Welcome to the New Year

The new academic year has arrived, and your friendly Assumption College Center for Teaching Excellence looks forward to working with our faculty throughout the year to support the learning of our students both on campus and in our online courses.  We are continuing our most popular programs this year, such as our Food for Thoughts and Faculty Learning Communities, and have kicked off the second year of our (renamed) Course Innovation Academy, with a class of nine faculty members from six different disciplines.  We are excited to track the progress of participants in last year’s academy, and seeing how their courses unfold throughout this academic year.

We will welcome two special guests to our programming this year.  Robin Morgan, the Director of the Faculty Academy on Excellence in Teaching for the Indiana University system, will join the Course Innovation Academy for a special session in October, presenting an overview of alternative models for higher education course design.  In the spring we will be featuring Jay Howard’s book Discussion in the College Classroom in our Spring Faculty Learning Community, and then welcoming him to campus for our annual Innovations in Higher Education Lecture.  Jay will also join the Course Innovation Academy for dinner and discussion before his lecture.

As the Center for Teaching Excellence continues to grow and evolve, we will put increasing emphasis on working with our faculty to produce new work in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL) in higher education.  (You can visit our newly created SOTL page for a quick look at what our faculty have accomplished already.)  Sarah Cavanagh, Associate Professor of Psychology, newly appointed Associate Director for Grants and Research in the Center for Teaching Excellence, and author of the outstanding new book The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion, will be available to help faculty who wish to pursue new research in measuring the effectiveness of their teaching or the learning of their students, and both Sarah and Jim are always available to discuss ideas, provide feedback on projects and plans, and read drafts of new work in this area.

Of course we remain available for consultations with individuals, departments, programs, and committees on teaching and learning at Assumption.  We can observe classes and provide feedback, discuss challenges you might be facing with your teaching, or meet with departments and committees to help provide resources and perspectives from the research on teaching and learning in higher education.  E-mail Jim or Sarah at any time with such requests.

It’s worth noting here again, as we do in all of our communications, that we welcome all Assumption faculty–full-time, part-time, adjunct, graduate and continuing education–to our events and resources.  If you teach at Assumption, we are happy to support and promote your work.  So many conversations between faculty in higher education require us to butt heads with one another or fight over resources.  The Center for Teaching Excellence provides space and time for us to come together with one another in a collegial environment and help each other support our most essential mission: educating our students.  Join us for an event this year and you will find a supportive community ready to listen, learn, share, and help.

Finally, we are especially excited at the prospect of moving into our new home in the fall of 2017. We’ll be in the new academic building under construction right now, with offices for Sarah and Jim and access to lounge space and conference rooms.  The new space will enable us to launch some exciting new initiatives for the 2017-2018 academic year: stay tuned!

Have a great semester.

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