshops, visits to classes, or meetings with relevant committees or individuals. These lectures are free and open to the public.
Course Innovation Academy. Each year the Center guides a small group of faculty through a course renovation process that draws upon the scholarship of teaching and learning to help them create dynamic new courses for their students. The Academy’s work commences at a half-day meeting in August, and then continues with readings and monthly dinner meetings throughout the year. The group reads about and discusses new research from the learning sciences, innovations in college teaching, advances in educational technologies, and alternative course design and assessment models. This year’s Academy participants are:
Laura Blake, Business Studies
Bryan Coleman, Business Studies
Lisa D’Souza, Education
Karolina Fucikova, Natural Sciences
Jeremy Geddert, Political Science
Leamarie Gordon, Psychology
Nalin Ranasinghe, Philosophy
Allison Stoner, Psychology
Individual faculty members, both full- and part-time, can request consultations with the Director, Associate Director, or Instructional Designer at any time throughout the year. The consultation process may include everything from informally discussing course ideas and teaching strategies to a full review of course materials and pedagogical practices. The CTE can also provide feedback to faculty members through classroom observations. All consultations and observations are entirely confidential, and do not play any role in the evaluation of faculty members for tenure or promotion. The Center can also provide consultation to committees, departments, or programs who are doing work related to teaching and learning on campus, including members of the staff and administration.
NEW FACULTY ORIENTATIONS
The Center provides new faculty at the College with a series of orientation sessions designed to help them successfully launch their careers at Assumption College. The new faculty orientations begin with two half-day sessions in late August, and continue with four meetings throughout the year devoted to a variety of topics relevant for new faculty. Each session gives the new faculty the opportunity to share their experiences and learn more about a specific topic, to build community with one another, and to meet senior faculty who help contribute to the conversation.
The Center has an Advisory Council which consists of four Provost appointees and four members elected through the Faculty Senate. All appointees serve two-year terms. The Advisory Council meets once or twice per semester to review the work of the Center, to offer feedback and suggestions for future programming and initiatives, and to approve travel and other funding requests.
Professional Development. Faculty can apply to the Center for funding to attend conferences or workshops on teaching and learning in their disciplines or within higher education more generally. The Director has a list of suggested conferences, but faculty can make requests for conferences they have identified on their own. The Center also provides funding for faculty who wish to enroll in courses in the Certificate in College Teaching Program through the Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts. Information about the program and course listings can be found at http://www.heccma.org/cct/. Funding for Center-sponsored conference travel or professional development does not count as part of the normal faculty travel allowance. Awards for conference travel are made on a rolling basis throughout the year; funds are very limited.
Research Funding. The Center has a small budget to offset research-associated costs for faculty members who are pursuing projects related to the scholarship of teaching and learning. This funding cannot be used for faculty stipends. Interested faculty should contact the Associate Director for more information.
The Center for Teaching Excellence houses a small library of books on teaching and learning in higher education on the second floor of the Tsotsis Family Academic Building. These books are available for faculty to borrow and return at any time. We are also happy to purchase and loan out books that faculty identify as relevant to their teaching work. The CTE’s library contains multiple copies of several highly recommended resources: Ken Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do; Susan Ambrose et al’s How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching; Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, by Roediger, McDaniel, and Brown; and Christopher Emdin’s For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood . . . And the Rest of Y’All Too. Although very different in style and scope, each of these books provides a solid foundation for understanding what we know about how students learn and how our course design and classroom practice can benefit from that research.
Faculty can also stay current with the work of the Center by following us on Twitter at @AssumptionCTE.
SCHOLARSHIP OF TEACHING AND LEARNING
One of the Center’s long-term goals is to promote Assumption College as an institution which produces significant scholarship on teaching and learning in higher education. If you have an interest in experimenting with new teaching techniques and strategies, and would be willing to formally study their effectiveness and present your findings at conferences or in published form, the Center wants to help. We can assist you in finding grant money, in designing and conducting experiments on teaching and learning in your classes, in identifying suitable outlets for presentation and publication, and in connecting you to others who share your interests. Contact the Director or Associate Director at any time if you would like to discuss how you could contribute to the fast-growing field of the scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education.