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Student and Professor Talking

New Teaching Resources website provides strategies and tools for teaching faculty

January 24, 2017 — 

If “knowledge is constructed because of the learner’s activity,” as educational psychologist and professor John Biggs holds, how do teachers teach to help students learn? The Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (the Centre) has developed a new website of teaching resources to assist faculty and instructors in enriching their teaching practice and improving student learning.

The Teaching Resources site, which will continue to accumulate material, offers resources for preparing to teach, innovative teaching strategies, tips for assessment and evaluation, and documenting teaching. The resource supports the mandate of the Centre to partner with teaching faculty on their teaching journey by providing “teaching and learning strategies that encourage students to actively engage in their learning and grounded in evidence-based best practices,” says Colleen Webb, an educational developer at the Centre who is co-creator of the site.

It’s another avenue for faculty to access teaching support, says Michael Link, an educational developer with the Centre who is the other co-creator. “We have our workshops that are open to faculty and instructors, but we thought it would be convenient to have resources online that allow users to access some additional teaching resources in one place.”

The resource was developed in response to needs expressed by faculty who attended workshops at the Centre and asked for additional support, information and teaching resources, adds Webb.

The site also supplements resources provided in the Teaching and Learning Certificate for new faculty, a two-year program that graduated its first cohort in 2016.

 

(Rescuing) that sinking feeling

The strategies and tools on the site prompt faculty to become more reflective and strategic in their teaching and planning.

“When we talk about reflective practice in teaching,” explains Link, “we are just giving a more formalized structure to the kind of reflecting on our teaching that most of us do naturally so that we can go a little bit deeper and be a little more systematic, much like a researcher, in the evaluation of our teaching..”

For example, you might walk out of a lecture hall thinking to yourself ‘That went well’ — or maybe you just walk out with a sinking feeling.

“Or maybe you don’t really think about it too much, but you know that something has to change.”

Link notes that reflective practice is really like conducting research: You start with a problem, something that you want to focus on, and then gather evidence — he suggests simple ways to do so such as keeping a journal, asking a trusted colleague to provide feedback, seeking informal feedback from students, or even recording oneself with an audio or video recorder.

“That gives you a lot of rich information…. There’s all kinds of ways you can gather data. So there’s that data-gathering phase, and then you begin to analyze your data, you look for themes, and find a focus and through the help of colleagues, or people like me or other resources at the Centre, we find strategies to deal with this issue that’s been identified. You come up with an action plan, [and if] it doesn’t work … we go through the cycle again.”

Another focus of the site is Curriculum Alignment, which Links says is crucial to the development of a course.

He says that Curriculum Alignment is “making sure that what you are teaching and what you are assessing is connected to the goals of the course.” In other words, designing your course—its activities, its means of assessment—in alignment with the course purpose.

All of the strategies, principles and theories the Centre provides, including those on the Teaching Resource Website, are based on solid research and literature, Link adds.

“We spend a great deal of time researching and collaborating on each of these topics. Not only [are] they are firmly grounded in research but we also want to present the findings in a way that they are clear for time-starved faculty.”

 

See the Teaching Resources Website here. Additional helpful teaching tips, including faculty interviews, will be available over the coming months.

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