The Center supports and enhances the teaching and learning environment at Assumption College.
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 Center, in consultation with the Advisory Council, selects a book or collection of readings related to teaching and learning in higher education. In the fall the Center sends out an announcement about the book and an invitation to faculty to join that year’s Faculty Learning Community. The Center purchases and distributes copies of the common reading to all interested faculty, and schedules a dinner discussion in the second week of the spring 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. The 2017-2018 lecture will feature Anne Ellen Geller, Professor and Director of Writing Across the Curriculum at St. John’s University and co-author of The Meaningful Writing Project. The lecture will be held on Tuesday, February 13th at 11:30 am.
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. The Academy concludes in April with a public presentation of the courses that the faculty plans for their newly revised courses will be presented to the campus and local community. Academy participants receive a stipend for their work throughout the year. If you would have an interest in participating in the Academy in a future year, e-mail the director for inclusion on a list of possible future members.
INDIVIDUAL CONSULTATIONS AND OBSERVATIONS
Individual faculty members, both full- and part-time, can request consultations with the Director or Associate Director 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. We 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 monthly meetings 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. Provost appointees typically include at least one member of the non-tenure track faculty in order to ensure a voice at the Center for our contingent and adjunct faculty. 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.
The first floor of the D’Alzon Library on the Assumption campus contains shelving dedicated to the print resources of the Center. In addition to books on a variety of subjects related to teaching and learning in higher education, the shelves contain 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 Effective College Teaching; and Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, by Roediger, McDaniel, and Brown. 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.
SCHOLARSHIP OF TEACHING AND LEARNING
One of the Center’s long-term goals is to promote Assumption College as an institution which produces cutting-edge 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 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. For inspiration and ideas, view the growing bibliography of teaching and learning scholarship produced by Assumption faculty.